Friday, 6 May 2011

Newsletter Issue 200, May 2011



Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 200, May 2011
Hi guys,
Are you still paying for a landline? Or are you following the global trend to a mobile-only existence? Check out Landline vs Mobile below.
The 90 Day Trial Period was introduced in 2009. However, there are some hidden implications for employers. 
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Landline vs Mobile

In The Guardian on Wednesday 23 March 2011, Jess Cartner-Morley mused about the death of the telephone (read the article, Is this the death of the telephone?, online at http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/mar/23/death-of-the-telephone).
The article led off with "BT's plans to hike up charges for landline use, coupled with our modern reliance on mobiles, texting and email, could spell the death of the traditional phone call. And our lives will never be quite the same."
As Jess said in her article, for a century the no-dial-tone phone was a great horror film prop, a "symbol of isolation and doom foretold". Now she thinks that the death of the landline is close to happening. In America, a quarter of homes don't have a landline. 2007 research placed 15% of British homes as landline-less, but that figure is likely to have grown significantly in the intervening four years.
So why are our global citizens giving up their landlines?
For me in New Zealand it is because of the 'user-pays' cost of putting a landline on to our house ($10k), plus the fact that if we did put the phone on, we couldn't get broadband anyway as we are on old infrastructure and too far out from the exchange. So we went totally mobile with satellite broadband. I haven't sent a fax in five years or so, so there was no need for a phone line for that either.
For many in the US and UK, it is the cheap alternatives offered by the mobile market. In Vietnam there is no in-ground infrastructure for landlines, so it was cheaper for them to ditch it and go entirely mobile as a nation. I was told that you can get a monthly mobile plan in Vietnam for around $1 per month.
With a mobile you can email, txt, pxt or talk while you carry on your daily life, for a fraction of the cost of the landline. You are not anchored to the house. It costs less. No matter where you are, you have the same number. All your friends' numbers are in your phone. You can go overseas and take the same phone, and the same number, with you. The phones are lighter, more stylish, and you can screen your incoming calls for free.
Ah, now there's a good selling point. Call screening is very easy when you have a mobile with your numbers loaded. If an incoming call comes up with "Private Number", "Number withheld" or "Caller Unknown" you just don't answer.
Poor telemarketers. In New Zealand, where landline calls are free and mobile calls cost, you are unlikely to be telemarketed when you have only a mobile number. In the past eighteen months I have only had one telemarketer call my cellphone. The bliss of not having dinner time interrupted is fantastic.
Jess mentions another reason for the huge increase in mobile 'home-lines'; those in their twenties who have had mobiles "since their teens and for whom a landline makes no practical sense during the transient years before they settle down, the moment of opting into landline-owning may never come if it becomes an expensive extra". Jess also said that it was pretty much only her parents who called her on her landline these days.
Jess also felt that the cellphone, with it's handy mutable ring, was making us less transparent, and more selfish in being able to ignore others when they want to talk to us. She felt that the landline was once an "invisible [social and romance] knowledge map" of who was calling, how long conversations were, and of having to answer the phone when it sirened its call through the house.
I disagree. My mother has a great saying, which I apply equally to the landline and the cellphone, "the phone is my servant; I am not its". If I am busy, the phone - landline or cell - won't get answered. The phone, after all, is for my convenience, not for others'.
I also remember having to order a change of phone with Telecom three weeks before I moved, and still not having the phone connected for two weeks after the move took place. The telecoms fees I had to pay for my bare-faced gall in moving house were pretty staggering. I was also told that I couldn't take my old number with me, because I was now on a different exchange. All this was 'normal' and convenience didn't enter into it.
And that's the thing with mobile phones - they are intensely convenient. Remember dial-up internet? The mobile really came into its own then, when you could call someone AND be on the web at the same time. Mobiles go wherever you go; providing you have access to a powerpoint from time to time it will keep going; you have your address book and diary all in one place, and for some retailers you can have your loyalty card stored in it. You can know exactly where you are with GPS, check your emails, keep your e-ticket and have your talking book and your favourite music on it. There is talk of loading electronic credit cards on them.
Most people have a mobile and a landline. Couples have two mobiles and a landline. A family has 4 plus mobiles and a landline. And internet. And Sky. You can understand people questioning in tight economic times why they should pay for a landline as well. If your landline comes bundled with your internet, perhaps do as some of our friends are choosing to do; taking the 'naked broadband' option.
So to me the only difference it really makes to customers whether we use the underground cables or not is about paying for the cost of upkeep. Once we all shared a little cost over a great number of us. Shortly a few are going to share a great deal of cost, which will really toll the death-knell of the landline. Naked broadband won't be able to subsidise the cost either - so we will be satellite all the way.
Who knows what telecommunications will be capable of, once free of its earthbound shackles. One thing is that today it is more likely to be for customer convenience, not for that of telecoms companies.
 

90 Day Trial Periods

Recently I attended some very interesting training on the 90 day employee trial period, which had come into effect on 1 March 2009.
There was an Employment Court judgement earlier in 2011 about a case (Smith vs Stokes Valley Pharmacy (2009) Ltd) which was heard last year. The bald facts of the case are that Ms Smith had been an employee of Stokes Valley Pharmacy since 2007. The original owners sold the business, which was to be effective from 1 October 2009. The new owners made new employment offers to all staff.
Ms Smith was offered a new IEA on 29 September. She took the contract home and read it, and, aside from some other matters that she wanted to negotiate with the new owners about, was also worried about a 90 day trial period clause. Ms Smith did not sign the agreement, but took the contract and her concerns back to the new owners. Ms Smith and Stokes Valley Pharmacy (2009) Ltd had not reached agreement by the take-over date of 1 October, but the new owners asked Ms Smith to start work anyway.
On 2 October, after being told that the 90 day clause was 'standard in all their contracts' and that it wouldn't be a problem, the parties reached agreement and Ms Smith signed the contract.
On 8 December, Ms Smith was dismissed with few reasons given by the new owners. She challenged this through the Employment Court as unjustified dismissal.
Judge Colgan ruled that Ms Smith was unjustifiably disadvantaged, and was unjustifiably dismissed; and that Stokes Valley Pharmacy (2009) Ltd had breached the “good faith” provisions of the Employment Relations Act and the IEA. Additionally, Ms Smith would be able to sue Stokes Valley Pharmacy (2009) Ltd for breach of contract.
The result of this case is that to uphold a 90 day trial period there needs to be:
  1. A written employment agreement (there was)
  2. The EA as to be signed before employment commences (it wasn't)
  3. The employees attention must be drawn to the 90 day clause (no 'reasonable expectation')
  4. The 90 day offer should be clarified in an appointment letter (it wasn't)
  5. To avoid a PG for 'Unjustified disadvantage', the employer would be best to clarify acceptable behaviours and provide fair warnings (no 'reasonable expectation'). These do not need to be as extensive or formal as post-trial period, but documentary evidence would protect the employer.
Cautions for employees: if you start work before your written employment contract is signed, the 90 day period may not stand. Ask for a formal appointment letter. If your employer downplays the 90 day period as being 'standard' in your contract, the trial period may not stand. Your employer needs to give you reasonable expectation that your employment will cease if your work continues in the same vein. Ask for regular feedback, and keep diary or file notes of any performance conversations with the employer.
Cautions for employers: don't let any employee start work without having a written, signed IEA already in place, and an appointment letter detailing that the 90 day trial period will be in place, and what that means for the trial employee. Ensure your IEA has been carefully constructed to support the 90 day trial throughout (ie, that all your clauses include reference to the 90 day trial. Get expert employment contract advice with a reputable organisation such as EMA). Keep a diary or file note of any unacceptable behaviours and fair warnings, preferably signed & dated by both parties.


PowerPoint Superscript & Subscript

Did you know that you could create a non-standard superscript or subscript in PowerPoint?
While you can do a standard superscript and subscript to any text in a presentation, PowerPoint also allows you to set how much offset you want;
  1. Select the text you want to offset
  2. In 2003, click the Format menu | Font (in 2007+, click the Home tab and then click the small arrow in the bottom-right corner to launch the Font dialogue box).
  3. In the Font dialogue box, click the superscript or subscript box, then enter the number for your desired offset effect (the limits are 100 and -100, and the standard superscript is 30, subscript is -25).
  4. Click OK.

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms) for you:
  • IEA, Individual Employment Agreement. The written, formal, explicit, overt contractual & legal bond that binds the employer & the employee together for a defined period of service (fixed term contract) or open (full employment) length of service.
  • PG, Personal Grievance. Any grievance that an employee may have against their employer (or former employer) because of a claim (see Section 103 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 for claim details).

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Tips, Short+Hot Keys
In this newsletter, we are going to look at some popular hotkeys for Outlook:
  • "Go to Calendar view from any other view" - Ctrl & 2
  • "View specific number of days, beginning with the selected day, eg select April 14, key Alt & 4, Calendar shows April 14 - 17" - Alt & 1-9
  • "Go to a specific date via date selection dialog box (enter/choose date and click OK)" - Ctrl & G
  • "Show Week view" - Alt & - (hyphen)
  • "Show Month view" - Alt & = (equals).
And one for Outlook 2007+
  • "Create a new appointment in any Outlook view" - Ctrl, Shift & A

Hot Linx
There's a new report out saying that in-house promoted CEOs outperform those who have been hired in. Check out the AT Kearney report at http://www.atkearney.com/index.php/Publications/qhome-grownq-ceo.html
For expertise in employer's employment advice, advocacy, networking and training, check out the Employers & Manufacturer's Association at http://www.ema.co.nz/
Those of you who are looking for different Kiwi blogs could try learning a little more about Wellington at http://wellingtonista.com/ and http://www.karldufresne.blogspot.com/, and about Nelson at http://www.wildandsneaky.co.nz/.

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here

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