The University of Sheffield
Management School

Management School News

Posts Tagged ‘Hastings’

Comment: Lionel’s messy tax affairs are part of a bigger problem in football. By Dr Thomas Hastings

Monday, July 11th, 2016

One thing’s for sure, it has not been a good summer for Lionel Messi. Following a fourth international cup final defeat, the diminutive Argentine announced his retirement from international football on June 26, aged just 29. The “Don’t go, Leo” campaigns had barely subsided before he and his father were handed a 21-month jail sentence for tax fraud.

They were found guilty of not declaring £3.5 million of earnings between 2007-2009, linked to the use of tax havens in Belize and Uruguay. Football lovers fearful of the loss of (arguably) the world’s greatest player should be comforted by the fact that sentences under two years can be served outside of prison in Spain.

Messi maintains his innocence and will appeal the decision. But this and the fact that he can keep playing does little to address the serious issue of how some footballers manage their finances – something many in the industry struggle with.


In the dock. EPA/Alberto Estevez/Pool

Messi’s case is not unique in Spain or (for that matter) Barcelona. Earlier this year, Messi’s Brazilian team-mate Neymar was also reprimanded and fined €45.9 million for failure to disclose earnings from a range of sources. Neymar also maintains his innocence and is making an appeal.

Money, money, money

From one perspective, Messi’s tax dealings should not come as much of a surprise. The use of tax havens is seemingly the done thing for the super-wealthy, the world over. But there are aspects of the beautiful game which may lend themselves more generally to the aggressive pursuit of even greater earnings.

The game’s global union FIFPro has long urged an abolition of transfer fees so pivotal to the concept of player “ownership”, as well as caps on agent earnings. Outside of player registrations, the concept of economic rights for players has also proliferated in recent years, adding exposure and marketing revenue to the game’s more famous stars, the clubs they play for and the brands/products they advertise.


Happier times. EPA/Alberto Estevez

Messi earns a purported £256,000 per week after tax – so why would any player risk biting the hand that feeds them? One partial explanation may lie in recent adjustments to the Spanish tax system. Previous low rates of tax, linked to a source of competitive advantage for the top flight of Spanish football, La Liga, have since been hiked. The Spanish tax rate for top earners more than doubled in 2012 to 54%.

Regulating a global game

More generally, the problems emerging from the Messi case reflect the fact that, while the globalisation of football in economic and cultural terms is near-complete, the legal rights, regulations and procedures surrounding the sale of players remain highly varied across the globe. Footballers are recruited across a global labour market, though key regions (notably South America) operate with very different norms and regulations regarding ownership rights and recruitment procedures.

Third party ownership, for example, has become commonplace in certain regions of the world. This is where a third party individual or company will give a player or club money in return for owning a percentage of a player’s future transfer fee or “economic rights”. In the UK, the process has become synonymous with Carlos Tevez who arrived at West Ham against the rules of English football, under the ownership of businessman Kia Joorabchian.


Three’s a crowd. Sean Dempsey / PA Archive

But in South America third party ownership is common. It is also accompanied by a spate of high profile scandals involving tactics whereby players are temporarily registered and sold via low-tax jurisdictions (such as Uruguay) as a means of avoiding tax on transfer fees.

The point here is not to conflate issues of third party ownership with Messi’s own crime of tax avoidance, but to put the crime in context. Football is a global industry which operates differently in different parts of the globe. Added to this, many footballers emerge from humble backgrounds and difficult circumstances: combinations of ignorance, greed and acting on bad advice are likely to emerge.

Individual Responsibility

This is not to say that footballers, like workers in any other profession, are free from responsibility when it comes to paying tax or meeting their legal obligations. A major problem is that many people who stand to profit (which may include friends and family members) have an interest in taking risks on the player’s behalf.

Did Messi even know his actions were illegal? Barely a year goes by in football where a legal controversy of one form or another does not emerge, be it more serious cases of fraud or tax avoidance (as with Messi), illegal payments relating to transfer fees (see manager Harry Redknapp’s infamous case in 2012) or unlawful player gambling (including in games they are involved in).

Like Messi, Redknapp pleaded ignorance as well as innocence when it came to charges over his own illegal payments. As well as “knowing nothing” Redknapp went a stage further by citing an inability to text, write or type as part of his defence. He was cleared of tax evasion charges.

If ignorance is no defence, then football as an industry must ensure its players are educated on the legal rights and wrongs associated with the profession. This is particularly important for those elites at the forefront of the game and its marketing, not least because literally billions of viewers (including young, impressionable and avid fans) consume the global game.

 

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

An insight into policy – a GLOSS delegation visits the ILO in Geneva

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

ILO2  ILO1

As part of the Senate Award winning GLOSS programme, Prof Jason Heyes and Dr Tom Hastings took a delegation of students to the 326th session of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Governing Body in Geneva, Switzerland.

This fully-funded trip was one of many offered by the programme, which you can read more about here.

Six undergraduates and postgraduates from across the Faculty of Social Sciences joined Jason and Tom on the visit, including Management School MSc student Monisha Khanna who said: “I remember reading an email from the office of the Associate Dean for Learning & Teaching that mentioned this opportunity. It looked really interesting, so I researched the different GLOSS programmes and the Geneva/ILO opportunity stood out for me.

“I am an MSc Occupational Psychology student and the focus of the ILO’s Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) programme mapped back to some of my areas of interest and study. The ILO’s 2016 World Employment and Social Outlook Report also really resonated with me, so I was curious to get first-hand experience about the inner workings of the Governing Body.”

Aware that her interests aligned with those discussed by the ILO, Monisha was successful in her application and left for Geneva with the team in March. She continued: “Being invited to observe the 326th session of the Governing Body was definitely one of the highlights of my Management School experience. The agenda items covered timely global issues such as promoting fair and effective migration policies. It was really interesting to see how the tripartite system of workers, employers and governments worked together in handling complaints and developing policy. We were also privileged to meet with a few ILO officials who were generous enough to give us a private talk about their work.

“Jason and Tom went out of their way to ensure we had a meaningful educational and cultural experience. With the notion of ‘change’ being a constant in the world of work, understanding how the ILO members promote social dialogue on a global scale, was a valuable experience. This is one of the many benefits of attending international meetings and conferences – immersing yourself into new experiences and then sharing what you learned in real time.”

Following the Governing Body meeting, Monisha wrote a briefing which discusses the notions of decent and safe work which tied in with the ILO’s annual World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 28 April. Click here to read it in full.

Leading innovators in learning and teaching awarded by Senate

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

For the fourth year running, the Management School has achieved success in the University’s prestigious Senate Awards.

Prof Paul Latreille, Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching at the Management School, scooped the prestigious Senate Award for Leadership in Learning and Teaching. On his win, he said: “I’m delighted with this acknowledgement from the University. We’ve worked hard to become leading innovators in learning and teaching and to deliver an outstanding student experience, and it hasn’t just been my efforts: without an exceptional team of supportive academic and professional services colleagues, this award wouldn’t have been possible. I’m proud of the entire School and this award is a further reflection of our collegiality and the great things we can achieve together.”

Andrea Ward, University Teacher and Postgraduate Director for Teaching Quality and Enhancement, has been awarded the Early Career Senate Award. She was praised for being a dedicated, inspirational teacher and mentor who makes the most of available technology, saying: “My teaching approach is facilitative encouraging participation and to provoke thinking to enable them to reach their potential by helping them create the ability and skill to decipher real world situations. It’s an honour to have this acknowledged by the University.”

The final award, for Collaborative Activities, was a group presentation to the Global Leadership Initiative Team (GLOSS), including Management School academic staff Prof Jason Heyes and Dr Thomas Hastings. For the past two years Jason and Tom have arranged for groups of Sheffield students to attend meetings of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation, a specialist agency of the United Nations. Thanks to Jason and Tom’s efforts, the students have spent a week in Geneva meeting ILO officials and learning about the realities of international policy making. Their commitment to securing valuable international opportunities for students in the social sciences has made a significant difference to student experience across the Faculty.

Dean of the Management School, Prof David Oglethorpe, reflected on the announcement: “I couldn’t be prouder of our achievements in learning and teaching and some of these have been recognised formally by the University again this year with four Management School staff achieving Senate awards. This is the fourth year running that the Management School has members of staff receiving these awards – a true reflection of our commitment to ensuring excellent, innovative teaching provision for students.”

Click here to read more about the Senate Awards and winners across the university.

Encouraging innovation: SUMS team aim to improve labour conditions worldwide

Monday, March 14th, 2016

SA1 SA2 SA3

Members of the WOERRC research centre, Prof Jason Heyes and Dr Thomas Hastings, recently took their expertise in employment rights to Durban in South Africa.

The duo trained members of the South African Department of Labour’s Inspection and Enforcement Services unit, using their newly developed toolkit – designed for the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The training, a pilot to check the quality of the toolkit, sought to educate labour inspectors further on issues relating to informal employment in South Africa and the potential risks for workers. Labour inspectors are responsible for inspecting workplaces, investigating bad practice and taking action where employers are failing to comply with the requirements of labour legislation. However, labour inspection in the informal economy, where employers might be hard to identify, is fraught with difficulties. Jason and Tom’s aim was to enhance the effectiveness of labour inspection in the informal economy by raising awareness, encouraging innovation and helping inspectors to identify obstacles and ways of getting around them.

South Africa was appropriate for a pilot training session as it has a large informal economy, which includes formal enterprises and formal sector businesses employing people on an informal basis. Jason and Tom created a dialogue with the inspectors through the session, and gathered feedback on its success. The course evaluation was extremely positive and the inspectors mentioned a variety of lessons and new ideas which they intended to implement in their work.

The training toolkit translates academic research into practical application and is designed to be universal – one section can be tailored to the country it is being used in. Jason said: “This is a toolkit designed for labour inspectorates all over the world. We hope to run sessions in other developing countries. By trialling it in this way, we will gather feedback that can inform future developments in the toolkit.”

Where now for flexicurity? – new SPERI Global Political Economy Brief

Monday, March 7th, 2016

A new SPERI Global Political Economy Brief, published today, presents new research by SPERI Associate Fellows Professor Jason Heyes and Dr Thomas Hastings. The Brief shows that across the EU there has been a significant shift towards weaker job security and employment support since the global financial crisis.

Click here to download the report.

Key findings

  • Analysis of data from 19 European states shows that governments across the EU have increased labour market flexibility by weakening and removing employee protections, but have not increased support to help people back into the labour market.
  • This is a European-wide trend, but the dramatic shifts have been in southern Eurozone countries that have received financial bailouts.
  • The findings raise serious questions about the viability of the EU’s ‘flexicurity’ agenda which underpins the European Commission’s social policy and labour market programmes. Flexicurity is based on the idea that modern labour markets should be flexible but should also offer strong support and security for workers.

Professor Jason Heyes:

“In post-crisis Europe there has been a significant policy shift towards a more liberal model of weaker job security and increased labour market flexibility. This is a continent-wide trend and the UK is at the forefront. Britain’s highly flexible labour market used to be an outlier in Europe but now other countries’ systems are looking more like ours.

“Across European Union states it has become easier to lay-off workers, adult training and education provision is declining, and social security systems are being restructured with greater conditionality and ‘workfare’ approaches to benefit entitlements.

“Unless the European Commission and national governments start to remake the case for flexicurity then the prospects for its implementation across Europe look gloomy. However, this would require governments and the Troika to reverse their commitment to austerity and there are no signs that this is at all likely.”

Dr Thomas Hastings:

“The ‘European Social Model’ of strong employee protection and state support to help people back into work appears to be unravelling. No country bucks the trends of moving away from this model. Austerity economic policies are being prioritised over social policies, and this is seen most clearly in the southern states of Spain, Portugal and Greece where the Troika has demanded strict reforms.”

Research toolkit will improve working lives on a global scale

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

MS066

A toolkit developed by experts at the Management School will help ensure that organisations operating in informal economies worldwide are upholding labour standards and respecting employee rights.

Created following research by Professor Jason Heyes (pictured above) and Dr Thomas Hastings, both from the WOERRC research centre, the document entitled Extending Labour Inspection to the Informal Economy, was commissioned by the International Labour Organization (ILO) – a specialised UN agency with 186 member countries.

Professor Heyes, who has worked with the ILO since 1998, commented on the project: “The ILO creates, promotes and upholds labour standards in all of its member states. I work with the Governance and Tripartism Department, which is responsible for providing member countries and social partners with advice and support on matters connected to labour administration and labour inspection. Labour inspectorates are government bodies that, through proactive and reactive inspection work, play a vital role in improving employer compliance with employment rights.

“This toolkit is intended to help labour inspectorates to address employment rights issues in the informal economy, thereby increasing the protection provided to vulnerable workers. Most ILO member countries have a labour inspectorate of some kind – they check workplaces and ensure employers are respecting employment rights, including issues such as minimum wage requirements, health and safety concerns, holiday entitlements, freedom to join trade unions and equal opportunities in the workplace.”

The innovative, easy-to-use toolkit has been designed to connect new academic theories with practice, via actions taken by the inspectorates. It will develop the ILO’s capacity to provide support to countries tackling issues related to the informal economy, and will increase the effectiveness and knowledge of inspectors in improving protection for employees.

The toolkit is accompanied by an online message-board, where users can discuss how the toolkit has impacted on their role and feed-back information to the research team at Sheffield. Dr Hastings discussed further testing of the toolkit: “In December, we will present the toolkit and project findings to senior ILO officials in Prague. Then we hope that it will be trialled in South Africa in the New Year, and are exploring further international testing options throughout 2016. It has a global reach, as we have considered cultural differences throughout and the toolkit can easily be adapted to benefit countries all over the world.”

The practical implications of the toolkit are huge, and align with WOERRC’s mission to promote decent work and decent workplaces and the Management School’s commitment to supporting socially responsible work practices across the world.

This research was funded the ILO and an ESRC Impact Accelerator Award.
Click here to download the toolkit.

Comment: The Uber model and associated controversies, by Thomas Hastings

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

TomHastings

The US firm’s successful expansion into many different countries, including the UK, raises important questions about the regulation of technology-dependent businesses. Originally published on SPERI Comment. By Thomas Hastings, Research Associate in the School of Management and SPERI, University of Sheffield.

The controversies surrounding US technology firm Uber continue and have done so for several years now, with the firm’s notoriety coming hot on the heels of near-constant technological and territorial expansions.

The concept at the heart of Uber’s model is simple yet highly effective: a smartphone app which pairs users with a cab at the stroke of a few soft key buttons. The success of this model – and the spread of smartphones more generally across the globe – is testified by the firm’s expansion into nearly 60 countries and more than 300 cities worldwide. Further validation of the Uber model is provided by the growing list of like-minded companies offering similar services (witness the ‘Uberification’ of Messrs Lyft, Haxi and Curb).

Investors are also keen: in July earlier this summer Uber achieved a record valuation for a venture-backed firm of around US$51 billion. Given all this undoubted business success – and the seeming rise of customer demand – why, then, does controversy follow Uber?

Despite the convenience offered by the app-based approach to finding and taking a taxi, there remains a long list of negatives associated with Uber’s business model and its associated consequences. Perhaps most obviously, Uber has drawn criticism as another tax-avoiding US firm, part-owned by Goldman Sachs, skimming money from host economies. Of course, it is easy to agree that not paying tax is wrong, but it’s notoriously harder to challenge, especially as a hard-pressed consumer (Amazon and Starbucks, to name but two apparently tax-avoiding firms, continue to do a roaring trade).

Additionally, there are the equally obvious (through more direct) casualties in the form of cab drivers not operating on behalf of Uber. In the UK this has been epitomised by the problems experienced by London black-cab drivers whose trade is arguably now under threat. Related economic concerns have also centred on the wages Uber drivers themselves earn, which are reported sometimes to infringe current minimum wage rates depending on the business earned.

There are also further concerns over Uber’s pricing system, which may impact negatively on customers in the event that Uber one day earns monopoly status in the taxi business. Uber typically charges a reasonable average rate, but its prices are based on algorithms that frequently ramp costs up at times of high demand. This was seen clearly in the UK during the London Underground tube strikes that took place this summer when fees rose by as much as 300% in the gridlocked capital. Depending on its future success, will Uber retain its focus on cheap transport or seek to maximise profits for its venture-capitalist owners?

These various concerns and a spate of anti-Uber protests, both in the UK (one of the latest took place outside City Hall in London, disrupting Mayor’s Question Time) and across the globe, have raised broader questions as to how technology-dependent businesses such as Uber should be regulated now and in the future.

One of the more pertinent questions to have emerged concerns a basic point of clarification: are Uber’s drivers employees or independent contractors? If they are employees, would Uber agree to pay the different social security contributions and benefits required by employment law in different nation-states? This issue has so far been dodged by the current London Mayor Boris Johnson, who has defended the Uber model as part of a broader ‘light regulation’ approach to big business and a general desire to promote a knowledge- and technology-friendly economy in the nation’s capital (after all, Britain is not France). Whether this stance in the UK remains the same in future depends, in part, on Johnson’s replacement as Mayor after elections on 5 May 2016. Whether the new office-holder prefers a light or hard approach to regulating firms operating in the capital, this question about employment status is likely to remain key.

The case is well evidenced in the United States, where, despite proactive strategies of labour market regulation driven by Professor David Weil at the US Department of Labor (USDOL), Uber has remained a hugely problematic case. The strategy adopted by Weil and USDOL has been to target powerful operators at the top of corporate supply chains, those which typically operate complex franchising and supply chain models (which Weil terms a form of ‘fissuring’).   Yet, despite taking such a proactive stance to labour-market regulation, USDOL has so far failed to conjure up a unified approach to regulating Uber and related firms that seek to utilise ‘surplus labour and idle assets’ (as noted in The Economist). The grey areas created by these spot markets mean that USDOL, and its equivalents in other countries throughout the world, have often struggled to charge Uber on legal grounds, at least with any confidence.

In the United States, the result of this lacuna has been that taxi drivers themselves have sought legal action against the company. This has included the uptake of the website ‘uberlawsuit.com’, which is currently pursuing clarifications on several of the issues raised above. While such action taken at an individual level indicates at least the partial failure of state labour-market regulation, it also suggests that further protest stages and more advanced strategies may eventually emerge as well in the UK.

It is probably too late for Boris Johnson to change his approach. But the next Mayor of London unquestionably faces tough decisions over whether and how the Uber business model can be integrated into the UK political economy in ways which benefit workers as well as venture capitalists.

Note: Thanks to Lindsey King for helpful discussions on this subject at the 12th Conference of the European Sociological Association held in Prague in August 2015.

Flexicurity: WOERRC event lifts the lid on future directions

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Andrew-Gamble  MikkelMailand  SusanMilner

Labour Market Security and Flexibility: The Future Directions of Flexicurity in the Age of Austerity, was the title of an event jointly hosted at Sheffield University Management School by the Work, Organisation and Employment Relations Research Centre (WOERRC) and the Academic Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES)

Delegates enjoyed a day of lively discussion on the subject, covering such areas as the changing political ideology of labour market regulation, the impact of European youth employment policies before and during the crisis and whether flexicurity is a spent concept. Views from speakers were certainly of a European nature, bringing perspectives from Denmark, France, Spain, Greece and Ireland.

The event was attended by a number of scholars, including PhD students, with an interest in the area – speakers included WOERRC members Prof Jason Heyes and Dr Thomas Hastings, as well as Paul Lewis (University of Birmingham), Prof Andrew Gamble (University of Sheffield – pictured above left) and Phil Whyman (University of Central Lancashire), Mikkel Mailand (University of Copenhagen – pictured above middle), Susan Milner (University of Bath – pictured above right), Oscar Molina (UAB) and Orestis Papadopoulos (Keele University).

Dr Hastings said: “The workshop addressed three main questions – firstly, are member states genuinely seeking to achieve flexicurity or will the future of work simply involve ‘less security’ for workers; secondly, what impact have supra- and international institutions had on national labour market policies; and thirdly, does flexicurity need to be re-thought or simply abandoned?

“Attendees readily engaged with the discussions so it was a rigorous but enjoyable workshop, with funding coming from a small event grant by UACES.”

Read more about WOERRC here.

An international experience – WOERRC introduces students to global leadership in Geneva

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Group-Sign   Jason-Tom-Dean

This week’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) governing body meeting in Geneva had comprehensive representation from Sheffield University Management School’s staff and students.

Working with Global Learning Opportunities in the Social Sciences (GLOSS), Professor Jason Heyes and Dr Thomas Hastings from the Work, Organisation and Employment Relations Research Centre (WOERRC) at the Management School have taken a group of Management and Politics students to the event.

Prof Heyes explained: “The ILO is a United Nations organisation that is responsible for developing and promoting international labour standards and helping its 185 member countries to promote decent work. It is governed on a tripartite basis by governments, employer bodies and trade unions from its member countries. Its governing body meeting develops policy recommendations that are then discussed and ratified at the International Labour Conference.

“As Director of WOERRC, I have a longstanding relationship with the ILO. The students have listened to debates regarding the global challenges facing the ILO, freedom of association, legal issues and international development. Thanks to my connection with the ILO, and the efforts of Sian Parkinson from GLOSS, they have met with ILO officials to discuss social dialogue, migration and employment and have also met an ILO intern – Aaron Booth – who is a former MSc Human Resource Management student from the Management School, recommended to the ILO by myself.

“The students will write a number of policy briefs on issues discussed during the trip. These will be disseminated via WOERRC and GLOSS and will also be highlighted at an event in Westminster on 15 June, which will be attended by PVC of the Faculty of Social Sciences Professor Gill Valentine and to which officials from the ILO and relevant UK organisations will be invited.”

The opportunity to attend this year’s governing body meeting was advertised to final-year BA Business Management and International Business Management students, as well as those on the MSc Human Resource Management and MSc International Business programmes. Prof Heyes and his team selected BA Business Management & Economics student Dean Broomhead as an attendee on the basis of a strong application which highlighted his interest in the ILO and his knowledge of its remit and activities.

We asked Dean what encouraged him to apply for the trip: “Primarily, my motivation behind applying was the fact that this was an incredible, unique opportunity. To have such an experience I believed would not only enhance my wider knowledge but also increase my employability.

“There hasn’t been a single ‘typical’ day at the event. We’ve had the flexibility to tailor our time to areas that we found interesting. Over the course of the trip, I’ve sat in on governing body meetings discussing a vast array of issues and had the opportunity to speak to ILO employees on their fields of expertise. We’ve also visited several other United Nations buildings. Two particular stand-out moments would be visiting ‘the palace of nations’ (the UN headquarters) as it was great to see the history and importance of such a place, and secondly sitting in on the governing body meetings of the ILO, with regards to accusations and breaking of conventions. I was able to see true diplomacy in action on several controversial and topical issues.

“I can certainly relate much of what I’ve learnt back to my degree. Whilst the wider awareness and experience is obviously fantastic, I now have a greater understanding of many topics that I can specifically convey in to my work at University. With relation to career prospects, I am certain this will help me. Not only have I had the chance to grow my network, but also the opportunity to develop many transferable skills.”

Dean found out about the opportunity through his Industrial Relations module, but there was plenty of email correspondence and promotion around the School – he encourages his peers to pay attention to such opportunities: “Whilst sometimes they can be on barely noticeable emails, there are opportunities do things like this through the Management School and I haven’t regretted any moment here. I’m a firm believer in saying yes to any opportunities like this. I doubt many students in the UK or even globally have had the chance to work in agencies of the United Nations and brush shoulders with diplomats and specialists alike.”

The ILO is an international organisation and this has been a fantastic opportunity for students to learn about the work, employment and employment relations challenges facing different countries around the world and to gain a better understanding of how policies are developed and implemented. Keep an eye out for similar opportunities through GLOSS and WOERRC.

http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/gloss

http://www.woerrc.group.shef.ac.uk/