10 March 2021
Work/Life – 10 of 35 Insights
Welcome to the latest edition of our international employment news update.
While remote working has allowed some to survive and even thrive, the retail, hospitality and healthcare sectors have suffered significantly. Industry leaders fear London and Paris could be "scarred for a long time", with an OECD report finding that there were 41% fewer job vacancies in London in January 2021 than February 2020.
The report also found that major European capitals have experienced increased labour inequality and are at risk of facing the most long-lasting affects, as major companies strategise for permanent remote working. Working from home has increased 5.4% more in Madrid than the rest of Spain, and 7.3% more in Berlin than the rest of Germany. Figures in Paris and London, however, are not as noteworthy – 4% and 2.4% higher than in the rest of France and the UK, respectively.
The European Union executive is attempting to toughen pay reporting obligations for companies, forcing employers to be much more transparent about their policies to facilitate women challenging wage imbalances.
The European Commission is seeking to close the current 14.1% pay gap across the 27-nation bloc. The current draft rules will require more detailed information from larger firms with over 250 employees, and propose economic penalties for companies that do not supply adequate information.
Criticism for some FTSE100 companies comes after a report has exposed that only 49% published any anti-sexual harassment policy compared to 69% of companies in the S&P 500. These findings are significant as more than $12 trillion are invested in index funds and this tracking prevents investors from withholding money from specific companies on their ESG grounds.
The Equileap Global Report on Gender Equality revealed that 85% of FTSE 100 companies reported on the gender pay gap compared to only 9% of S&P 500 companies. Deborah Gilshan at Equileap said that although the findings show some progress, passive fund managers still have an obligation to improve companies' diversity figures.
Companies registered at the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange have cut jobs significantly over the past 12-month period, with the likes of AkzoNobel (1,600 jobs) and KLM (1,300 jobs) seriously downsizing. It's not all bad news, though: reports are that by taking such drastic actions, most of the companies are financially in good shape and ready to re-hire in better times.
The Hungarian government plans to exempt those under the age of 25 from personal income tax from 1 January 2022. Prime Minister Orban said that to support young people following the phased reintroduction of Hungary's 13-month pension, it was important they be given the full tax break up to a threshold of an average salary.
In October 2020, the European Court of Justice ruled that France's national data retention rules do not comply with EU law. Policies around data retention have remained a contentious matter between those who prioritise security – notably the police, prosecutors and governments – and privacy activists.
Now, France is trying to avoid the EU ruling that requires national law to set limits to mass data retention and data collection practices. By arguing that it goes against the country's "constitutional identity", Paris is also arguing that the EU law should not apply at national level, which echoes similar arguments in Germany recently.
After several delays, unemployment insurance reform comes into effect in France on 1 July 2021. Until now, the allowance was calculated on the basis of days worked over a 12-month period. Moving forward, a period of 24 months will be taken into account. Unédic, an agency managing the French unemployment insurance system, predicts that 840,000 unemployed will see their allowance reduced as a result.
This is the first main reform to be enacted; the modifies the conditions of eligibility for unemployment allowance and will not come into force before 1 October. Its recipients need to have worked six months out of 28 (instead of four out of 24) to receive an allowance.
Following accusations of bullying and inappropriate working practices from more than a dozen staff, Dimple Agarwal, Deloitte's UK Deputy Chief Executive of Diversity and Inclusion, is stepping down. Complaints included communicating aggressively and forcing staff to attend meetings at extremely early hours.
Car manufacturer Audi has announced that it is introducing gender-sensitive language in future communication across their German locations. Volkswagen is also reported to be considering similar practices.
The increasingly relevance of equal opportunity and inclusion concerns in recent years has seen Audi promote innovative new working formats that encourage diversity, job-sharing, and a better work/life balance.