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North America
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky says he will live full-time in Airbnb properties

Brian Chesky, the billionaire CEO and co-founder of Airbnb, has said he will permanently live in a rotation of properties listed by the home rental company. “Starting today, I’m living on Airbnb,” Brian Chesky tweeted on Tuesday. “I’ll be staying in a different town or city every couple of weeks.” The move is seen as furthering Airbnb's commitment to remote work arrangements that are a boost to the company's long-term rental business. “I think the pandemic has created the biggest change to travel since the advent of commercial flying,” he tweeted. Chesky predicted that this year will see people “spreading out to thousands of towns and cities, staying for weeks, months, or even entire seasons at a time . . . More people will start living abroad, others will travel for the entire summer, and some will even give up their leases and become digital nomads,” he tweeted. “Cities and countries will compete to attract these remote workers, and it will lead to a redistribution of where people travel and live.” Chesky said in an Airbnb earnings call last May that company employees won't need to return to the office until September 2022 or beyond and said in November that Airbnb's work policy will remain “flexible” permanently.

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Human Times
Unemployment rate in UK falls to 4.1%

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data show that the UK unemployment rate dropped from 4.5% to 4.1% between September and November. The figures reveal that unemployment fell by 184,000, with the number of people on the payroll climbing to 30 million. Analysis shows that the employment rate was estimated at 75.5%, lower than before the pandemic but higher than in the June to August period. Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, noted that the number of employees on payrolls is “now well above pre-pandemic levels.” He added that in the three months to November, the unemployment rate fell to near pre-pandemic levels while the number of people who had recently been made redundant declined to a record low. The ONS report also shows that the number of job vacancies in the three months to December rose to an all-time-high of 1.247m. While the rate of growth in vacancies has been slowing, there are now a record 4.1 openings for every 100 employee jobs. Meanwhile, weekly earnings, excluding bonuses, rose by 3.8% in the three months to November compared to the same period a year earlier. However, the figures revealed a slowdown in growth, with the rate falling short of the 4.3% recorded between August and October. While earnings rose, soaring rates of inflation mean workers suffered a real-terms cut in their pay packets. Inflation hitting a 10-year high of 5.1% in November effectively means workers have seen a 1.6% cut in pay. With pay rises being cancelled out by the cost of living for the first time in a year and a half, Martin Beck, chief economic advisor to the EY Item Club, described the situation as “an unwelcome development which is likely to worsen over the next few months.”

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Human Times
Taking office chair home is not a sacking offence, German labour court rules

A German labour court has ruled that taking an office chair home in a pandemic is not a sacking offence. The plaintiff - the legal adviser of the Catholic Archdiocese of Cologne - took the ergonomic office chair without asking after being told to work from home by her employer. The judge said that while it was a clear transgression, it was not one that justified her dismissal, and he deemed that the termination of her contract was unjust.  The attorney for the archdiocese had argued that the chair was an "object of considerable value" and that taking it was "illegal." The judge found that the necessary equipment had not been made available to employees when the archdiocese instructed staff to work from home in most circumstances early in 2020.

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Human Times
Middle East
Expat fee pushes one million foreigners from Saudi employment market

The introduction of an expat fee in 2018 has contributed to a total of 1.05 million foreign workers leaving the Saudi employment market. The figure represents just over 10% of the total number of foreign workers in the kingdom, according to monitoring by Okaz/Saudi Gazette based on government reports. The monthly expat fee was SR400 per employee in 2018 and it rose to SR600 in 2019 and has been SR800 since 2020. The number of non-Saudi workers totalled around 10.42 million at the end of 2017, but dropped to about 9.36 million by the end of the third quarter of 2021. Meanwhile, the total number of Saudi workers increased by 5.66% over the same period.  The increase of about 179,000 Saudi citizens in the workforce brought the total number of Saudi workers to 3.34 million, compared to 3.16 million at the end of 2017.

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