14 May 2020
Work/Life – 8 of 15 Insights
Welcome to the latest edition of our international employment news update.
McDonald's Germany has agreed to 'share' its employees with Aldi to help manage the increased demand for groceries as the coronavirus pandemic overwhelms food retailers. Nicolas de Lope, a spokesman for the board of Aldi Nord, said "special times require special solutions".
The move comes as part of an increasing trend of "coopetition" in response to the crisis. Workers at energy company Shell's Rhineland refinery have recently shifted their focus towards producing disinfectants for local pharmacies. This model is likely to become increasingly popular as the economic downturn worsens.
UK employees able to work from home may soon be givena legal right to do so after the lockdown ends. Under the Business Secretary's rumoured proposals, employers would be limited to rejecting requests to work from home if the work can only be done in the workplace. Ministers hope that this will reduce demand for public transport and limit the costs for employers in making their workplaces safe for social distancing.
Staff at Twitter have been told they can work from home "forever". The social media giant said its lockdown measures – which have seen 4,000 employees work from home since March – have been a success:"The past few months have proven we can make that work. So if our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen."
The attorney general for California claims that ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft wrongly classified their drivers as independent contractors in violation of Assembly Bill 5, which makes them employees. At least one million gig workers benefit from this law, which is intended to provide a path to minimum wage and unemployment insurance. The move is expected to influence other states with similar laws to take action against gig companies.
The Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain (IWGB), whose members include cleaners, drivers and couriers, has warned that gig workers are at risk because of the government's failure to enforce EU safety at work regulations.
The IWGB has threatened legal action over claims that many of its members are not being provided with personal protective equipment or testing for infection. In a letter to the Department for Work and Pensions, the IWGB has said that protection under the EU directive should apply to workers as well as to employees.
The next round of state support for Dutch companies will be tailored to the sectors worst affected by the coronavirus crisis. The government is hoping to provide more support to the hospitality and fitness sectors, and to shift the focus from paying wages to fixed costs. Ministers have confirmed that retraining staff will play an important role in the new plans, as will a ban on dividends and bonuses for companies which benefit from the support.
Swedish companies, including Volvo and SKF, plan to pay out nearly 15 billion kronor ($1.5 billion) in dividends despite cutting jobs and applying for state aid. Auto-manufacturer Volvo has temporarily laid off all of its 20,000 staff but intends to pay 11.2 billion kronor in dividends. SKF, who have applied for 40 million kronor in aid, will pay a 1.3 billion kronor dividend. Sweden's parliament had previously urged those firms receiving government subsidies to suspend dividends.
UK online food delivery service Ocado is expected to face opposition from shareholders over its £88m bonus payout to four executives. Chief executive Time Steiner's £54m bonus is one of the largest payouts by a UK listed company.
At least 25% of shareholders, including Royal London Asset Management (RLAM), are expected to protest against the payouts. RLAM described the bonuses as "a classic example of how poorly designed incentive plans can lead to excessive awards for management".