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21st February 2024
Anger isn't a catalyst for higher status in the workplace
A study by researchers at the Hebrew University (HU) of Jerusalem and Princeton University in the United States challenges the belief that employees who express anger in the workplace are thought by their bosses to be competent and hold a high status. The study, titled "Anger at Work," conducted four robust studies and found that employers and colleagues view anger as inappropriate, cold, an overreaction, and counter-instrumental for workplace goals. The research also challenges the notion that women's anger is perceived differently from men's anger in the workplace. The findings suggest that anger is not a catalyst for higher status and is regarded more poorly than other emotional expressions, and highlight that anger may not serve or promote an individual's status in the workplace, regardless of gender. “We found that anger isn't a catalyst for higher status in the workplace,” said Dr. Roni Porat, a senior lecturer at HU's political science and international relations departments who conducted the study along with Elizabeth Levy Paluck of Princeton. “Moreover, we found that anger is regarded more poorly than other emotional expressions like sadness. The only instance in which anger is considered positive is when expressed in response to another person's clear wrongdoing. These findings hold for both men and women expressing anger in the workplace.”
Antitrust regulators to sue Kroger over $25bn Albertsons takeover
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), along with a number of state attorneys general, is set to file a lawsuit to block Kroger's $24.6bn takeover of Albertsons. The lawsuit is expected to be filed next week. Kroger and Albertsons were attempting to set up a meeting with the FTC's commissioners to prevent the lawsuit. The deal affects a combined network of nearly 5,000 stores and the employment of over 700,000 workers. Consumer and union groups have opposed the deal, claiming it will hurt competition and raise prices. A new lawsuit by federal and state regulators would be the latest in a string of litigation to stop the deal, with Washington and Colorado having already filed separate lawsuits against the merger. Meanwhile, a union that represents thousands of grocery workers at Albertsons, Fred Meyer and Safeway stores in several western states has come out in support of the merger. United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555 has broken with the national UFCW organisation with its endorsement; Miles Eschaia, a spokesperson for Local 555, said the union has reasoned that Cerberus Capital Management plans to sell Albertsons stores eventually and that the proposed merger and plan to divest the stores to C&S Wholesale Grocers would be the best outcome for workers.
Too few substitutes to fill teaching workforce holes
Over the 2022-23 school year in New York City, nearly one in five public schoolteachers was absent 11 days or more, an increase from the year prior, and from before the pandemic. In Michigan meanwhile, roughly 15% of teachers were absent in any given week last school year, compared with about 10% in 2019. More recently, teacher absences forced a school in Ohio to close for a day, research has found. Notably, schools serving low-income areas are the least likely to be able to find enough substitutes. “The proof in the pudding is how many people have exhausted their leave and are asking to take days off that are unpaid. That used to be a really rare occurrence. Now it is weekly,” says Jim Fry, superintendent at College Place, a small district in southern Washington State. “Exhaustion is hitting them,” agrees Ian Roberts, superintendent of schools in Des Moines, which has recorded about 300 daily teacher absences this school year, up from about 250 last year. The pool of substitutes has also changed, educators say. Some substitutes were reluctant to return after the pandemic closures, while others took different jobs and never came back. The pay for substitutes, which averages around $20 an hour, is also less competitive in a strong economy.
U.S. workers brace for the end of 401(k) retirement plans
U.S. workers may have to bid farewell to their 401(k) retirement plans within the next decade amid a growing movement to eliminate them due to questions about their value, writes Allison Schrager for Bloomberg. The tax treatment of 401(k)s is also likely to be targeted as a new source of revenue for the government. However, the elimination of these plans raises concerns about whether Americans will continue to save for retirement. While the tax advantages of 401(k) accounts have been popular, research suggests that they do not significantly encourage more saving and tend to benefit the wealthy. As an alternative, employer-sponsored liquid accounts, similar to Roth IRAs, may become more popular. However, these accounts make it easier for people to spend their savings, potentially resulting in less money saved for retirement. The future of retirement plans in the U.S. remains uncertain, with the government needing to find new revenue sources and individuals questioning the value of these accounts.
Law firm founders face suspension for unfair curbs on departing attorneys
The founders of law firm Tully Rinckey, Matthew Tully and Gregory Rinckey, have been recommended for a 90-day suspension from practicing law by a District of Columbia professional conduct board. The board found that they violated an attorney ethics rule by imposing unfair curbs on departing attorneys and other employees. The D.C. Court of Appeals will make the final decision on whether to discipline the lawyers. The disciplinary counsel office accused Tully and Rinckey of placing improper restrictions on employees who left the firm, including prohibitions on contacting clients and working with firm alumni. The founders have denied any wrongdoing and plan to contest the findings. The case marks the first in D.C. applying a professional lawyer conduct rule concerning "Restrictions on Right to Practice."
Twenty-one more Starbucks locations file for union elections
Employees at another 21 Starbucks stores have petitioned for union elections, the most in a single day since the start of the Starbucks unionizing campaign. Workers there and at the hundreds of other Starbucks locations that are unionizing are "demanding higher wages, fair and consistent scheduling, improved benefits and a safe and dignified workplace," Starbucks Workers United said in a statement. It said the stores are located in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, North Dakota, New York, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. In all, the union says, over 400 stores have filed to unionize.
First human patient recovers after Neuralink brain-chip implant
The first human patient implanted with a brain-chip from Neuralink can now control a computer mouse using their thoughts, according to Elon Musk, the company's founder.  Musk said: "Progress is good, and the patient seems to have made a full recovery, with neural effects that we are aware of. Patient is able to move a mouse around the screen by just thinking." The start-up successfully implanted the chip in its first human patient last month, after receiving approval for human trial recruitment. The initial goal of the study is to enable people to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts. Musk has ambitious plans for Neuralink, including treating conditions like obesity, autism, depression, and schizophrenia. However, the company has faced scrutiny over its safety protocols and has been fined for violating transportation rules.
U.S. economy stronger than expected, no recession forecast for 2024
The U.S. economy is proving stronger than expected, with no recession predicted for 2024. The Conference Board's leading economic index fell by 0.4% in January, but six out of its 10 components were positive contributors over the past six months, indicating no recession ahead. However, a sharp slowdown in economic activity is projected for the second quarter. The index historically predicts recessions accurately, but the economy has shown resilience due to massive stimulus and remote work. Employment remains strong, but inflation is a concern. Housing prices and stocks remain elevated, cushioning the effects of inflation for higher-income households. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta forecasts first-quarter growth at 2.9%, and interest rate cuts will depend on the Fed's view. Experts expect the economy to slow in 2024, with three rate cuts likely starting in June.
Citigroup CEO's pay rises to $26m
Citigroup increased CEO Jane Fraser's compensation by about 6% to $26m for 2023. Her pay includes a base salary of $1.5m, a cash bonus of $3.7m, and $20.8m in deferred performance-linked stock. Ms Fraser's compensation was determined by her execution of significant changes to the organisational and management model, as well as the sale of international businesses. Comparatively, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon's compensation climbed 4.3%, Morgan Stanley's former CEO James Gorman received a 17% hike, and Goldman Sachs' CEO saw an increase of 24%.
French automotive supplier Forvia to cut 10,000 jobs in Europe
French automotive supplier Forvia is to shed as many as 10,000 jobs in Europe over the next five years as the Paris-listed firm becomes the latest industry player to be hit by falling demand and China's dominance. Some of the jobs will go through attrition, it said on Monday. Forvia, the world's seventh-largest automotive supplier, makes parts for companies including Stellantis, Volkswagen and Ford, and also sells in China.  "Forvia faces concerns from investors due to its strong exposure to a declining European market, accounting for 46% of its total revenue, along with mentions of manufacturing overcapacity in Europe and a changing client base as Chinese EV makers expand in Europe," said analyst Adrien Brasey from Alphavalue. The company said it planned to cut 13% of its European workforce, much of it through attrition. "Our attrition rate is 2,000 to 2,500 people a year. So, in fact, the plan does not mean making 10,000 people redundant," Forvia finance chief Olivier Durand said, adding it would limit hiring to roles deemed strictly necessary.
Multinational companies in Saudi Arabia to enjoy 30-year tax exemption
Saudi Arabia has introduced a tax incentive initiative to attract foreign companies and encourage them to establish their regional hubs in the Kingdom. Under the initiative, multinational companies relocating their regional headquarters to Saudi Arabia will enjoy a 30-year exemption from income tax. Over 200 international firms have become eligible to procure government contracts in Saudi Arabia by opening regional headquarters in Riyadh. These eligible firms can take advantage of a 0% income tax rate for corporate entities and withholding taxes for a period of 30 years. The tax regulations also provide relaxed Saudization requirements and streamlined work permit provisions for the spouses of executives stationed at these regional headquarters. The tax incentives are granted to regional headquarters that meet the qualification criteria set forth by the Ministry of Investment. Failure to meet the economic requirements may result in penalties or the suspension/cancellation of tax incentives. Saudi Arabia's efforts to attract foreign investment and establish itself as a regional business hub have led to several international firms relocating their headquarters to Riyadh. FDI inflows in the first 9 months of 2023 reached SR52.9bn.
Santander achieves equal pay for equal work ahead of target
Spain's biggest lender, Banco Santander, has announced its plan to achieve equal pay for employees globally who do the same job. While the gender pay gap for the same work has been eliminated, the overall pay gap remains at around 30%. The bank aims to equalize pay by 2025, but has already achieved close to zero gender pay gap, including bonuses. However, the overall pay gap, which does not consider job category, stands at 27.8%. The bank attributes this to a higher number of men in leadership roles. Santander also aims to have women in at least 35% of senior executive roles by 2025. At the end of 2023, women held 31.4% of these positions.

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