11 June 2020
Work/Life – 5 of 14 Insights
Paris' appeals court has awarded former perfume company employee Frédéric Desnard €40,000 in damages after he suffered from “bore-out” because he was not given anything interesting to do. Mr Desnard was employed as a manager and said that his health deteriorated after he was given menial tasks to perform over a four year period which he described as "a descent into hell”. This is the first verdict of its kind in France, and is a warning to employers that workers should not be over or under-worked.
French labour minister Muriel Pénicaud has said that France's temporary unemployment scheme will be extended, and is expected to last up to two years. She told a French radio station “we are going to put in place a long-term partial-activity scheme” which "is likely to last a year or two".
At the end of April, 8.9 million workers were benefitting from the French scheme. An additional 1 million jobs are expected to be lost in the next six months. This move comes as governments across Europe – including the UK, Germany and Italy – announced (or are considering) extensions to their schemes.
The UK Treasury has announced that 8.9 million workers are now covered by the furlough scheme, at a cost of close to £20bn. From July 2020, employers can take advantage of "flexible furloughing" and bring furloughed employees back part-time. From August 2020, workers on furlough will continue to receive 80% of their salary, but employers will be expected to contribute a share of the employment costs.
After a peak in unemployment in April 2020, the jobs outlook in Austria continues to improve. From mid-April to the end of May 2020, unemployment dropped by 11%. There was a particularly sharp decline in unemployment in the hospitality industry as measures affecting this sector were relaxed. Despite the number of people returning to work, employment figures are still significantly lower than pre-lockdown figures.
Downturns tend to reduce gender inequality, but The Economist reports that this has not been the case under COVID-19. Women are more likely to work in services that require interacting with other people, and so have borne the brunt of the economic disruption caused by lockdown. In the UK, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggests that mothers are one-and-a-half times more likely than fathers to have lost or quit their jobs during lockdown.
The IFS also found that mothers working at home are 50% more likely to be interrupted than fathers. These patterns could harm pay and promotions: “I fear we’ll see the impact in two to three years’ time in a widening gender pay gap,” said Vera Troeger, professor of political economy at Warwick University.
As UK companies release statements condemning racism in the wake of global protests, research by recruitment consultancy Green Park shows that Black people represent less than 1% of business leaders running the UK's largest companies. British boardrooms joining the conversation about inequality should expect increased scrutiny over their own record, the Telegraph reports. Green Park estimates that FTSE 100 companies will not achieve genuine boardroom diversity until 2066.
Cities across the world are rethinking their transport strategy in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In New York, Mexico City, Berlin and Budapest, car-free side streets have been introduced to promote cycling to work. The number of people cycling during lockdown in the UK has almost doubled, and cyclists are hoping that the reshaping of our towns and cities is more than a temporary change.
An increase in "active commuting" would have a significant impact on workers' health. A recent study of more than 300,000 commuters showed that cycling to work can cut the risk of early death from illnesses such as heart disease and cancer by up to 24%.