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European Edition
23rd September 2021
Troubled workers can raise employee anxiety levels
Research suggests that levels of anxiety, depression and stress among an organization’s employees can be raised when a troubled new worker joins the business. A study published online in the Administrative Science Quarterly finds that hiring a professional who was previously diagnosed with at least one of these ailments increases the incidence rate, or the number of co-workers at the new organization who develop similar diagnoses, by about 6.32%. The study examined 250,000 employees at 17,000 companies in Denmark between 1996 and 2015. “The paper looks at the spread of mental health disorders through an epidemiological lens,” said study co-author Julia Kensbock, an assistant professor at the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics in the Netherlands. Viewed from this perspective, she says, mental health disorders can spread from one organization to another through new hires.
Globalia to furlough 60% of staff if COVID support is ended
Air Europa owner Globalia will seek an alternative workforce support agreement with labour unions if the Spanish government does not extend its COVID furlough programme, which is due to expire at the end of this month. The Spanish tourism group will propose furloughs to around 9,000 employees across its various companies, including Be Live Hotels and handling firm Groundforce. Air travel to Spain is slowly recovering, but Globalia is still far from operating as it did before the pandemic, an industry source said.
Employees in UK will be able to request to work from home from first day
UK government ministers are set to confirm new laws to protect flexible working this week. Employees in the UK will be able to request the right to work at home from their first day on the job under the reforms. Under current rules, employees cannot request a hybrid working arrangement until six months into a job. A government source said: “The business case is compelling. If you’re happy at work you’re less likely to leave, and companies benefit from motivated employees.” However, Labour has criticised the plans as not going far enough. Deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “Labour will give workers the right to flexible working - not just the right to request it - and give all workers full rights from day one on the job. This is a U-turn from the Conservative manifesto which promised to make flexible working the default and once again the Conservatives have sold out working people.”
Remote working presents opportunities for disadvantaged areas
A new study by the ESPON research programme, which specializes in EU regional studies, suggests remote working will bring new developmental opportunities for disadvantaged areas, but also risks greater socio-economic and regional inequality.  The researchers concluded that political strategies must address the social implications of the widespread use of remote working  to combat the emergence of new forms of social and labour inequality, and seek to improve the opportunities offered by new iterations of labour.
Germany to scrap quarantine pay for unvaccinated individuals
People in Germany who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 are to no longer receive compensation for lost pay if they have to quarantine from November, health minister Jens Spahn has said. The government had been paying workers sent into quarantine for at least five days after having contact with an infected person or returning from a "high risk" area overseas. But that policy will end from November 1st, Spahn said after a meeting with the health ministers of Germany's 16 states. Getting vaccinated remained a "personal decision," Spahn said, but that decision would now "also come with the responsibility to bear the financial consequences."
Dutch employers want mandatory testing for workers coming to the office
More than 100 employers in the Netherlands want their staff to get tested for COVID-19 before coming to the office, Dutch broadcaster BNR reports after speaking with Ondernemend Nederland, employers' association AWVN, and working conditions service Capability, who all say testing is the best way to allay the concerns of vaccinated workers. "With testing you accommodate everyone, it is the most neutral system," Titus Kramer of Capability said, nevertheless observing that "There are always people who do not want to and who refuse to cooperate. There are many people who prefer to continue working from home." 
Employment in Denmark reaches all-time record high
Official data show employment in Denmark has reached an all-time record high. A total of 2.85 million people are employed in Denmark, according to Danmarks Statistik, with the latest figures for July indicating a net increase of 7,000 jobs. It is the sixth consecutive month that the employment rate has risen. “These are incredibly positive rates we are seeing in the labour market at the moment,” observed Nykredit chief economist Palle Sørensen. Peter Hummelgaard, the employment and gender equality minister, nevertheless sounded a note of caution. “Right now the wheels are moving so well that several industries are starting to lack hands, and it is important that Danish companies can get the manpower they need,” he said, adding “That is why the government has an ongoing focus on upgrading qualifications and retraining the unemployed.”
Warning of skilled labour shortages in Finland
The employment rate in Finland reached its highest level last month since the start of the pandemic – but the Technology Industries of Finland, a lobby group, warns the country faces a skilled labour shortage over the coming decade. "The indisputable fact is that, due to the ageing population and low birth rates, the working-age population will fall sharply in the coming years and there will not be enough workers in all sectors," Executive Vice President Minna Helle observed, adding "If we want to ensure economic growth, welfare services and living standards, our only option is to facilitate labour migration in many different ways — and quickly."
General counsel remain wary of ESG disclosure risk and related activism
A survey of nearly 70 general counsel and senior legal officers by the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University has found that three-quarters of respondents have faced pressure, particularly from employees, to grow their companies’ commitments to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) in the past three years, but are wary of disclosure risks and employee-driven activism that could come with such matters. Seventy-two per cent of general counsel either somewhat or significantly believed that ESG investment would improve their companies' long-term financial performance, according to the report, and although half of respondents believe CEO activism can precipitate reputational benefits for an organisation, more than a third fear it would produce reputational, legal, or regulatory harm. "It is notable that over half of the people who are responsible for balancing the risk and reward of corporate actions advocate dialing back some of these efforts and recommitting to the central strategic and profit-making purpose," the report’s authors observed.
Delta variant set to hold back global economic recovery
The fast-spreading Delta variant of COVID-19 has slowed the pace of the global economic recovery but won’t derail it, according to new forecasts released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In its latest quarterly report on the economic outlook published on Tuesday, the Paris-based research body lowered its growth forecast for the U.S. economy in 2021 to 6% from the 6.9% projected in May, and trimmed its global growth forecast to 5.7% from 5.8%. With demand for many consumer goods still strong, and many services industries yet to return to their pre-pandemic levels of output, the global economic recovery is set to continue into 2022, aided by vaccination programs. The OECD estimates that the U.S. economy will grow 3.9% next year, a faster expansion than the 3.6% increase in gross domestic product that it forecast in May. Globally, it sees economic output rising 4.5%, slightly faster than its previous projection.
Morocco plans to set up state-run utilities
Morocco aims to set up state-owned utilities in charge of water, electricity and sewage management to replace local units of French companies Veolia and Suez, an interior ministry official has said. Mustapha El Hadi of the interior ministry said employees of the utilities currently operating will join the state companies to be created.
U.N. chief takes aim at billionaires in space
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has told the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York that the three billionaires who journeyed  into space this summer have helped spread “a malady of mistrust” and underscored the gap between the rich and poor. In July, billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos flew into space on private rockets that their companies built, and billionaire Jared Isaacman led the first all-private orbital mission that splashed down Saturday after three days in orbit. Guterres invoked an image of “billionaires joyriding to space while millions go hungry on Earth” and at a time “when parents see a future for their children that looks even bleaker than the struggles of today.”

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