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European Edition
24th September 2021
EU Commission is blocking hiring of staff, says agency
The European Union's new fraud-fighting agency says the European Commission has prevented it from accessing €7m to hire specialised staff. The Luxembourg Times notes that the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) has already been hit by delays prior to the commencement of operations in June, as it could not start work until at least one delegated prosecutor from each participating member had been appointed. EPPO originally requested a €55.5m budget for this year, but the European Commission did not agree to that amount, instead allocating almost €38m and thereafter refusing to release an additional €7.3m in funding approved by the European Parliament and the European Council  for the hiring of “specialised staff” such as financial investigators, according to EUobserver. “We were very happy with the additional €7.3 million we received after long negotiations. However, we have not been allowed to use that additional money to hire specialised staff for our central office, i.e. financial investigators, case analysts, clerks, legal experts etc,” said EPPO spokeswoman Tine Hollevoet.
Uber to backdate pensions for UK drivers
Uber is to pay out millions of pounds in missed pension payments to UK drivers dating back as far as 2017 under a deal with the country's retirement savings watchdog. Uber added that its private hire drivers would now be auto-enrolled on to a scheme through which it would contribute 3% of earnings into a pension pot. Drivers can choose to contribute up to 5% of qualifying earnings but will be able to opt out. Uber has been forced to pay pensions and offer other benefits such as holiday entitlement to drivers after the Supreme Court ruled in February that they should be classified as workers, not contractors. The judgment is thought likely to set a precedent for similar platforms. Mick Rix, national officer of the GMB labour union, which agreed a recognition deal with Uber in May, said: “Uber’s pension scheme is a massive step in the right direction and will no doubt help thousands of drivers as they reach retirement age. GMB urges other platform-based operators to follow Uber’s lead.”
Credit Suisse poaches Deutsche banker
Deutsche Bank’s Israel Fernandez has been snapped up by Credit Suisse to lead its financial institutions group (FIG) in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Responsibilities will be shared with Julien Lamm, according to a memo seen by Reuters, which notes that the new leadership structure comes as Switzerland’s second-largest lender seeks to fill key investment banking roles left vacant by a talent exodus earlier this year following a series of scandals that have badly damaged employee morale.
EY announces almost 1,000 new jobs for Irish cities
EY has announced plans to create 816 new jobs across five counties in Ireland. This announcement will bring the headcount for EY to over 4,200 across the island of Ireland. 606 of the roles will be Dublin-based, while the remaining 210 roles will be located in Cork, Galway, Belfast, Limerick and Waterford. Commenting on the move, Frank O’Keeffe, Managing Partner, EY Ireland, said: “Our plans […] reflect the continuing strong growth of EY across the island of Ireland and the evolution we’re seeing amongst our client base. The fundamental changes brought about by the pandemic, coupled with wider macroeconomic headwinds and shifting business models, have created increased demand for our services as we help our clients tackle their most complex business challenges.”
Ukraine proposes mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for some jobs
Ukraine’s health minister says compulsory coronavirus vaccinations are being planned for some jobs including teachers and employees of state institutions and local governments. Oleh Lyashko said: "We propose to start the introduction of mandatory preventive vaccinations against acute respiratory disease COVID-19." Only 5.2 million of Ukraine’s 41 million people have received two shots so far.
UK employers grapple with vaccine policies
A survey of 500 senior executives by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills has found that 70% are worried about the potential risks of discrimination against staff on the basis of vaccination status.
MBA gender pay gap halves to 20%
A survey of students from the world’s highest ranked business school programmes found the gender pay gap among MBA graduates has almost halved in the past four years, but men still earn 20% more on average.
German defence ministry probes employee over suspected far-right links
A spokesperson for Germany's defence ministry says an employee is being investigated over suspected far-right links. "We are talking about a suspected case of far-right extremism. The person is a civilian employee," the spokesperson said. A report in Spiegel magazine had said the employee had access to sensitive information and oversaw special forces operations. "There is no space for extremism in the Bundeswehr. We have made this clear time and again, and we will continue to crack down rigorously on any such activities," the ministry said on Twitter.
Unilever faces backlash over Ben & Jerry’s Israel boycott row
American pension funds have threatened to sell their stakes in Unilever because of the decision of its Ben & Jerry’s brand to stop selling ice cream in Israeli-occupied territories. The brand, which has become known for its corporate activism, said in July that it would end its licence in the Israel-occupied West Bank. The brand said then that “we believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the occupied Palestinian territory”. However, New Jersey’s $92.7bn pension fund has written to Alan Jope, the group’s chief executive, to say that it is enforcing a state law that orders the pension fund to act against companies imposing economic boycotts in Israel or in Israel-controlled territory. 
Many professionals say hybrid working model needs improvement
A poll of 2,000 professionals by recruitment firm Robert Walters indicates that more than half (55%) of respondents think that their current hybrid working arrangements don’t go far enough to help engender an effective work-life balance. Some said under-tested hybrid working models had precipitated more intense working days, for example with attendance required at both face-to-face and virtual meetings, leaving them feeling overworked and exhausted. Meanwhile, a great majority of respondents (85%) said they now expect more flexibility to work from home as a standard offer from employers, and 78% said they will not take on a new job until such flexibility is agreed with a prospective employer. Jason Grundy, MD, Robert Walters Middle East & Africa, observes: “Whilst the switch to remote working was almost instant, we need to appreciate that was out of necessity. The return to work should be gradual employers and employees alike should use this year to test a variety of working styles from hybrid working to potentially removing the 9-5 in favour of hours based on project load.”
Google to train Turkish youth
Google aims to boost the tech careers of 2,000 young people in Turkey, Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank said Wednesday. An academy to train young people interested in developing mobile games and applications was launched through the cooperation of Google Turkey, Turkey Entrepreneurship Foundation and the T3 Enterprise Center, with the support of the Industry and Technology Ministry and the Presidential Digital Transformation Office.
iPhone features aim to help detect depression and cognitive decline
Apple researchers are developing technology to help diagnose depression and cognitive decline. Sensor data around mobility, physical activity, sleep patterns, typing behavior and more could help identify digital signals associated with the target conditions so that algorithms can be created to detect them reliably. Apple has announced research collaborations with the University of California, Los Angeles, to study stress, anxiety and depression, and pharmaceutical company Biogen to study mild cognitive impairment.
Canada's fossil fuel workers want Trudeau to keep retraining pledge
Workers in Canada’s fossil fuel sector say they expect re-elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau  to keep his promises to retrain them for roles in a clean-energy economy as the country restates its commitment to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Canada will need around C$10bn ($7.8bn) over 10 years to retrain fossil fuel workers, according to oil worker advocacy group Iron & Earth. Luisa Da Silva, executive director of Iron & Earth, said Canada could lose the skilled talent that will be critical to a clean energy economy if the government does not prioritise transition funding, which the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement identified as important to ensure no workers are left behind as the world decarbonises. He is sceptical about government action after past pledges failed to materialise. "At what point do these stop being promises and start being actions? These are people's livelihoods on the line," said Da Silva.
China’s legal system must change to protect sexual harassment survivors
Lijia Zhang, a former rocket factory worker who is now a  social commentator and novelist, writes for the South China Morning Post about the societal prejudice and legal barriers in China that have silenced survivors of sexual harassment. A 2018 study conducted by the Beijing Yuanzhong Gender Development Centre indicated that of the more than 50 million lawsuits filed from 2010 to 2017, only 34 of them involved sexual harassment. Of the 34 cases, only two were brought by victims suing their abusers, and both were unsuccessful. The author says the legal system tends to favour the defendant in civil litigation and courts should place more weight on testimony and reconsider the ‘high degree of likelihood’ standard, which is challenging compared to other parts of the world.
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