3 June 2021
Work/Life – 4 of 35 Insights
Welcome to the latest edition of our international employment news update.
As the French government ends its recommendation to work from home on a full-time basis, workers in France are expected to return to offices from 9 June for the first time since October 2020. “We are giving the power back to employers and workers to determine the appropriate number of days, but this does not mean abandoning remote working”, said labour minister Élisabeth Borne. While bars, restaurants and cafes will open indoors, as well as travel from non-EU countries, Britons traveling to France will only be permitted to travel for essential reasons and be required to quarantine for 7 days upon arrival.
The European Parliament and Council have agreed on new regulations designed to revise the EU Blue Card, first introduced in 2009, which will make it more attractive for highly skilled workers to live and work in the EU. Member states will retain autonomy as to how many Blue Cards they issue to non-EU professionals, but under the revised Blue Card Directive, it is predicted that the new framework will keep the flow of skilled labour up. Once confirmed, member states will have two years to implement the updated Directive into national law.
The hospitality industry is suffering severe staff shortfalls as foreign workers returned and remained home due to the pandemic. Foreign workers represented 24% of hospitality workers across the UK, and 60% in London. Industry leaders are asking the government to intervene with a series of relaxed immigration rules. Suggestions include a coronavirus recovery visa to support the revival of businesses in the hospitality industry, in particular in order to boost a post pandemic economy. Home Secretary Priti Patel is expected to announce reforms designed to attract skilled workers to work in the UK.
The Labour Party in the Netherlands (PvdA) is pushing to implement legislation which would grant employees the right to disconnect from work. Home workers struggle to switch off and increasingly feel obliged to respond to emails and calls at all times of the day and night. The Council of State suggests that provisions are already in place which allow employees and employers to agree their working hours to act as the dividing line between work and private life. Despite this, the Council admits that burnout is becoming an increasingly prevalent issue amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The number of age discrimination complaints increased by 74% in the past year. While the total number of claims brought decreased by 1.5%, 3,668 age discrimination claims were brought in 2020 compared to 2,112 in 2019. Researchers predict that these complaints will continue to increase as the furlough scheme comes to an end and employers favour younger employees. Professionals fear that the current unemployment rate of over 50s, which has already risen by 48% over the last year, will be worsened as "older workers are more likely to drift into long-term unemployment than their younger counterparts."
Following Uber's recognition of the GMB union, its 70,000 UK drivers will have collective bargaining powers and the right to be represented in negotiations over where they work, earnings, pensions, benefits and health and wellbeing. This comes after the UK's Supreme Court decision that Uber drivers are workers and entitled to a minimum wage, vacation pay, and other benefits. "This agreement shows gig economy companies don't have to be a wild west on the untamed frontier of employment rights," said GMB National Officer Mick Rix.
In a judgement this month, the French Supreme Court ruled that an employee cannot draw on the principle of equal treatment to claim the rights and benefits of a settlement agreement concluded between the company and another employee to terminate and/or prevent a potential dispute. According to the judges, the conclusion of a settlement agreement does not create rights with respect to other employees.