6 August 2020
Work/Life – 13 of 25 Insights
Welcome to the latest edition of our international employment news update.
Half of the UK's biggest employers plan to keep all staff working remotely for the next few months and only a fifth plan to bring staff back full time, a survey of 94 businesses has found. Nearly half of the employers surveyed did not expect staff to return to the office for the same number of days as before once the pandemic is over.
The Chartered Governance Institute and The Core Partnership have warned that firms are "struggling to convince workers it is safe to return" and report that others are considering the risk of a second wave of the virus. Research has found that more than one in three workers want a vaccine or antibody test to be ready before they return to the workplace.
A New York federal judge has ruled that New York State must pay Uber and Lyft drivers unemployment benefits like other workers. Drivers on the ridesharing apps claimed that the state was taking much longer to pay drivers than other workers. "Today's decision is a huge victory for app-based drivers across New York," said Nicole Salk, an attorney representing the drivers.
Uber drivers also hit the headlines in the UK as the dispute over its drivers' employment status are also suing the company in the Netherlands, as they look to get more clarity on the algorithms the company uses in an effort to demonstrate an employment relationship exists.
Prosecutors in Poland are suing IKEA after the furniture retailer fired an employee for anti-gay comments made at a company Pride event, saying the firm infringed on the employee's religious rights. The retailer said the worker's remarks were incompatible with its workplace culture based on "freedom of ideas, tolerance and respect," but prosecutors have alleged the move restricts a worker's rights because of their religious beliefs. Marcin Sadus, of Warsaw prosecutors' office, said that IKEA was compelled to "respect the freedom of expression of views, conscience and religion, and not to discriminate against employees on the basis of their world view".
In 2018, over 200 of Los Angeles' leading tech investors launched PledgeLA to promote diversity in the tech industry in Southern California. At the time the initiative launched, only 11% of VC partners were women, and only 2% identified as African American or Latino. Results from the latest annual report shows that LA VC funds are making progress. They invest in start-ups founded by women at twice the rate of top VC funds nationally, and invest in start-ups founded by Black and Latino founders at more than double the national rate.
Cinny Kennard, executive director of the Annenberg Foundation, which supports PledgeLA, said: "We're following a model of signing the pledge, then data, then action, then impact." These results come as the UK's FCA announced it will take a more active role in promoting diversity if firms are not willing to do so. It warned that it will block director appointments if companies fail to hire more women and ethnic minority candidates for top roles.
Germany-headquartered sandal maker Birkenstock plans to give its US employees a paid holiday for the US presidential election on 3 November. David Kahan, CEO of Birkenstock Americas, said: "We are certainly not doing it to make a political statement or a social statement . . . We really just want to empower our workforce."
The company is the latest to join a growing movement aimed at encouraging workers to vote. The Time to Vote initiative says more than 600 companies have committed to helping their staff get access to information about voting and making adjustments to working patterns on election day.
Iceland's tourism agency has launched a campaign that will allow people stressed by work and the pandemic to broadcast their screams at seven unpopulated locations throughout the country. "Record your scream from anywhere in the world . . . and we'll release it in Iceland. You'll feel better, we promise!", says the campaign website.