November 15, 2017 / 12:19 AM / 5 days ago

Top UK companies need to be more open about staff - PLSA

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s top companies need to provide more information about their workforces, the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association said in a report, saying too few firms disclosed details such as a breakdown between full- and part-time workers.

City workers make their way home in the City of London, Britain October 18, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner

The annual reports of FTSE 100 companies studied by the PLSA and Lancaster University Management School showed “substantial variations in the quality of reporting and a lack of clarity”, despite most talking about the importance of their staff.

British pension schemes manage around 1.9 trillion pounds in assets - 57 percent of all institutional investment in the UK - and wanted to know how the companies they invest in performed, the PLSA said.

“A company’s workforce is a key part of its strategy and business model, but meaningful information about workers in annual reports is still too rare,” said Luke Hildyard, Policy Lead for Stewardship and Corporate Governance at the PLSA.

The report follows a major review of corporate governance reform by the government earlier in 2017, amid growing concerns about the way some companies were treating staff, including Sports Direct (SPD.L) and tech start-ups such as Uber.

“Given the public interest in issues like precarious working and economic productivity, and the government’s proposed corporate governance reforms giving workers and other stakeholders more say in reporting, our findings suggest an urgent need for better disclosure,” Hildyard said.

Among the findings in the report were that just 4 percent of companies provided a breakdown of their workforce by full-time and part-time workers; while 7 percent detailed their usage of agency workers.

Less than a fifth of companies provided information about staff turnover and only 15 percent provided details on the ethnic diversity of their workforce, the report said.

“As a long-term investor, it’s important that we get access to information about how companies are meeting future skills needs, ensuring good industrial relations and motivating their workers,” said Michael Marshall, Responsible Investment Officer from West Midlands Pension Fund.

Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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