Time in the Garden

My mind turns to Gardening Leave, not because I have any outstanding disputes with any of my ex-employers but because there seems to be a lack of clarity as to when and why one might use it if one was an employer.

If someone is on Gardening Leave they remain an employee and may not work for anyone else, although this also depends on the terms of the employment contract. In a world of zero hours contracts, this maybe a part of the law that will be re-examined.

For full time workers though, more and more companies are placing terms in their contracts that if one should, say, invent a new cheese in one’s back garden, then the company claims the exploitation rights. All inventions belong to your employer. It’s unclear if another month, or three months would make much difference though, but protecting the company’s intellectual property remains a motive for delaying people leaving as does getting them off site and off the IT systems.

Another key advantage is that the employee cannot work for a competitor, again, employers often via employment contracts try and restrain people’s ability to compete with them on quitting, but this is fraught with legal risk; keeping them on the books is legally much safer. Many sales staff may find themselves constrained in this way and the strengthened data protection laws will make it harder for them to take their address books with them.

A specific and unusual example of this is where staff of regulatory, political policy or law enforcement organisations leave their job to work for regulated entities. In fact, the public sector has constraints on this, but they have been weakened in time over the decades. The public sector employment contracts nearly all have clauses similar to private sector non-compete clauses but restraining public servants from working with organisations that they had regulatory or procurement relationships with. Despite this many lobbying organisations employ ex-politicians, civil servants and police. (In some ways, the movement in the other direction is more corrupt.)

The final example is where someone has financial or judicially regulated authority within the organisation. It’s usually inappropriate to leave such senior staff in place once they have resigned, and certainly of there are question marks on their remaining commitment. This of course is compounded where a compromise agreement has been signed to avoid the need to undertake disciplinary or redundancy processes. Management need to ensure that they are acting in the interests of the organisation’s stakeholders and protect themselves against a class action.

That’s where the Labour Party finds itself. A huge swath of its senior staff have put in their notice, they remain able to exercise their authority and for some reason are being permitted to work their notice, in some cases it would seem an extended notice.

It should be noted that for the ex-employee, if someone with a full time job, one or three months gardening leave can be a welcome gift. …

Abolish Performance Reviews

I recieved in my inbox an article on Adobe’s experience on abolishing their annual appraisal process. One reason was cost, they calculated it took the equivalent of 40 FTEs to run the process which illustrates the distraction of management time. The article quotes quality guru W. Edwards Deming who says,

It nourishes short-term performance, annihilates long-term planning, builds fear, demolishes teamwork, nourishes rivalry and politics.”

They replaced their previous stack ranking system with a more flexible and empowered system, divorcing formal performance from salary/bonus decisions.

It proved to be more popular with managers and staff, with one employee reporting

… that a feeling of relief has spread throughout the company because the old annual review system was “a soul-less and soul crushing exercise.”

One side effect was that involuntary terminations increased but voluntary terminations reduced, It ought to be a happier place to work. …

Sunset, finally?

Sunset, finally?

Simon Phipps comments on Oracle’s decision to close down the SPARC and Solaris business units. He  was close to the politics of Sun’s “Dash to Open” in the mid noughties. My feeling is that Sun had failed before Schwartz was appointed; there was no longer room for differentiated hardware company; Oracle’s failure to monetise the SPARC product line may have been caused by management hubris, but the long term economics  …

Tax Fairness

Tax Fairness

Over the weekend, John McDonnell promised that Income Tax would not rise for most of the country but that a higher rate would be levied on those earning more than £80,000. Tax reform can be pretty technical; and so one needs to look at one or two things without losing sight of the idea that the richer should pay their share. Each tax payer has a personal allowance of £11,500 i.e. the first £11,500 of earnings is not taxed; this is clawed back if one’s income is £100,00 or more by levying a 60% marginal rate on those earning between £100,000 and £121,200. There is probably enough room for a new additional rate between the 40% levied at £42,000 and 60% levied at £100,000 and £80,000 p.a. is a lot of money; only 3% of income earners get that much. It will remain necessary to increase the amount paid by those earning more than £145,000 and redress the regressive nature of National Insurance, which negates much of the 20% band, converting it into a 32% tax burden. Labour’s promise is also that there will be no increase in employee NICs nor in VAT, although again that’s not enough … VAT has to come down from 20%. …

Hacker’s Guide to Economics

Hacker’s Guide to Economics

I went over to Hackney to attend the People’s PPE. This, their second event was called the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to Economics and I originally produced a storify, which is now here which is a collection of tweets and other social media comments about the event. The rest of this blog is based on my notes and the thoughts it provoked, on debt, banking regulation and Islamic finance, a bit less about the class war.

Ann Pettifor, Director of PRIME, opened the session, stating that the problem was debt and the banks, which create debt.  …

Beyond People’s QE

Beyond People’s QE

A day or two ago, Alex Little, published a blog post called ‘Lessons for Corbyn in “Lerner’s Law”’. Lerner’s law suggests that using your opponents language limits your ability to make the argument. Little quotes Bill Mitchell, the inventor of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) as to how Labour’s leadership in articulating the Darling Plan and its successors talk about balancing the budget and fixing the deficit concede the argument to the Tories. Little’s article also points at Lerner’s economic theories, described as “functional finance” and points at the wikipedia article on it. He argues that by describing the proposed pump priming as PQE, and accepting that when growth takes off, the government may transition to bond financing, by even accepting that we need to live within our means, the theory and benefits from the a more overt radical financing will be lost. …

Banks Eh?

Banks Eh?

Have you got outraged over FATCA yet? Over the last quarter, I have received several pieces of correspondence from different banks asking me to certify that I have no income that the US Government might be interested in. It goes to show just how poor, the Banks’ whole person/customer knowledge is. …