3 December 2020
Work/Life – 3 of 22 Insights
Welcome to the latest edition of our international employment news update.
The UK's post-Brexit points-based immigration system became operational on 1 December 2020. EU migrants wishing to work in the UK no longer have an automatic right to do so but can apply for a skilled worker visa, which must be supported by a sponsoring employer, to begin work from the New Year. Applicants will be assessed and awarded points based on their salary, language skills, relevant qualifications and job offer.
A Global Talent, Innovator and Start-Up visa has also been introduced to attract "those who have an exceptional talent or show promise in the fields of engineering, science, tech or culture", said Home Secretary Priti Patel.
According to information from the Ifo (Institute for Economic Research), the share of companies in Germany using short-time working increased to 28% in November compared to 24.8% in the previous month. This most likely results from the partial lockdown, which has a particularly hard impact on employment in the tourism and restaurant sectors.
Germany's coalition government will introduce a mandatory quota for female executives. The agreed bill requires listed companies whose management boards have more than three members to include at least one woman. The previous voluntary system introduced in 2015 failed to address gender inequality in leadership roles.
According to a survey by the AllBright Foundation, women comprise only 12.8% of boardroom members of German blue-chip companies. In comparison, the representation of women in executive positions is 28.6% in the US, 24.5% in the UK and 22.2% in France.
According to a highly critical report produced by the Financial Reporting Council – which oversees how businesses comply with the Stewardship Code of governance best practice – listed companies are paying lip service by treating the reporting requirements for diversity in management as a "box ticking" exercise.
Many companies stated the importance of diversity at board and executive committee level but were lacking in evidence of outcomes to support their assertions, especially for management diversity.
The review looked at 100 of the top 250 UK listed companies. Only 58 reported full compliance with all the code's requirements.
Despite the pandemic, the Hungarian government is prioritising a workplace for disabled people and is increasing the support amount available to employers by HUF 2 billion (approximately EUR 5.6 million) to facilitate the employment of people with disabilities.
As the health crisis has resulted in telework, the French social partners have concluded a new national agreement on 26 November 2020.
It doesn't create any new rights, but lists the practices in this area that were scattered throughout legislation, collective bargaining agreements and case law. Employers and employees will now be able to refer easily to this agreement to have a unified vision.
Regarding telework in a crisis such as the pandemic, companies are now expected to anticipate and implement the applicable procedures (business continuity plan, identification of eligible activities etc) by reference to the agreement or the teleworking charter.
The UK Arcadia Group has gone into administration, putting 13,000 UK jobs at risk.
The group, which has 444 high street stores, owns Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins and Burton. Administrators Deloitte say there are no redundancies planned immediately, while they seek potential buyers for the group. MPs and unions are urging the owners to protect the pension pots of thousands of employees as the group faces an estimated £350 million pension deficit.
Within hours of the announcement it was also confirmed that Debenhams will go into liquidation, threatening a further 12,000 jobs.
Research by human and labour rights organisation Equidem has shown that Qatari employers across several sectors have deprived low-wage migrant workers of salaries and other benefits for as long as six months leaving them in extreme poverty.
Some employers' responses to the pandemic included dismissal without notice, reduced wages or unpaid leave, while many workers affected by wage abuses also suffer from inadequate food and housing provisions.
This "wage theft on an unprecedented scale" was also reported in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where government and business policies in response to the pandemic may amount to race discrimination.