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Bloomberg reports that U.S. workers are required to repay thousands, or even tens of thousands, in training costs if they leave too soon. Agreements whereby employees who quit had to repay training costs were once unheard of because employers believed it was their responsibility to pay for training. Jonathan Harris, an associate law professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles who has studied clawback deals, says they emerged in the 1990s in the finance sector, where employees might have to repay as much as $75,000 for a premature departure. They are now to be found in professions such as nursing and trucking. “In the last 5 to 10 years, they’ve really taken off,” Harris says. In 2020 the Cornell National Social Survey found that almost one in 10 American workers had signed one. Attorneys who advise companies say the agreements are almost indispensable in the current red hot labor market. “I’m seeing employers enter into these agreements, saying, ‘I’m not about to put out of pocket the amount of money that it takes to get this person sufficiently trained in order for them to just go take that over to a competitor,’” observes Angie Davis, chair of the labor and employment group at the law firm Baker Donelson in Memphis. “This is just a way for companies to protect themselves.”Full Issue
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) believes the UK’s hiring boom will soon reach its peak. The institute’s latest quarterly Labour Market Outlook says the labour market remains “incredibly tight,” with many firms raising wages and offering applicants more flexible options. Private sector pay expectations have hit a record high of 4%, while the median across all sectors stands at 3%. The survey of 2,000 senior HR staff found that 72% expect to recruit in the next three months, while 13% expect to make redundancies. Jonathan Boys, the CIPD’s labour market economist, said: “We’re seeing some of the highest pay awards in recent history as employers strive to attract and retain staff. However, strong pay growth can’t last forever.”Full Issue
Mental health services in U.S. schools were on the rise prior to the pandemic with more than half offering diagnostic assessments, according to a recent analysis. An analysis of the latest available federal data by the Pew Research Center found 55% of schools nationwide during the 2019-2020 school year provided assessments evaluating students for potential mental health conditions, a 4% increase from the previous school year. Services rendered varied both by geography and grade level, according to the data. Around two-thirds of middle schools and high schools offered mental health assessments, compared to just half of elementary schools. Further, more than 60% of schools in cities provide mental health assessments for their students, while 45% of rural schools did the same. Schools surveyed also detailed barriers preventing them from supplying their students with mental health services. More than half said they were limited in a major way by funding, while around 40% said services were cut short due to a lack of access to licensed professionals. A separate report released last week suggests around 1.5m U.S. children experienced depression or anxiety during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic alone. The 2022 KIDS COUNT Data Book, an annual report released Monday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, found a 26% jump in the number of children aged three to 17 struggling with the two conditions between 2016 and 2020.Full Issue
House Democrats are expected to today approve the Inflation Reduction Act, a sweeping package to lower health-care costs, combat climate change, raise taxes on some large companies and reduce the deficit, sending the proposal to the Oval Office for President Joe Biden's signature. With debate set to begin in the morning, and a vote on passage likely later in the afternoon, the chamber is on track to deliver for Democrats a major legislative victory. The package will be funded through changes to tax laws, including a new 15% minimum tax on some billion-dollar corporations that currently pay nothing to the federal government. They also seek taxes on companies that buy back their own stock, and money to help the IRS fight against tax evasion. Initial analyses of the legislation found that it could reduce the nation’s deficit by as much as $300bn over a decade.Full Issue
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is examining whether vulnerable fraud victims are being wrongly denied refunds and has warned of “consequences” for banks that have failed to treat victims fairly. Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: “Where the [customer’s] vulnerability is of a kind that affects the person’s ability to make a decision in their own interests they should be reimbursed. If the banks are getting it wrong more often than they are getting it right, there will be consequences with the FCA.” Three in four fraud victims are wrongly denied refunds, according to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Industry figures show that fewer than one in two fraud victims receive compensation from their bank, while just £271m of the £583m lost to scams last year was returned. Consumer finance campaigner Mark Taber described the treatment of the victims by their banks as “inhumane,” adding that “scammers target vulnerable people with savings and they keep going until they have everything . . . Banks have a duty to stop this happening, but they are failing to do it,” he warned.Full Issue
Legal Matters Scotland
The Period Products Act, which requires local authorities and education providers to make free sanitary products available to those who need them, comes into force today. Scottish Labour's Monica Lennon, who proposed the legislation before it won the unanimous backing of MSPs in 2020, commented: "Local authorities and partner organisations have worked hard to make the legal right to access free period products a reality. I'm grateful to them and the thousands of people who have got involved across the country." Scotland will become the first country in the world to protect the right to free period products when the act comes into force. Social justice secretary Shona Robison underlined the importance of the legislation in the face of the cost-of-living crisis, and expressed her gratitude for the young women and girls who she said had been “crucial” in developing the law change.Full Issue