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30th July 2021
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Canada seeks women to bolster skilled trades
An intensifying shortage of skilled workers in Canada is encouraging policymakers to look to the hitherto largely untapped female labor pool to fill vacancies in construction and other skilled trades. But Reuters notes that attracting and retaining women in the skilled trades has long proven difficult amid challenges around balancing childcare and on-site work, ingrained sexism in some workplaces, and a lack of opportunities for women to get a foot in the door. "Every time you go to a different job and nobody knows who you are, you have to prove yourself," said Vanessa Miller, a welder. "It's still difficult to break into the industry, it's still very male dominated." Lindsay Amundsen, director of workforce development at Canada's Building Trades Unions, said: "We're doing the work to mentor tradeswomen, to build our supply of under-represented groups . . . Now we need these things legislated in large infrastructure projects. We need to put these people to work." The gap between women's and men’s respective participation in the workforce costs Canada’s economy C$100bn ($79.3bn) each year, said Carrie Freestone, an economist at RBC.
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Uber delays its return to the office
Uber is postponing its return to the office date from September to October 25th, and has told employees that the date could be further delayed. The ride-hailing company also told employees that it would require them to be vaccinated in order to work from the office. The mandate will begin with employees in the United States, and the company will assess its requirements for employees in other countries based on vaccine availability, Uber's chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, wrote in an email to staff. Unvaccinated employees will be required to work from home. “It's important to say that this date is a global target, and local circumstances will continue to dictate when it makes sense to bring employees back in a given city,” Mr. Khosrowshahi said. “Rising Covid cases in our communities are a real reminder that we still need to be cautious, look at the data, and listen to experts as we return to offices. Every day, teams across the company are closely monitoring the rapidly changing global situation.”
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.
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.
Over 40 IRS employees died of COVID
More than 40 IRS employees had died due to COVID-19 as of June, despite the agency stockpiling face masks, hand sanitizer and other protections, according to a new U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) report on the agency's response to the pandemic. In March, TIGTA undertook unannounced health and safety inspections of nine of the IRS facilities and found the service generally implemented health and safety measures to help protect individuals at the nine facilities. The inspectors reported the IRS had an adequate supply of face masks, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, or other cleaning supplies on-site, and the items were generally available in common areas or near shared equipment for employees to use. “The pandemic also threatens the lives of IRS employees; as of June 2021, the IRS reported that over 40 employees have passed away from the virus,” said the report. “As such, the IRS has had to balance the completion of its mission and the health and safety of its employees and contractors and others who visit IRS facilities.”
Apple restores mask mandate at majority of stores
Apple plans to require employees and customers to wear masks in the majority of its U.S. retail stores regardless of their vaccination status, according to a memo sent to some of its workers Wednesday. The new mask policy in more than half its U.S. stores, which goes into effect July 29th, comes after Apple reviewed new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as local health data, the company said. Apple is the first major company to announce that it will restore a mask mandate following new CDC guidance advising vaccinated people in areas with high COVID-19 transmission to wear masks indoors.
Jobless claims drop 24,000 to 400,000
New jobless claims dropped slightly to 400,000 in the seven days to July 24th, the Labor Department reported on Thursday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 385,000 new applications. The four-week moving average, which smooths out volatility in the weekly figures, edged higher to 394,500. Initial claims in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Texas saw the biggest declines last week, with five states reporting drops exceeding 5,000. California led increases, followed by Nevada and Tennessee. Continuing claims for state benefits climbed for the first time in four weeks, rising to 3.27m in the week ended July 17th. “Beyond weekly ups and downs, the trend in total filings should remain downward over coming weeks," commented Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. "Overall, job growth should pick up and labor shortages should ease as near-term constraints – virus concerns, child-care issues and enhanced unemployment benefits – diminish. But rising virus cases could be a headwind for the labor market and the economy.''
More refunds heading to those who overpaid on unemployment benefits
The IRS is sending another 1.5m refunds to people who were taxed on unemployment income last year before a portion of the benefits were made tax-free, the agency said in a statement. Refunds being sent by direct deposit are already being distributed, while paper checks will be sent from Friday. The average refund is $1,686.
Deloitte acquires cybersecurity firms Sentek and TransientX
Deloitte has announced the acquisition of two companies, Sentek Global and TransientX, as it continues efforts to bolster its secure networking and cyber remediation product offerings. A San Diego, California-based systems engineering and cybersecurity firm, Sentek serves the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense, also providing cybersecurity, program management, and integrated logistics services to undisclosed customers in “defense, security, and justice.” Complementing the Sentek deal, Deloitte’s TransientX acquisition is aimed at expanding the consultancy’s reach in a zero trust security market anticipated to be worth $59.43bn by 2028. 
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes launch diversity drive
Seven-time world champion Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton and his team Mercedes are launching a diversity drive called 'Accelerate 25' that aims to have 25% of new starters in the Mercedes team from under-represented groups. "Mercedes have long supported my ambition to improve diversity and inclusion within the motorsport industry," said Hamilton, adding "Diverse workforces are not only more successful but are also the morally correct approach for any industry . . . For 15 years, I have remained one of the few Black employees within Formula 1, and I am proud that my work with Mercedes is going to change that for the better."
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.
Tunisian labor union seeks political crisis roadmap
Tunisia’s UGTT labor 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.
U.S. firms may be made liable for climate disclosures
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says it may require publicly traded U.S. companies to report on greenhouse gas emissions by suppliers and partners. SEC chair Gary Gensler said the expected climate risk disclosure rule would likely be influenced by existing international standards but would be "appropriate" for American markets. Saying firms could be required to disclose climate-change related risks to investors in regulatory filings, Mr Gensler said making companies provide statements that are both complete and accurate would make it easier for watchdogs to investigate firms or their directors for fraud or disclosure failures.

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