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This week, finding a dynamic packaging system and working with the new age discrimination laws.
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There is a lot of talk at the moment about new sytems offering dynamic packaging facilities. Are there any off-the-shelf dynamic packaging solutions or do you have advice on what I should be looking for if I was looking to develop one for my agency?
Dynamic packaging is a catchphrase used to describe how travel companies can sell and “package” the different components of a holiday – usually the flights, accommodation and car-hire elements.There are several different options for an independent travel agency. Firstly, you could become the principal (ie organiser) of a package holiday whereby you contract directly with hotels, source the flights and sell these as packages to your customers. As the principle you are required by law to obtain an ATOL. There are some different dynamic packaging technology solutions for agents available from companies such as Comtec, Click with Technology and CSI Media.
However, if you don’t envisage jumping in at the deep end with large technology outlays, then it may be easier to plug into an existing dynamic packaging solution from the tour operators. The advantage is they are mostly off-the-shelf products that can quickly be incorporated into your existing website or sales system. Companies such as On Holiday Group’s Fresh Holidays, Thomas Cook’s Flexible Trips, Triton’s soon-to-be-released dynamic packaging solution and OTC from Lastminute.com. If you use one of these providers, you don’t need an ATOL because the tour operator is acting as the principal.
I am aware there is new anti-age discrimination legislation coming into force later int he year. What do I need to be doing now to prepare and what impact will it have on employing staff in the future?
This is a complex issue. Check out the ACAD website for information (acas.org.uk). From October 1 it will be unlawful for all workers, including self-employed, contract workers and part-time workers, to discriminate on the basis of age. The regulation covers people of all ages, both young and old. You have to check that any recruitment, promotion or redundancy policies or practices don’t discriminate. There will be a ‘default’ retirement age of 65, but employees will be entitled to request to stay on beyond that age, a request you would need to demonstrate you have carefully considered. Similarly it will be unlawful to have a lower age limit for recruitment, unless you can prove that it is necessary. You can expect greater attention to be paid to the rights of the part-time worker.
Things to remember are:
- Avoid specifying a minimum/maximum length of experience in your recruitment advertising as this discriminates certain age groups.
- Don’t ask for date of birth on your application forms; use skills/competence based forms.
- Train managers to avoid stereotypes, eg the assumption that younger workers don’t have skills or older workers are just coasting towards retirement. Make sure any training is open to all.
- Review your people policies – last in, first out or length of service to select employees for redundancy is likely to be discriminatory.
- Avoid those everyday sayings when conducting appraisals or writing up interview notes such as ‘shows remarkable maturity for their age’ or ‘does well despite their age.’