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15 January 2021
Portugal: new lockdown decreed and remote work imposed
Following a meeting of Portugal’s Council of Ministers on 13 January, a new lockdown came into force on 15 January. The measure is to remain in place for a period of one month, but the duration may be revised at the halfway point. Authorities in the country have opted to impose remote working and to govern...
Corporate social responsibility
7 January 2021
Apple to adjust executive bonuses according to social and environmental criteria
In its annual report sent to shareholders on 05 January 5 ahead of it annual general meeting, the American multinational technology company announced that going forward the company will vary the bonuses it pays to its key executives according to six core “values”, namely the environment, inclusion and diversity, privacy and security, education, accessibility, and supplier responsibility. Starting in 2021, the Board of Directors’ Compensation Committee will take these criteria into account to adjust...
30 November 2020
Switzerland: responsible business initiative fails to garner sufficient support
In a vote held on Sunday 29 November, a popular initiative in Switzerland that seeks to hold large companies in the country accountable for the actions of their affiliates and suppliers abroad failed to achieve a majority among Swiss cantons, with only 8.5 votes in favour out of 23, despite achieving a slim majority of 50.7% in the popular vote. As a result, a compromise law that is far less restrictive will be voted on. Many believe nonetheless that the result of the popular vote places a certain amount of...
16 November 2020
UN: negotiations over a treaty on company responsibility in the event of human rights violations make progress, though each side continues to stand firm
On 30 October, the intergovernmental working group concluded the sixth negotiating session on a legally binding instrument on business and human rights, covering the third version of this text. It aims to prevent the risk of human rights abuses as well as to guarantee reparations in the event of breaches, improve access to justice for victims, while also broadening the scope of...
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Digital tools
29 April 2020
Great Britain: the government launches a training platform for furloughed employees during Covid-19
Called The Skills Toolkit, this free online learning system aims to enable the many Britons currently not in full time employment (c.f. article No. 11878) to acquire skills during the pandemic. “I want businesses to encourage their furloughed employees to use The Skills Toolkit to improve their knowledge, build their confidence and support their mental health so they have skills they need to succeed after the coronavirus outbreak,” said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson at the launch of the offer on...
Managing the fallout of Covid-19
16 October 2019
Digital tools : UK start-up ‘predicts’ employee resignations
Oxford-based visual data management start-up, Zegami, has just launched a new tool for employers that will enable them to predict which employees are most likely to resign from their jobs. Called Zegami HR, the platform operates using a tailor-made algorithm developed from work carried out at the Oxford University Computational Biology division into the factors that made people happy at work in a company. The algorithm uses relevant data and includes age, salary, career path, academic history, career satisfaction...
30 September 2019
Digital tools: when companies offer work experience that is 100% virtual
Doing an internship at a multinational firm without even leaving the house, and perhaps while still in one’s pyjamas, is now a possibility, thanks to the concept of virtual work experience offered by the Australian start-up InsideSherpa. Since 2017, the company has offered short work experience programmes, exclusively online, at companies from all over the globe. While students see the platform as an unprecedented opportunity to discover large companies and gain experience, employers using this method hope to...
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HR practices
11 December 2020
United Kingdom: Unilever commits to preventing discrimination on the basis of hair and hairstyles
The consumer goods giant Unilever has signed up to the Halo Code, the UK’s first black hair code, which aims to protect people with afros and other black hairstyles so they can go to work or to school with those hairstyles without fear of being judged. According to the activists that founded the code, and formed the Halo Collective, one in five black women feel societal pressure to straighten their hair for work. “Despite hair being a protected racial characteristic under the law [on discrimination], there is...
10 December 2020
Great Britain: Just Eat shakes up the gig economy by offering its drivers an hourly wage
After recently adopting a similar approach in other European countries, the mobile app-based home food delivery giant Just Eat is starting to end its practice of paying per completed job. This gig economy arena revolution means Just Eat drivers can earn at least the minimum hourly wage and enjoy social benefits rights. Between now and March, more than 1,000 employment contracts will be created in London, be they part-time, full-time, or zero hour contracts (i.e. those that guarantee neither working time nor...
2 December 2020
Unilever 4-day working week trial in New Zealand
From 07 December and for a one-year trail period, 81 employees working in sales, distribution and marketing roles at the Unilever food giant in New Zealand will be working in the office for 4 days a week while being paid for 5. The UK multinational has explicitly stated that the daily working hours of these employees will not be extended. “If we end up in a situation where the team is working four extended days then we miss the point of this. We don’t want our team to have really long days, but to bring...
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Industrial relations
14 January 2021
Great Britain: Morrisons is set to become the first UK supermarket to pay its employees at least £10 (€11.20) per hour
This new basic hourly rate of £10 per hour (€11.22 E) was negotiated as part of a wage agreement by the retail trade union, Usdaw, which is now asking its members to formally accept this landmark deal, and which if approved, will take effect from 05 April 2021. Morrisons said that 96,000 employees, currently being paid £9.20 pounds per hour (€10.32), should benefit from this increase that will raise their pay above the Living Wage level of £9.50 (€10.66). For Usdaw national officer, Joanne McGuinness,...
5 January 2021
Germany: IG Metall calling to reset the balance between employee and capital representatives on corporate supervisory boards
German trade unions are starting call for a shift in the current distribution of voting rights on corporate supervisory boards between shareholder representatives and those representing employees. The main driver behind this call is the IG Metall union, which believes that during the current round of sector-based collective bargaining, employee opinion can take priority as regards decisions on the implications of the digital and electrical transitions as well as on the future of the production sites. The IG BCE...
5 January 2021
United States: Google gets a trade union
Two software engineers working at the Alphabet group, Google’s parent company, have just triggered a ‘mini-bomb’ in the form of their newly created Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) that is affiliated with the CWA, Communication Workers of America, which traditionally represents telecommunications and media personnel in North America. Rather than assuming a negotiating role (AWU is a minority trade union) the AWU body instead intends to draw attention to certain discriminatory practices for which the Google is being criticized.
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Legal developments
13 January 2021
EU-China comprehensive agreement on investment: more promises than constraints
The conclusion-in-principle that was settled at the end of December ahead of ratification of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CIA) has come after seven years of tough protracted negotiations. The EU has presented it as creating ‘a better balance in the EU-China trade relationship.’ The agreement aims to be pragmatic, in guaranteeing EU investors an unprecedented level of access to different sectors of the Chinese economy, under fairer competition conditions, and according to clearer rules...
13 January 2021
South Africa: a draft code of practices to combat harassment and violence in the workplace
On 11 January 2021, President Cyril Ramaphosa pledged to ratify ILO Convention No.190 (Harassment and Violence in the Workplace). South Africa however already has legislation that the government considers to be at the forefront on the subject. On 20 August 2020, Labor Minister, Thulas Nxesi, published draft legislation entitled ‘Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work,’ which above all clarifies the rules in light of the international convention and...
12 January 2021
EU: European Commission launches an consultation on allowing collective bargaining for self-employed workers
Faced with legal uncertainties resulting from European treaties that can see online platforms employees being considered as companies, and therefore any potential collective agreements as illegal, the European Commission is looking to allow self-employed workers have access to the right to collective representation. As such, the European Commission is launching a consultation that will run from 06 January – 03 February, and will publish the results with a view to adopting future legislation. While the...
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