25 June 2020
Work/Life – 42 of 52 Insights
State support measures designed to save jobs will not prevent widespread job losses in Europe, according to research by Allianz economists. Almost one third of Europe's workforce – 45 million jobs in the five largest economies – currently benefit from state support, but research suggests 9 million workers could lose their jobs once support measures run their course. Accommodation, food services, entertainment, and retail will not recover to pre-crisis levels until late 2021. Hygeine protocols, social distancing, and uncertainty over demand mean workers in these sectors "face an elevated risk of becoming unemployed in 2021 because of the muted recovery".
IKEA is set to repay salaries issued by nine governments under furlough schemes, as its stores reopen around the world. The Swedish-based retailer is in a stronger position than expected, said retail operations manager Tolga Oncu: "Now we know more than what we did in February and March, it’s just the right thing to go back and say, 'Hey guys, thanks very much, you helped us through this difficult period and so now can we see about paying this back or forward'." IKEA joins the Spectator and the Telegraph, who recently announced they would also be paying back furlough money after remaining profitable during the pandemic.
A survey of 2,000 employees has shown that a third of furloughed employees have been asked to carry out work while furloughed. This news comes as HMRC has announced a 30-day window for employers to confess to furlough fraud. Dawn Register, Tax Resolution partner at BDO, said that this is an opportunity for employers to check for mistakes in their claims under the job retention scheme: "After this, it will be 'gloves off' for HMRC to pursue incorrect claimants using both criminal and civil powers."
launched an artificial intelligence-based tracking system to enforce social distancing at its offices and warehouses, to help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus among its workers. Monitors in Amazon's warehouses will highlight workers keeping a safe distance in green circles, while workers who are closer will be highlighted in red circles. The technology will help bosses identify the busiest areas in the workplace. Amazon is also testing a wearable device that provides visual and audio alerts when workers get too close to each other, as the company faces pressure to do more to protect staff from the pandemic.
UK employers need to take "urgent action" to support workers from ethnic minorities, after a survey found the number of Black professionals in leadership roles has barely increased since 2014. Business in the Community, a group founded by the Prince of Wales to promote responsible business, found that Black people held 1.5% of the 3.7 million leadership positions across the UK’s public and private sectors in 2019, compared with 1.4% in 2014. The Parker Review estimates that more than a third of the UK's listed companies will miss the target to appoint at least one non-White board-level director by the end of 2021.
Senior executives at Wells Fargo will be evaluated annually on how much they have increased representation and inclusion of diverse workers in their teams. Pay will be adjusted to reflect their success, CEO Charlie Scharf told staff in an internal memo. Scharf said he wants to double the number of Black leaders at the bank – who currently account for 6% of senior management – within the next five years. To help reach this goal, Scharf has created a new diversity and inclusion position reporting directly to the CEO.
The US Supreme Court has ruled that employers who dismiss workers for being gay or transgender are breaking civil rights laws. The Supreme Court found that federal law, which prohibits discrimination based on gender, should be understood to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's first nominee to the Supreme Court, wrote: "Ours is a society of written laws ... An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law." The ruling will have a big impact for the 8.1 million LGBT workers in the US, because many states don't protect them from workplace discrimination.
Workers on flexible and zero hours contracts whose income has been affected by coronavirus can now claim support. The scheme is expected to help students and agency workers who fell through the cracks of previous government initiatives. This moves comes as the Hague city council announced that some self-employed individuals eligible for state support had been paid twice because of a technology error.