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30th July 2021
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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 Austin, Barcelona, London and Moscow will still work in case any of the app's users experience issues. BBC News notes that the coronavirus crisis has seen a number of firms reflect on working practices, with PwC telling staff they will be able to work from home a couple of days a week and start as early or late as they want; Nationwide saying staff can choose whether to work at home or in the office; and BP telling office staff they can spend two days a week working from home. Several banks are also examining hybrid home-office arrangements.
Google workers will need Covid shots to return to the office
Google workers will need to be vaccinated before returning to the office, the US tech giant has said. The policy will begin at the company’s US campuses within weeks and then be rolled out globally for its 144,000 employees. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post that "anyone coming to work on our campuses will need to be vaccinated." How the policy is implemented "will vary according to local conditions and regulations, and will not apply until vaccines are widely available in your area," he said. In addition, Google will extend the full reopening of its global campuses from September 1st to October 18th due to an increase in cases caused by the Delta variant of coronavirus. People in special circumstances can apply to work from home until the end of 2021. However, any Google employee can apply to work from home permanently if they choose, and transfer offices. Google expects that over time in any given week, 60% of employees will work in the office for a few days each week, one-fifth will be working in new office locations and another fifth will be working from home. Google's decision to extend remote-working follows a similar move by Apple, which recently also moved its return-to-office plans from September to October.
2021 HR Technology Ecosystem Maps
HR technology roadmaps are being re-built urgently for the ‘new normal.’ The challenge for HR leaders is to distil choices from a frenetic $148bn HR software market without drowning in analysis. Good choices need good visibility. Forestreet, an applied AI company,  provides companies like Accenture, KPMG and Lloyds Bank with new generation tools to inform their technology analysis. The Forestreet 2021 Talent Management Tech dashboard and report is now launching as a free resource.

Access the dashboard here

TUC hits out over umbrella companies and agency workers
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has urged ministers to ban the use of umbrella companies to employ agency workers, amid concern over some such entities being linked to the abuse of workers and fraud. TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: “These scandalous workplace practices have no place in modern Britain. But our inadequate regulations let dodgy umbrella companies off the hook – allowing them to act with impunity.” She added that employers “shouldn’t be able to wash their hands of any responsibility by farming out their duties to a long line of intermediaries.” Research from the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group suggests that as many as half of all agency workers are employed through umbrella companies – firms that sit between workers and recruitment agencies and which supply staff to the companies who need labour.
Driver shortage threatens milk supplies
Arla Foods UK, the largest milk processor in the UK, warns that milk supplies are under threat from a growing shortage of delivery drivers. Brexit-related issues have been compounded by the pandemic, with thousands of UK drivers told to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace app. Arla Foods UK managing director Ash Amirahmadi said this means 600 of the 2,4000 stores the company routinely supplies have missed out on shipments. He said: "Since around mid-April we have been experiencing driver shortages, particularly in southern England. It's progressively got worse and our assessment is that the food industry is now in a driver shortage crisis." National Farmers' Union dairy board chairman Michael Oakes added: "We are getting drivers that don't normally do the job and that is due to the high demand.'' There are up to 100,000 unfilled driver vacancies, but the government has so far refused to add driving to the list of "shortage" occupations or designate it a skilled profession, which would allow drivers from the EU to work in the UK.
MPs call for new approach to reduce disability employment gap
MPs have said that a radical overhaul is needed to tackle the “unacceptable” employment barriers facing people with disabilities. A new, ambitious target is needed to reduce the disability employment gap, according to the Work and Pensions Committee, with ministers urged to re-adopt a previous target of halving the 30% gap - which the MPs said has only closed by 5% since 2013.
Fewest furloughed staff since pandemic began
The number of people on furlough in the UK has fallen sharply. HMRC data show that 1.9m people were still on the scheme at the end of June, meaning 590,000 people were removed from furlough over the month. This is the lowest level since the start of the pandemic and half a million fewer than in May. The Treasury said younger people have come off furlough twice as fast as other workers in the last three months, with almost 600,000 under-25s leaving the scheme in the quarter. Tony Wilson, director of the Institute of Employment Studies, says the number of people on furlough has been "dropping like a stone" as the economy reopened, adding that fears of a "rush of redundancies" have been unfounded. Tom Waters, senior research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, believes the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) “has had a very significant impact on job retention.” At the initiative’s peak in May 2020, almost 9m people were on furlough, and since its launch, the CJRS has supported 11.6m jobs in total. Since the start of July, employers have been asked to contribute 10% towards the wages of furloughed workers; this will rise to 20% in August and September.
Nearly half of Poles consider changing their employer
Almost half (49%) of Polish workers have considered changing their employer in the last year, according to a study by Warsaw headquartered employment agency ADP Polska. The comparable European average is 44%. Just over a quarter (26%) of respondents say that they intend to stay in their current company over the next 2-5 years. “Record-low unemployment makes jobseekers choose companies where they have a better chance for development, as well as a higher salary. However, there are trends among employees around the world related to a lack of attachment to their current workplace. Interestingly, according to data from Deloitte, young people more and more often want to develop their careers, but not at the expense of family or friendship. For this reason, HR departments, in order to retain young talents, must look for the ‘golden mean’ between the possibilities of competency development and the balance between career and private life,” Anna Barbachowska, HR Business Partner at ADP Polska, said.
Claims that Leicester's textile industry still exploits workers
Sky News reports that workers are still being exploited in Leicester's textile industry. The anti-slavery charity Hope of Justice says the audit and enforcement approach to clamping down on workforce exploitation is not working "because factory bosses are getting really creative and innovative" in how they hide it.
Asos appoints lawyers to investigate harassment claims
Online fashion retailer Asos has appointed external law firm Lewis Silkin to investigate allegations of sexual harassment, in response to anonymous posts published on Instagram accusing the company of being a "boys' club." The allegations, posted in the spring, claimed that inappropriate behaviour had occurred, while the Telegraph also understands that the company received a number of complaints from men and women with regard to inappropriate behaviour at both the firm's head office and customer service centre, including allegations of sexual harassment, racism, bullying and homophobia. A spokesperson for the retailer said that Asos takes any concerns raised by staff "extremely seriously," adding: "As soon as we became aware of the allegations about us and other brands - we launched an internal review, supported by legal experts."
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.
Council workers urged to reject pay offer
The Unison, Unite and GMB unions have urged local government workers to reject a 1.75% pay offer. They said council and school staff deserve a bigger pay rise after working though the pandemic. The unions said the offer falls well short of the 10% claim they put forward for.
Canadian start-up 1Password is valued at $2bn
Canadian security and privacy tech start-up 1Password has announced a $100m fundraising round led by Silicon Valley venture capital firm Accel, valuing the company at $2bn. 1Password CEO Jeff Shiner noted the increasing cybersecurity challenges faced by organizations. For example, employees using apps an employer may not know about, and the difficulty of tracking employee usernames and passwords that has led to IT employees continuing to have access to their former employers' system.
Lebanese seek security and salaries in UAE
Reuters reports on how Lebanese citizens who are fleeing a collapse in their home country are seeking security and better salaries in the UAE, which is boosting its efforts to attract and retain skilled workers as competition for talent heats up in the Gulf region. The UAE, where visas for non-citizens are typically tied to employment, is offering some skilled professionals new long-term 5- or 10-year renewable residency visas and the potential for eventual citizenship.
Boohoo ends partnership with US rapper DaBaby
Online fashion retailer Boohoo has ended its partnership with rapper DaBaby, after he made homophobic comments onstage at a Florida music festival. "Diversity and inclusion are part of the Boohoo Group's DNA and we pride ourselves on representing the diverse customers we serve across the globe," the UK based company said in a statement. "We stand by and support the LGBTQ+ community, and do not tolerate any hate speech or discrimination in any form."

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