Package can be expensive

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GERMANY has a law which allows employers to impose shorter hours and reduced pay on their workers in times of economic hardship. And, it seems, Sheffield bosses want the same kind of law to be introduced here.

While such a piece of legislation could be argued as good of the national economy, allowing businesses to continue to operate during harsh financial times, progress on this should only be adopted under strict guidance.

The Kurzareit law only operates courtesy of generous government support to top up employees’ wages and, under the present economic climate, it is difficult to see how this would happen here. The change in hours is also dovetailed to match continuous training, an idea which is something of a stranger to the UK economy.

While giving bosses rights to cut hours is attractive to them, they need to remember that it’s only part of a much wider - and more expensive - package.

Happy message for Sheffield people

ON the face of it, Sheffield council has failed in its declared intention to force the hands of private owners to make them open the doors of unoccupied properties to families desperately in need of a roof over their heads.

However, we ought to read beyond the headline figures to reach a clearer picture of what is really happening.

The Government introduced new powers to allow local authorities to impress on private landlords the need to make use of every single home which stands idle in the country. For, difficult as it is to believe, there are thousands of homes standing empty while thousands are searching for a home.

Sheffield City Council pledged to use these powers to bring at least 30 homes back into use during the 2010/11 financial year. Even this modest target was missed - because the council needs to show that every success was as a direct result of their involvement.

This is almost impossible in many cases. But the fact remains that during this period, many more unoccupied homes came back into occupation. And, at the end of the day, that is the message the people of Sheffield are happy to hear.

Gem of a lesson

IN an age when businesses come and go in the twinkling of a fire sale, it is always worth sounding a fanfare when a long-established firm reaches a genuine milestone. And that is the case for Sheffield jeweller HL Brown who have notched up 150 years of trading in the city. This is a real achievement and one many firms may admire but few will achieve. But there’s no real secret to the company’s record: it’s built on great service to customers and maintaining that standard through the years. That’s a lesson others are well advised to learn.