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Middle East Edition
30th July 2021
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Bumble to give staff unlimited paid leave
Dating app Bumble has said its 700 employees can take unlimited paid leave providing their manager approves it. It is understood that the unlimited holiday is contingent on staff still managing to complete their work. The firm, which temporarily closed its offices in June to combat workplace stress, said the pandemic had made it "reflect on" the ways staff worked and prompted a new policy. As well as announcing plans for unlimited paid leave, Bumble will also look to shut its office for a week twice a year. Bumble said when the firm shuts down, some customer staff across its offices in Barcelona, London, Moscow and Austin will still work in case any of the app's users experience issues. "It's becoming increasingly clear that the way that we work, and need to work, has changed and our new policies are a reflection of what really matters and how we can best support our teams in both their work and life," said Bumble president Tarek Shaukat.
PwC chair in remote work warning
Kevin Ellis, senior partner and chairman of PwC in the UK, has warned that working from home could hit young professionals' careers. He told the Mail that he believes staff need to be in the office or at a client's premises around three days a week. Pointing to the advantages of being in the office, Ellis said younger staff can learn from their seniors, make useful contacts, and fraternise with colleagues. Ellis said: “I have been very open. I am not telling people to come in. But you need to observe, to network and to socialise. That's why the office is so important.” He added that PwC is “offering the flexibility of home working but with guardrails or you will blight your career.” Ellis also warned that remote working can widen a divide between people across different levels of a company, saying: “Covid has increased the hierarchy massively. When I am working from home, no junior people ever speak to me but they do at work.”
LinkedIn reverses course on remote working
LinkedIn is to allow staff to opt for full-time remote work or a hybrid option as offices gradually reopen, the company’s Chief People Officer Teuila Hanson has told Reuters. The updated policy, offering the flexibility to work remotely full-time or work at an office part-time, will apply to LinkedIn's global workforce of more than 16,000 employees. "We anticipate that we'll definitely see more remote employees than what we saw prior to the pandemic," Hanson said, adding that some jobs would require in-office work.
2021 HR Technology Ecosystem Maps
HR technology roadmaps are being re-built urgently for the ‘new normal.’ The challenge for HR leaders is to distil choices from a frenetic $148bn HR software market without drowning in analysis. Good choices need good visibility. Forestreet, an applied AI company,  provides companies like Accenture, KPMG and Lloyds Bank with new generation tools to inform their technology analysis. The Forestreet 2021 Talent Management Tech dashboard and report is now launching as a free resource. 

Access the dashboard here

Qatar's emir ratifies electoral law
Qatar's emir has approved laws for the Gulf state's first legislative election in October, when Qataris will elect two-thirds of the advisory Shura Council. Plans for the election were first approved in a 2003 constitutional referendum. Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani will continue to appoint 15 members of the 45-seat Shura Council which, according to one of the new laws, will have legislative authority, approve general state policies and the budget, and will also exercise control over the executive, except for bodies setting defence, security, economic and investment policy. The newly-approved electoral law states that citizens aged 18 and over, and whose grandfather was born in Qatar, can vote in districts in which their tribe or family reside.
Training workshops for Bahrainis
Nawaf Muhammad Al-Jishi Group of Companies has opened applications for free training grants for Bahrainis who are seeking work in various occupational health and safety professions. Training workshops in basic and functional skills in the English language for Bahrainis who are looking to improve their chances of getting a job are to be offered by the group. “The group is working diligently to . . . serve the Bahraini community through qualitative initiatives that meet the most urgent needs of the Bahraini society, including helping Bahraini youth to obtain rewarding jobs opportunities and career advancement,” said group chairman Nawaf Al Jishi.  The initiative is called "Tomohi," notes Trade Arabia.
Qatar extends probation period for domestic workers
Qatar's Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs has announced the extension of the probation period for domestic workers from three months to nine months. According to the ministry's decision, agencies recruiting workers from abroad are bound to abide by the labour legislation, systems and policies in the country from which the labour is recruited, and to provide the domestic worker, before he [sic] is recruited, with a copy of the details and conditions of work signed by the employer.  
Kuwait's Ministry of Education freezes leave balance for staff
Kuwait's Ministry of Education is to freeze the balance of periodic leaves based on a decision issued by the Civil Service Commission (CSC), reports Al-Anba daily. The decision falls for freezing the employee's balance of the periodic leave due for the years 2020 and 2021; in the event the employee's service is terminated, he/ she will be paid a cash allowance for the frozen balance or the remainder thereof, in addition to the scheduled (cash allowance 180 days) in accordance with the text of Article 41 of the decree issued regarding the civil service system.
Google workers will need Covid shots to return to office
Google workers will need to be vaccinated before returning to the office, the US tech giant has said. The policy will begin at the company’s US campuses within weeks and then be rolled out globally for its 144,000 employees. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post that "anyone coming to work on our campuses will need to be vaccinated." How the policy is implemented "will vary according to local conditions and regulations, and will not apply until vaccines are widely available in your area," he said. In addition, Google will extend the full reopening of its global campuses from September 1st to October 18th due to an increase in cases caused by the Delta variant of coronavirus. People in special circumstances can apply to work from home until the end of 2021. However, any Google employee can apply to work from home permanently if they choose, and transfer offices. Google expects that over time in any given week, 60% of employees will work in the office for a few days each week, one-fifth will be working in new office locations and another fifth will be working from home. Google's decision to extend remote-working follows a similar move by Apple, which recently also moved its return-to-office plans from September to October.
Tunisian labour union seeks political crisis roadmap
Tunisia’s UGTT labour union says it is preparing a roadmap for steering the country out of political crisis that it would present to President Kais Saied. The UGTT, which won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for its work to negotiate through an earlier democratic crisis, has recruited economic, political and constitutional law experts who can present a solution to the crisis to the president, union officials said. Saied, who has been accused by critics of a coup for taking over governing powers, held talks with the union on Tuesday in one of his first major meetings.
Germany's top court rejects appeal in cum-ex tax evasion case
The German Federal Court of Justice, the country’s top court, has confirmed an earlier regional court ruling in a trial over so-called cum-ex tax fraud and upheld fines amounting to millions of euros against a bank and two London share traders. The court classified all such trades as illegal tax fraud. Cum-ex fraud sees traders use a legal loophole to trick governments and receive millions in tax repayments for taxes they had never paid. The Bonn district court had earlier issued a fine of around €14m ($16.5m) for one of the traders held responsible for cum-ex trades and ordered the private German bank MM Warburg to pay back around €176m. The sentence also included suspended jail time. The Federal Court confirmed that "there could be no doubt" regarding the intentions of the accused.
Unemployment rate in Spain falls to 15.3% in second quarter
Spain's joblessness rate fell in the second quarter of the year as employers hired more workers following the relaxation of COVID-19 protocols, according to data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) which showed the unemployment rate fell to 15.26% in the April-June period from 15.98% in the previous quarter.  The government expects the unemployment rate to fall to 15% at the end of 2021 and to 14% in 2022, Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said earlier this week. Around 465,000 new jobs were added in the second quarter, according to the official data.
Coles reports drop in exploitation rates
Australian supermarket group Coles has reported that the rate of work exploitation complaints in its supply chain has dropped to almost zero over the past year. A Senate inquiry is looking into temporary visa workers, many of whom work in the horticulture industry, which is a major supplier to supermarkets. Coles' Vittoria Bon told a hearing on Wednesday that an accord with three unions, a complaints hotline, an ethical sourcing policy and supplier audits had led to improvements in the treatment of workers. "In the last 12 months we've had under five (complaints)," due to factors such as more on-farm visits, regular talks with workers, and an increase in independent audits.
Canadian start-up 1Password is valued at $2bn
Canadian security and privacy tech start-up 1Password has announced a $100m fundraising round led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Accel, valuing the company at $2bn. 1Password CEO Jeff Shiner noted the increasing cybersecurity challenges faced by organisations. For example, employees using apps an employer may not know about, and the difficulty of tracking employee usernames and passwords that has led to IT employees continuing to have access to their former employers' system.

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