30 April 2020
Work/Life – 33 of 39 Insights
As the scale of coronavirus disruption to businesses and labour markets becomes clear, some reports on the immediate and long-term future of work. There will be more of this: future plans are being accelerated by the recovery measures employers are taking.
Over 30 million workers in Europe's five biggest economies have applied to have their wages paid by the state via short-term leave schemes designed to combat the threat to employment posed by the coronavirus crisis. The number of furloughed workers in Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain amounts to nearly a fifth of those countries' total workforces.
As part of the car manufacturer's preparations to return to work, a group of volunteers at a Ford factory are testing watches that vibrate when employees come within six feet of each other. Supervisors will receive alerts and reports that can be used to monitor social distancing and clustering in the workplace. The device is expected to be part of a wider range of Ford's new safety measures which will also include thermal-imaging scans and face shields for employees.
US businesses are asking Congress to pass measures that would protect companies from coronavirus-related claims when states start to lift pandemic restrictions and businesses begin to reopen. The US Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers and National Federation of Independent Business are seeking temporary, legal and regulatory safe harbour legislation to curb liabilities for employers who follow official health and safety guidelines. "These are practical things to reassure businesses that they can confidently move to implement a reopening," Neil Bradley, the US Chamber of Commerce chief policy officer, said in an interview.
Remote working in Germany looks set to continue even after the threat of coronavirus has passed. Hubertus Heil, the German Labour and Social Affairs Minister, hopes to see the right to work from home enshrined in law: "Anyone who wants to, and whose workplace allows it, should be able to work at home". An estimated 8 million people, or 25% of the country's workforce, are currently working from home across Germany, a figure which has more than doubled from before the pandemic.
Commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE has reported that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is likely to permanently change workspaces and provide more flexibility to workers in terms of space and time. In the firm's annual report,Global Outlook 2030: Fluid Workspace, CBRE suggest that enhanced connectivity could mean the era of a fixed workplace is coming to an end.
The Investment Association (IA) has recommended that companies that have received government support to help them through this crisis should cut executive pay and consider clawing back bonuses from bosses. The IA's members manage more than £7 trillion in assets, and have considerable weight in any vote against future pay awards.More than a third of FTSE 100 companies, including all those publicly claiming taxpayer support for furloughed workers under the Job Retention Scheme, have already announced cuts to executive pay.
Permits for foreign workers in Poland have been automatically extended. This affects between 1-2 million Ukrainians that are estimated to currently live or work in Poland. The regulation allows legally employed foreign nationals to continue their stay and work until 30 days after the emergency state has been lifted. This measure will help employers keep their foreign workforce, whose permits would otherwise expire during the epidemic.