17 June 2021
Work/Life – 13 of 45 Insights
Welcome to the latest edition of our international employment news update.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the US has published guidance covering how employers can require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Companies will be able to legally provide incentives, including cash, to workers but must not be "coercive".
Vaccination can only be required for employees returning to the workplace and the Disabilities Act must still be complied with, accommodating individuals who cannot receive jabs for health reasons. Some organisations are waiting to mandate vaccines until all demographics have equal opportunity to receive the jab, while others will only encourage vaccines.
Goldman Sachs has announced that ahead of US employees' return to the office on 14 June, they must report if they have received the vaccine.
Employers who want to motivate staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine will now be legally permitted to award them a vaccination bonus, although some argue that this is "highly questionable". According to Dutch law firms, employment law presents no obstacles to this scheme, but companies must comply with privacy laws which prevent employers from storing medical records on their files.
From 1 July, new dads in France will be entitled to 25 days of paternity leave, an increase from the current 11-day entitlement. The move brings France in line with other European countries and, according to President Macron, aims to "promote equality between women and men". Four of these paternity leave days must be taken immediately after the birth, while the others can be taken at the father's discretion within six months of the birth.
Recent reports indicate that uncertainty in Germany's hospitality industry due to the coronavirus pandemic has led to staff switching to crisis-proof jobs and moving to regions with fewer restrictions. To attract skilled labour, some managers are considering pay increases, risking short-term inflation. Restauranteur Emily Harmon said that situation "highlighted issues in the sector: low pay rates, long hours". The desirability of work/life balance is also more prevalent than ever, as the pandemic has encouraged people working in hospitality to reassess their perspectives on life.
Almost half of all UK businesses are expected to reduce the size of their office space, according to a survey by PwC. The survey results reveal plans for companies to reduce their office portfolio by nearly 9 million square feet as they adopt the hybrid work arrangement on a permanent basis. Once UK work from home restrictions are lifted on 19 July, companies anticipate employees will only work from the office two or three days a week as the flexibility is now "embedded into the working culture". Over 70% of survey respondents announced plans to support hybrid work models by increasing their investment in technology.
Office for National Statistics data shows that 1.3 million Brits were taken off the UK government's furlough scheme in March and April as the economy began to open. At the scheme's peak in January, 5 million individuals relied on furlough, with 11.2 million employees benefiting from the scheme since its inception. Data revealed that the arts and hospitality industries continue to use furlough the most, as the restrictions in these sectors remain stringent. UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak said, "the scheme is naturally winding down as people get back to work and take advantage of the opportunities out there in the jobs market." The scheme will end in September 2021.
Germany’s government has agreed to extend the special allowances for short-time workers until the end of September due to the pandemic. Employers will continue to benefit from the short-time work funds to keep workers on the payroll. The plan represents the government's attempt to deter mass unemployment due to the coronavirus crisis.
Unions and employers in the Netherlands have reached an agreement reforming the labour market to give more security to staffing agency workers and freelancers. The SER – a forum made up of union, employer and lay members – says that zero-hour contracts should be eliminated and working for the same employer on a temporary contract should be limited to three years. It is calling for the minimum wage to increase in line with social security benefits, and demanding payroll constructions be outlawed and staffing agencies be licensed and more strictly monitored to prevent the exploitation of workers.