8 October 2020
Work/Life – 2 of 17 Insights
During the pandemic employers have turned to real-time monitoring software for comprehensive data-gathering on staff. But do these technologies undermine engagement and productivity? International legal and cultural attitudes to surveillance may differ (as the H&M case below illustrates).
There are reports of increasing levels of surveillance of homeworkers. US-based Hubstaff has seen a fourfold increase in UK customers since February for its surveillance software. Privacy International says deploying this kind of software risks turning the remote workplace into a "digital sweatshop".
The German unit of Swedish fashion retailer H&M has been fined a record €35 million for illegal "surveillance" of staff. The authorities accused H&M of having systematically collected information about the private lives of employees and creating employee profiles used for decisions in the employment relationship. For more, see our article on employee surveillance policies.
A McKinsey global survey of 800 executives has predicted an increased requirement for independent contractors and gig economy workers and greater adoption of automation and digitisation. The survey suggests the short-term disruption to our working lives caused by the pandemic will fuel the acceleration of workplace changes already in progress.
People with jobs in the fields of health and hygiene, data analytics and cybersecurity are expected to enjoy a greater demand for work.
Inspired by the largely successful German model of short-time work (Kurzarbeit), the Slovak government is currently working on its own version of a similar permanent job retention tool to be better prepared for future economic crises. A parliamentary vote on the new bill is expected to take place early next year and, if adopted, the new bill should come into effect on 1 January 2022.
The Supreme Court of Spain has ruled that riders for Glovo courier service are employees. Glovo contended it was simply an intermediary between restaurants and self-employed riders. The landmark decision may enable Spanish gig economy workers to demand formal labour contracts and benefits and comes as the Spanish government and EU consider further regulation of the sector.
The UAE has taken another step towards promoting gender equality by passing a landmark law to ensure equal pay for men and women in the private sector for performance of the same or equal value work. The new legislation has improved the UAE's status on the world's gender equality index, gaining 23 places in the rankings to 26th globally.
Legal & General – which boasts 2-3% ownership of every blue-chip UK company – has demanded that the third of the FTSE 100 and some firms in the US S&P 500 that currently have an all-white board, must hire an ethnic-minority director by 2022 or it will vote against them.
This supports a call by the Confederation of British Industry, who last week urged the largest UK firms to have at least one BAME member at board level by the end of 2021, while FTSE 250 firms should achieve the same by 2024. Research undertaken by global management consultants McKinsey showed that firms with ethnic minority representation at board level are more likely to be profitable.
California-based public corporations must have at least one executive who is from an underrepresented community by the end of 2021.