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22nd November 2022
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Watching the World Cup in the work-from-home era
This is the first World Cup tournament of the remote-working era, and BBC News reports that many employers are opting for an easy way to deal with the games that happen in office hours: let staff work from home that day. A survey by polling company Opinium found that nearly half of working fans will be allowed to watch the game during office hours. Just over a quarter of fans said that their employer will show the matches live, while one in five will allow them to watch the football elsewhere. Some companies will use the event as an opportunity to have some fun in the office, and bond with colleagues and clients. But some 9% of workers told pollsters YouGov that they intend to watch the game when they should be working, without their employer's knowledge - which could leave them at risk of disciplinary action. Meanwhile, the hosts' treatment of migrant workers who built the stadiums and other infrastructure for the event, and Qatar's intolerance of its LGBT citizens, has encouraged some businesses to boycott the World Cup altogether.
NEW DATA: What organisations are doing to support employees during sustained uncertainty and challenge

It’s a lot isn’t it?  This period where uncertainty has become normalised and the economic outlook continues to be bleak. For HR and line managers, it’s tough to maintain engagement, productivity and performance with the current cost pressures when our resources need to do ever more.

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PM wants more skilled foreign labour
Rishi Sunak told the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) annual conference on Monday that attracting more highly skilled workers to Britain would boost the economy and help turn the UK into “a beacon for the world’s best and brightest.” The Prime Minister made the remarks after CBI director-general Tony Danker called for the government to loosen immigration rules because businesses were being restricted by a lack of suitable workers. Meanwhile, in his own address to the CBI on Tuesday, Labour leader Keir Starmer is to tell the conference that the days of “low pay and cheap labour” must end. He is expected to vow to be “pragmatic” about the shortage of workers and not ignore the need for skilled migrants, but stress that any changes to the points-based migration system “will come with new conditions for business. We will expect you to bring forward a clear plan for higher skills and more training, for better pay and conditions, for investment in new technology.” The Telegraph reports that the Prime Minister also pledged to "radically innovate" Britain's health service during the CBI conference on Monday. Rishi Sunak said new technologies such as robotics and automation would challenge "conventional wisdom” in healthcare reform.
BoE puts move to Leeds on hold
Plans to relocate hundreds of Bank of England staff to Leeds have been delayed by at least a year as Threadneedle Street scales back its ambition to increase its presence across the UK. The Bank of England announced plans to move staff out of London last April with the creation of a new northern hub in Leeds. But, despite shelving a proposal to acquire up to 100,000 sq ft of office space and freezing recruitment plans, the Bank insisted that its Leeds ambitions had not been scrapped. “We are revisiting our plan and timetable but our presence in Leeds will continue to expand, and our intention to create a Northern Hub there remains,” a Bank spokesman said.
Newport chip plant workers fear for jobs after takeover blocked
Workers at Newport Wafer Fab have accused the Business Secretary of putting 600 jobs at risk by blocking a Chinese-backed takeover of the factory. Dutch chipmaker Nexperia, which is controlled by China’s Wingtech, will be forced to unwind its £63m takeover of the Welsh semiconductor plant on national security grounds following a long-delayed final ruling from Grant Shapps. Mr Shapps has so far refused to provide details on the substance of the national security concerns. Staff at the Newport plant called the takeover ban a “deeply political decision” and a “betrayal of our team,” adding “No international company in its right mind would ever invest in the UK after this.”
Chinese owners of British Steel renege on investment pledge
The Chinese company that acquired British Steel almost three years ago has invested only a fraction of what it promised when it acquired the business in a government-backed takeover in March 2020. Jingye has pumped in just £156m of the £1.2bn it pledged to invest. Now, Jingye is threatening to close one of the plant’s two blast furnaces and make 2,000 people at the British Steel works redundant unless it is given state aid totalling hundreds of millions of pounds. Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith has called for such strategic industrial assets to be better protected from unreliable partners such as China.
Compass is helping staff in financial hardship
Contract caterer Compass, which employs 50,000 people in Britain and Ireland, has launched a salary advance scheme and a new grant for UK employees facing financial hardship amid soaring inflation and a worsening cost-of-living crisis. An advance option gives monthly salaried employees the opportunity to withdraw up to 50% of their earned pay before payday. Those employees can make up to three withdrawals per pay cycle in addition to their normal pay, the company added. Compass has also launched a ‘Helping Hands’ fund and provides debt consolidation at a lower cost of interest than employees would otherwise face on the market. In the United States, the caterer’s ‘same day pay’ initiative is reportedly used by around 15,000 employees.
UK lawyers will be able to work visa-free in Switzerland for 90 days
Britain's International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch has confirmed that UK lawyers will be able to work visa-free in Switzerland for 90 days after she secured a deal allowing professionals to travel more easily for business. The two countries will now launch negotiations next year on a new free trade agreement. Ms Badenoch said: "Today's agreement is a win-win for both sides. From financial services in Edinburgh to cyber security in Wales, it ensures businesses capitalise on the huge opportunities on offer.” Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the Confederation of British Industry, said: “Business will hope this injects crucial momentum as the UK and Switzerland prepare to negotiate an enhanced free trade agreement.” The Swiss export market for services is worth over £12bn, with accountancy, architectural and legal services around half of this.
Volume of office space in use shrinks
The City of London witnessed the second-greatest decrease in office usage in the year ending March 2022, with accountancy giants Deloitte and BDO among those opting not to renew leases on prime real estate in the capital. About 1.8m square metres of workspace was abandoned in London, according to Boodle Hatfield, while Bristol, Leeds and Newcastle-upon-Tyne also saw a significant downturn in workspace use. David Rawlence, a senior associate at the law firm, said: “Businesses that have adopted hybrid working models may not be prepared to lease the same amount of floorspace as pre-pandemic or may be unwilling to commit to space which is not 'Grade-A.'”
Head of Twitter in France quits amid job cuts
Twitter’s head of operations in France has quit the social media platform. New owner Elon Musk recently fired top executives and has overseen steep job cuts at the company. The initial round of layoffs involved half of all staff, 3,750, losing their roles. Viel worked as the French country manager based in Paris, focused on relationships with advertisers. “Au revoir #twitterfrance,” he wrote, “thanks to everyone for these incredible and intense seven years.” Reuters notes that labour laws in France prevent companies from dismissing permanent employees overnight. Meanwhile, Arcom, the French regulatory authority for audiovisual and digital communication, has sent a letter to Twitter asking it to ensure by November 24th that it can meet its legal obligation to guarantee transparent information despite the job cuts. “Arcom would like to express its deep concern about the direct consequences of such decisions on Twitter’s ability to maintain a safe environment for its users,” Arcom president Roch-Olivier Maistre said in a letter to Twitter.
Former KPMG chair joins Kubrick
Simon Collins, a former KPMG chairman, has taken up a job at technology company Kubrick, which places graduates in corporations after developing their data skills. “Kubrick is helping brands by plugging the digital skills to meet immediate business needs, as well as building teams for long-term needs,” he said. “It provides these skills, consistently and to the highest quality, in a flexible and efficient way. I look forward to helping the company to scale up and flourish.”
New job, new you? Well, maybe . . . 
The FT’s Emma Jacobs says career changes aren’t always the answer to working life’s problems. More minor adjustments - perhaps by going part-time - might be a better solution to dissatisfaction, she writes.
Bob Iger returns to Disney
Bob Iger, who served as Disney’s chief executive for 15 years, has stunned Hollywood by coming out of retirement to replace his successor Bob Chapek, who took over as chief executive of the media giant in February 2020. He has been brought back by Disney to steer it through turbulent times as the company’s share price has plunged and streaming service Disney+ continues to make a loss. Mr. Iger, who headed the entertainment behemoth for 15 years, told the New York Times in January it was "ridiculous" to suggest he might return. "I was CEO for a long time," he said. "You can't go home again. I'm gone," he told the newspaper.  Iger, who was chairman until 2021, has agreed to stay in the job for two years, during which time he aims to find a successor to lead the company. "I am extremely optimistic for the future of this great company and thrilled to be asked by the Board to return as its CEO," he said. As well as overseeing the launch of Disney+, Iger drove major acquisitions involving the likes of animation studio Pixar, comic book company Marvel, Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, and Lucasfilm, the home of Star Wars.
UK output drops to its lowest since first Covid lockdown
Analysis by Lloyds Bank reveals twelve of the fourteen key sectors of the UK economy experienced a drop in output in October. This is up from nine in September and the highest number to report contraction since May 2020. Rising inflation was behind the decline, forcing businesses and consumers to cut back on spending, PMI data scrutinised by the bank showed. Jeavon Lolay, head of economics and market insight at Lloyds Bank commercial banking, said: “With both our domestic challenges and global headwinds unlikely to materially recede in the short term, the key question revolves around how long this downturn may last.” However, there are parts of the economy that continue to perform well. Providers of software services are reporting a rise in new orders while food and drink had the slowest fall in demand of any manufacturing sector.

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