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European Edition
15th September 2021
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Unvaccinated French healthcare workers face suspension from work
Healthcare workers in France could be suspended from work if they have not had the Covid vaccine by today. Covid vaccines are compulsory for healthcare and emergency workers, and the deadline to have had at least the first dose is today. From tomorrow, health workers who have not had at least one vaccine dose cannot work and will not be paid, although the French Constitutional Court has ruled that they cannot be fired. Recent data indicate that around 88% of health  workers are vaccinated. One of France's biggest public sector unions, the CGT, has warned of a "health catastrophe" if the government suspends large numbers of health workers. "We will not back down," Prime Minister Jean Castex warned last month.
Dutch employers save on remote working
Employers in the Netherlands have recorded significant cost savings as a result of last year’s remote working mandate. Travel allowances and work from home allowances were almost 10% lower than the year before, BNR reports based on an analysis of 1.1 million payslips by payroll administration company Such savings are encouraging employers to consider hybrid working scenarios, said BNR economist Han de Jong. "The employers' association AWVN says that 60% of employers want to switch to structural hybrid working. It is generally thought that people will then work from home for two days in be in the office for three days." But working from home and hybrid working are causing  growing discord in the workplace. Insurance company Interpolis has told De Telegraaf that the number of workplace disputes in the Netherlands increased by 17% last year compared to pre-pandemic 2019.  "We see many labour disputes arise about changing employment conditions, such as changing the work environment, adjusting the lease arrangement or changing rosters," Interpolis said. The insurer says employers must make clear agreements that all staff feel comfortable with. "This can prevent annoying conflicts or even the departure of an employee."

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Flexible working shift in UK could see 100k more City staff
Research by KPMG suggests the shift to flexible working in the UK will trigger a jump in the number of firms with offices in urban hubs, adding 100,000 workers to the City of London’s workforce. The report suggests a trend towards bigger offices in taller buildings is likely to be replaced by a focus on smaller offices, freeing up space for more businesses to open sites in previously expensive and crowded sites. KPMG’s chief economist Yael Selfin said: “There is quite a lot of potential to get more people in" with flexible working, saying there will be “more attractive office space freed up in larger cities, where companies have access to more staff, and easier access to supply chains and customers." KPMG predicts that the number of employees in the City will rise by more than 20% from its pre-Covid level. Office for National Statistics data for 2019 showed there were more than 540,000 employees working in the City.
German finance ministry says it backs investigation into FIU
Germany’s finance ministry has said it supports a probe by prosecutors into the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and observed that suspicion is not directed at the ministry’s employees after FIU offices were raided. “The finance ministry naturally fully supports the authorities,” the ministry said in a statement, adding “The underlying suspicion is expressly not directed against employees of the finance ministry.”
France recruits 1,800 extra staff for cyber-warfare unit
France is to bolster the country's four-year-old cyber-warfare unit amid a "growing number" of local hacking incidents. The French government had already planned to add an additional 1,100 recruits to the unit, and defence minister Florence Parly told a cybersecurity conference in the city of Lille that she would hire an extra 770 staff  to try and make France “a cybersecurity champion,” bringing the unit’s staffing level to 5,000 by 2025.
Amazon hires Twitter executive to lead on diversity
Amazon has appointed Twitter executive Candi Castleberry Singleton as vice president of global diversity, equity and inclusion. In the role, she will be charged with helping Amazon meet diversity goals it laid out in April, with the firm looking to double the number of Black leaders at the company and increase the number of women in senior tech roles by 30%. Amazon has faced at least six lawsuits this year claiming racial bias, gender bias or both filed by women who worked in corporate or warehouse management roles. Castleberry Singleton said in a company memo: "If we get this right, together we can create a greater sense of inclusion not only within Amazon, but for Amazon customers around the world."
US service members’ tax penalties in Germany weren’t ‘on my radar,’ says Blinken
A US-Germany treaty dispute that has exposed large numbers of US service members and Defense Department support staff to tax penalties in the European country was not “on my radar,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said. The tax dispute centres on the interpretation of the NATO Status of Forces Agreement, which Blinken, as head of the US State Department, oversees. In some cases, US military personnel in Germany have been penalised as much as six figures, while still having to pay their US taxes. US military personnel can expose themselves to the German tax hit if they are viewed to be in Germany for reasons beyond their military service – such as being married to a German or owning German property. However, Americans serving elsewhere, such as Italy, Spain, Britain, Japan or South Korea, face no similar financial situation.
Toyota objects to ‘exorbitant' tax breaks for the wealthy
Japanese automaker Toyota is objecting to proposed tax credits for electric vehicles (EVs) in the US, saying the plan includes “exorbitant” tax breaks for the rich. A 10-year plan is emerging in Congress to offer incentives of as much as $12,500 for people to buy EVs – on the condition that they are built by union-represented workers. Toyota is a non-unionised automaker, and purchasers of EVs from non-union shops such as Toyota, Tesla and Honda would be limited to tax breaks of about $7,500. As proposed, the credits would be available to car buyers with annual incomes as high as $400,000 for an individual, $600,000 for heads of household and $800,000 for couples. “Electric cars shouldn't just be for rich people,” the automaker said in a letter to the leaders of the proposal in the House Ways and Means Committee. “We urge you to reject using the country's limited resources to give exorbitant tax breaks to those wealthy enough to buy high-priced cars and trucks,” 11 Toyota executives from 10 US states wrote in a joint letter to the committee leaders, adding that they did not find fault with the entirety of the plan. “The proposed $7,500 tax credit for EVs makes these vehicles more accessible to Americans of modest means, and we support it,” they wrote.
Malaysian mothers win in citizenship case
A group of Malaysian mothers has won a court battle for the right to pass their nationality to children born abroad. Malaysia allows men to confer citizenship to children born overseas, but women have been denied the right because the country’s constitution refers only to the “father” conferring nationality. In their lawsuit, six mothers and campaign group Family Frontiers argued that the provision violated Article 8 of the constitution which bans gender discrimination. Campaigners say the High Court’s landmark ruling  could precipitate efforts to reform discriminatory citizenship laws in other countries. “This decision only increases the momentum for equal nationality laws around the world,” said Catherine Harrington of the Global Campaign for Equal Nationality Rights, adding “We believe other governments will be encouraged by this decision to enact these needed reforms and urge them to do so without delay.”
Britain no longer in top 10 for trade with Germany
Britain is on course to lose its status as one of Germany's top 10 trading partners this year for the first time since 1950, as Brexit-related trade barriers drive firms in Europe's largest economy to look for business elsewhere. In the first six months of this year, German imports of British goods sank nearly 11% year-on-year to €16.1bn, Federal Statistics Office data showed. While German goods exports to Britain rose 2.6% to €32.1bn, that could not prevent a decline in bilateral trade, by 2.3% to €48.2bn - pushing Britain down to 11th spot from ninth, and from fifth before it voted to leave the EU in 2016.

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