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Engineer becomes millionaire, but gives it all back

A Devon worker has repaid £2m mistakenly paid to him by his employer, reports the BBC.

The engineer, who makes turbine blades at Alcoa Howmet in Exeter, normally earns £2,000 and was stunned at the massive windfall in his monthly salary.

But before the company even noticed the money was missing, the employee contacted his manager.

An Alcoa spokesman said: “It is a good example of the quality of people we have at our company. The sum of money involved was a significant amount.” They clearly recruit engineers of good character.

The company said the matter was being taken seriously and the employee’s honest and prompt action would be recognised.

Read the full article.

Supply teachers costs tallied

Secondary schools in England spent £293m on supply teachers last year – the equivalent of nearly £100,000 per school, the Taxpayers’ Alliance says. This report from the BBC.

The campaign group found schools in deprived areas – where more than 30% of pupils were eligible for free school meals – spent more than £140,000 each.

It said those children most in need of stable teaching were the most likely to be taught by a range of teachers.

The government said the cost was just a fraction of the £30.4bn schools budget.

The findings, from the group which campaigns for lower taxes, are based on analysis of government spending data for 2009/10.

The alliance’s report said: “It is clear that although spending on both types of teachers (regular and supply) increases with deprivation, the increase is far greater with respect to supply teachers.

“There may be any number of reasons for this, for example schools in deprived areas find it harder to fill full-time positions and there is increased time off for sickness.

“But the simple conclusion is that the children who need good, stable teaching most, are the most likely to have instability in their teachers.”

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Top UK employers

What attracts people to work for a particular employer can vary hugely depending on what else is going on in their lives, according to The CRF Institute, the organisation behind Britain’s Top Employers. This story from the Telegraph.

Career stability, or the chance to balance work with family life, can be just as important to some as material benefits like pay or bonuses. For others, the ability to travel abroad or complete professional training can be the number one attraction.

The challenge for employers, CRF says, is to make sure they attract the right people into the right jobs. Employers who have a strong “employer brand” – a good workplace reputation – will generally do better at hiring and keeping hold of the most suitable, as well as the best, candidates.

Now in its 11th year, Britain’s Top Employers, run by The CRF Institute in conjunction with The Daily Telegraph, seeks to establish the best employers in the UK, those that can demonstrate they have put the welfare of employees at the top of their to-do list.

At an awards ceremony in central London next month, CRF will name nearly 60 organisations that have achieved the esteemed accolade of Britain’s Top Employer. A further 10 prizes are up for grabs for employers in a range of categories, from the best large employer to number one IT employer 2011.

Read the full story.

Bring broadband up to speed in South Oxfordshire

A campaign has been launched by residents in South Oxfordshire to secure faster broadband speeds so they can have easier access to the internet, reports the BBC.

Villagers in Ewelme claim local businesses and students have been affected by slow connections.

BT said an upgrade was due by 2015 but villagers want it to happen earlier.

Neil Blake, campaigner, said: “If you haven’t got broadband of a reasonable capacity you can’t run a business here.”

See the original article.

Jobs in the e-commerce sector certainly rely on good internet connectivity.

IT merge for police

IT staff at Hampshire Constabulary have a new employer after the force merged resources with Thames Valley Police, reports the BBC.

The two forces have created a single information, communication and technology department, which will be managed by Thames Valley Police.

Staff will remain working at the same location, although their employer will be the Thames Valley force.

The deal, agreed in January, aims to “realise cost reductions that would not be achievable individually”.

Thames Valley Police covers Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, while Hampshire Constabulary covers both Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Hampshire Constabulary is to cut 160 jobs over the next year as it aims to save £20m.

Thames Valley Police will axe 270 jobs this financial year after the force’s budget was slashed by £12m.

See the original article.

Recruiting illegal workers leads to fines

Two illegal workers have been arrested following a UK Border Agency raid on a restaurant in Nottingham, reports the BBC.

The officers went to Bombay Nights restaurant, in Aspley Lane, on Monday to question staff about their right to work in the UK.

They arrested two Pakistani men, aged 35 and 54, who they said had overstayed their visas.

The agency said action was being taken to deport the two men from the UK as soon as possible.

The business was issued with an on-the-spot penalty notice for employing illegal workers and could be fined up to £20,000 for employing the men, unless it can prove that they carried out the correct right-to-work checks on their employees.

See the original article.

Hard times for requesting a raise

Workers are in no position to demand higher wages if today’s unemployment figures are anything to go by, reports the Telegraph.

True, workers have been hit by the double whammy of falling wages amid rising inflation. But it appears, given the fragile state of the labour market, anyone who is in work is simply lucky to have a job.

It’s a simple case of supply and demand. The number of people out of work has surged by 44,000 in the three months to December, to reach 2.49m. Youth unemployment has hit a new record high, and the number of people working part-time because they could not find full-time work has surged yet again.

The more people there are searching and competing for jobs, the less bargaining power workers have to demand they deserve a pay increase.

Total pay rose by just 1.1pc in December year-on-year, while it was up 1.8pc in the three months to December – a five-month low.

The main test is yet to come, however, as economists have pointed out, because many of the pay negotiations for this year are still to happen.

Read the full story.

Immigration cap relaxed for high earners

Non-European Union workers earning more than £150,000 a year are to be excluded from the government’s immigration cap, reports the BBC.

Scientists will also be given “a significant advantage” in coming to the UK as firms attempt to fill jobs where there are staff shortages.

Immigration minister Damian Green said the UK had to “attract the brightest and the best” to promote recovery.

Intra-company trasfers have already been exempted from the cap after pressure from business.

The government has said it wants to cut the overall non-EU immigration limit from about 200,000 to “tens of thousands” by 2015.

This will be split into monthly allocations with a total of 4,200 available for the first month in April, with 1,500 each month after that – a total of 20,700.

See the full story.

Apple trying to solve under-age labour in factories

Apple, the technology giant, has admitted that child labour is a growing problem at the factories which manufacture its computers, iPods and mobile phones, reports the Telegraph.

Apple said that 91 children under the age of 16 were discovered to be working last year in ten Chinese factories owned by its suppliers.

By comparison, in 2009, Apple said eleven underage workers had been discovered.

“In recent years, Chinese factories have increasingly turned to labour agencies and vocational schools to meet their workforce demands,” said Apple’s report.

“We learned that some of these recruitment sources may provide false IDs that misrepresent young people’s ages, posing challenges for factory management,” it added.

In response, Apple said it had “intensified” its search for workers under 16, the minimum legal working age in China. In one factory it had found 42 children working on the production line and has now terminated its contract. Apple said it decided that the management “had chosen to overlook the issue and was not committed to addressing the problem.”

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Google says Liverpool is UK’s most romantic city

The people of Liverpool are Britain’s most romantic, an analysis of Google search data suggests. Londoners and Mancunians were below the UK average for searching online for terms such as “red roses”,” chocolates”, “romantic restaurants” or even “Valentine’s day card”. This report from the Telegraph.

People from Liverpool were nearly three times as likely to search for similar terms as Londoners, and people from Portsmouth were most likely to search for romantic dinner venues.

Google said that across the UK searches for cards and flowers rose almost 2000 per cent in the fortnight prior to Valentine’s Day, but that more than half of all shoppers only start looking on 10 February. Belated searches for “red roses” surged on Valentine’s Day itself.

Searches for Valentine’s-related keywords, such as “Valentine’s day card” and “romantic restaurants” are at their highest in Liverpool, followed by Cardiff, Nottingham and Brighton.

Google also said that a scan of the 5.2 million books it has digitised revealed that using “sweetie pie” as a term of endearment began to be popular in the Thirties. “Stud Muffin”, Google said, was not popular until the Eighties, according to its “Ngram” analysis tool.

See the full article.