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8th February 2023
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McDonald's pledges to better protect workers in the UK
McDonald's has signed a legally binding agreement with the UK's Equalities and Human Rights Commission which requires the company to deal with what is thought to be more than 1,000 complaints from staff about workplace behaviour. The UK’s Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU)  has previously raised the alarm over a “toxic culture” in McDonald’s restaurants. Ian Hodson, national president of the BFAWU, said: “It’s shameful that one of the richest corporations on the planet doesn’t take sexual harassment seriously until we raise it . . . I pay tribute to all our members who have spoken out on this issue and encourage McDonald’s to work with us in ending sexual harassment.” The agreement commits the group to a number of measures to better protect workers in the UK, including communicating a “zero tolerance” approach to sexual harassment, providing anti-harassment training for employees, and improving policies to better respond to complaints. Alistair Macrow, chief executive of McDonald’s in the UK and Ireland, said the company already has a “strong track record” in this area but wants to further improve it. He added: “As one of the UK’s leading employers, the safety and wellbeing of our people is our absolute priority. It is hugely important to me that everyone in our organisation feels safe, respected and included at all times – this is core to the values of our business.”
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Cautious employers turn to temporary staff
Fears of an economic downturn discouraged companies from hiring workers into permanent positions at the beginning of the year, the latest jobs report from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG shows. Permanent placements fell for a fourth consecutive month but the pace of decline slowed. Temporary hires rose at their fastest rate since September. The survey also found that the number of vacancies for permanent and temporary jobs continued to grow in January. Neil Carberry, chief executive of the trade body, said that the growth reflected activity that may have been delayed from the autumn, but it was also a sign of firms “feeling confident to hire, even if they are leaning more to temporary hiring than normal in this uncertain environment.” Claire Warnes, partner for skills and productivity at KPMG UK, said: “January saw permanent vacancies rise at a quicker pace for the first time in nine months, with the rate of demand growth the strongest since last October, giving recruiters, employers and job hunters a reason to be cautiously optimistic for the year ahead.”
Crown courts hit by shortage of judges
The lord chief justice has revealed that crown courts are losing more than 3,000 days every year on average because of a lack of judges. Lord Burnett of Maldon said there was a shortfall of 16 judges for the crown courts following the last round of recruitment, and by the end of last year, the crown courts had a backlog of 63,000 cases. Burnett said that crown court judges sit on average 200 days each, translating to 3,200 court days a year when criminal cases could be heard but are not. Burnett admitted that a deterioration in working conditions had significantly deterred lawyers from applying to join the bench, and said that for the first time, officials were taking advantage of a statutory provision that allows district judges from the magistrates’ court to try cases in the senior criminal courts. The lord chief justice said that another recruitment drive was continuing. “It is obviously not possible for me to predict precisely how that will turn out, but I hope that it will do better than last year,” he said.
Civil servants set to strike on Budget day
Roughly 100,000 civil servants are set to strike on the day the Chancellor unveils the Spring Budget, the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has said. Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS, said members would walk out on 15 March as part of an ongoing row with the government over pay and conditions. PCS members were "suffering a completely unacceptable decline in their pay,” Serwotka explained. The government has previously offered civil servants a 2% to 3% pay rise, but union bosses have been calling for a rise of 10%.
Gender pay gap reporting from Scottish public bodies improves slightly
The latest study of gender pay gap reporting by public bodies from Audit Scotland has found only “marginal” improvements. Listed public bodies north of the border must publish information every two years on the percentage difference, among all their employees, between men's and women’s average hourly pay (excluding overtime in both cases). “Our analysis suggests that not all public bodies are clear about how they should calculate and present gender pay gap data,” the report said. “We found inconsistencies in the gender pay gap information provided. Legislation states that information should be published in a way that is accessible to the public, but we found that it was sometimes difficult to locate. There was often a lack of detailed analysis or sufficient breakdown of data, making effective action planning to reduce the gender pay gap more difficult.”
LGBTQ+ founders hide identity
A report by Proud Ventures, a network of LGBTQ+ venture capitalists and angel investors, suggests 75% of LGBTQ+ business founders and nearly 80% of investors withhold their identity from their peers in the ecosystem. Only a third of investors said they included LGBTQ+ founders when acting to support ‘diverse’ founders. Edward Kandel, investor at Founders Factory and a founding member of Proud Ventures, said: “Recent research has shown us that concealment is a real tax on LGBTQ+ people. Academic studies have found increased concealment comes at a cost to an individual’s wellbeing with a greater risk of depression, anxiety, and poorer cognitive and physical health. We need to change the script and create an open and welcoming ecosystem where people should not have to hide who they are.”
Zoom cuts 1,300 jobs as demand slows
Video conferencing company Zoom is laying off 1,300 staff as the pandemic-driven boom in online meetings slows. The layoffs will hit nearly 15% of its workforce. CEO Eric Yuan said: "We worked tirelessly . . . but we also made mistakes. We didn't take as much time as we should have to thoroughly analyse our teams or assess if we were growing sustainably, toward the highest priorities.” Mr Yuan said he would also reduce his salary in the coming fiscal year by 98% and forego his bonus. Other members of the executive leadership team will see their base salaries fall by 20% and lose bonuses, he added.
Boeing to axe 2,000 finance and HR jobs
Boeing plans to cut about 2,000 jobs in finance and human resources this year, as it focuses on engineering and manufacturing. The move comes as the company puts more of its resources into "products, services and technology development." It will outsource some of the roles to Tata Consulting Services, a unit of one of India's largest conglomerates.  "We have and will continue to communicate transparently with our teams that we expect lower staffing within some corporate support functions," the company told the BBC. "As always, we will support affected teammates and provide assistance and resources to support their transition," it added.
Cyberattack seriously damages engineering group
FTSE 250 engineering group Morgan Advanced Materials has said a cyberattack last month would weaken profits and increase its costs. The Berkshire-based company said the disruption would reduce adjusted operating profit by between 10% and 15%, and that some of its manufacturing sites continued to use manual processes. The company has also been forced to delay publication of its results for last year, with the company’s auditors, PwC, prevented from gaining access to all the necessary systems following the attack.
Political turmoil 'has harmed the UK's reputation for stability'
The boss of insurance giant Lloyd's of London has said the UK's reputation for financial stability has been dented by a year of political turmoil. John Neal said confidence in the UK had been hit by a high turnover of prime ministers and a mini-budget which saw the pound drop and mortgage rates soar. He said the UK should not take its position as a global financial centre for granted. "We're at an important moment. We've really got to re-prove our value proposition, I think there's a responsibility on government and us in business to get it right,” Neal said.
US bosses are reasserting their authority
The Wall Street Journal reports that chief executive officers are reasserting their authority as workers worry about job security amid rising layoffs. Bosses who enjoyed less leverage in the recent tight labour market are now saying they have more power in negotiations with staff. Some are enforcing in-office attendance mandates that had previously been ignored by some employees. Christian Ulbrich, CEO of real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle, observes: “This whole concept of working from anywhere went too far . . . I’m all into flexibility and all supportive that work and life has to find a flexible kind of partnership . . . but that doesn’t translate into, ‘Mondays and Fridays, I always work from home.’ ” He added: “I think the recent trends, the layoffs, will help to bring a little bit of balance into that.”
Britons face £20,000 cap under Bank of England digital currency plan
The Bank of England and Treasury have opened a four-month consultation process and will then push ahead with designs for a potential central bank digital currency (CBDC). Sir Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor of the Bank of England, said that a limit will initially be set, if the digital currency gets the go-ahead, to manage risks but ensure it is accessible. “We propose a limit of between £10,000 and £20,000 per individual as the appropriate balance between managing risks and supporting wide usability of the digital pound,” he said. Sir Jon also said that the potential digital currency could “complement existing financial inclusion initiatives” such as helping people make payments offline or improve cross-border payments.

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