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17th June 2021
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Weekly benefits filings trend closer to a labor market normal
Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal have forecast that initial jobless claims for the week ended June 12 have declined to a new pandemic low of 360,000, from 376,000 for the week earlier. The WSJ says that the steady recent decline in jobless claims is bringing weekly totals closer to what would indicate a more typical labor market. The long-term average of initial jobless claims dating back to 1967—including periods of expansion and recession—is 371,763, according to Labor Department data. The four-week moving average for the week ended June 5 was 402,500. Director of economic research at Moody's Analytics Adam Kamins said he thinks the normal range is lower, between 200,000 and 250,000, without factoring in recessions. “More and more consumer-facing industries that were decimated by the pandemic are coming back online,” Mr. Kamins said. He added that in his view a level in the low to mid 200,000s “would be the indicator that we’ve leveled off.” Other economists offered different views on what a normal range of new jobless claims looks like, with totals of up to 350,000 a week.

The Elephant in the Room - Firing an Employee
Very often, firing is the last resort in dealing with a problem employee. When you've exhausted other approaches or they've done something for which there's no turning back, you're left with no other choice. It's not easy or fun, but it's a necessary part of business. In this guide written by employment attorney Kate Bischoff, UKG and The Human Times share tips on how to appropriately handle termination so you can avoid a legal fallout or a negative impact to team morale. 
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Worksite pandemic rules loosened in California
Regulators in California are set to approve revised worksite pandemic rules that allow fully vaccinated employees the same freedoms as when they are off the job. The revised regulations would conform with general state guidelines that took effect Tuesday by ending most mask rules for people who are vaccinated against the coronavirus. The rules apply in almost every workplace in the state, including to workers in offices, factories and retail. Fully vaccinated employees will not need to wear masks, except in locations like mass transit and classrooms where they are required for everyone, or in the event of outbreaks. Physical distancing will also end except for certain workers during major outbreaks. Meanwhile, public officials and labor leaders urged continued efforts to vaccinate essential workers who are largely Black and Latino even as California reopened its economy this week. California officials have struggled to balance vaccination speed with equity, knowing that residents of ZIP codes hardest hit by the pandemic have a more difficult time getting to shots. 
SEC sued over Trump-era AGM resolution rules
The SEC is being sued by a group of investors over rule changes that raise the bar for filing resolutions at annual shareholder meetings to call for new priorities or reforms. The group is reportedly concerned that the changes, pushed through in 2020 by the Trump administration, will restrict shareholder democracy just as activist investors are starting to drive significant change in Corporate America. Reuters notes that the move comes as more top funds are  throwing their weight behind investor challenges to companies on ESG issues and are putting companies on notice by choosing to publicize how and why they voted. The investors argue the new SEC rules make it harder to hold companies accountable over hot-button issues such as climate change or workforce diversity, and want them set aside. Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow, a California shareholder activist group and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said: "This was a political rulemaking not warranted by the record or the evidence." The two other plaintiffs are James McRitchie, an individual investor and frequent filer of shareholder resolutions, and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, which represents religious groups and other institutional investors.
Microsoft CEO named as chairman
Microsoft has announced that CEO Satya Nadella will also take on the role of company chairman. The Wall Street Journal notes that the move marks the second year in a row Microsoft’s board has undergone significant change after co-founder Bill Gates last year announced he was stepping down three months after having been re-elected to the board. John W. Thompson, who preceded Mr. Nadella as chairman, returned to his role as lead independent director, a title he held from 2012 to 2014. Mr. Nadella and Mr. Thompson have been in talks about potentially transitioning the chairman role going back to late 2020, according to a company spokesman, who said the change was unrelated to Mr. Gates’s departure from the board.
US CEO pay: shareholders have woken up to excess
The FT’s Lex says U.S. investors are voting against management salary plans at a far greater rate than has typically been seen, with institutional shareholders “increasingly resistant to large CEO pay packages".
Deutsche Bank pressed by ECB to name successor to Achleitner
The European Central Bank has urged Deutsche Bank to find a successor to chair Paul Achleitner and has repeatedly called for a clear succession plan ahead of his May 2022 departure.
Over 60m domestic workers in informal economy affected by COVID-19
A new report from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has found that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated working conditions that were already very poor, and domestic workers were more vulnerable to the fallout from the pandemic because of long-standing gaps in labor and social protection. "This particularly affected the more than 60m domestic workers in the informal economy," the report noted. At the height of the crisis, job losses among domestic workers ranged from 5-20% in most European countries, as well as Canada and South Africa. In the Americas, the situation was worse, with losses amounting to 25-50%. Over the same period, job losses among other employees were less than 15% in most countries. 
Tech start-ups planning employee adventures
The Wall Street Journal looks at how CEOs of tech start-ups are planning employee adventures for remote workers, including beach vacations and mountain biking. CEOs say that offering the flexibility of remote work and the perk of frequent, company-sponsored travel, will allow them to better compete for talent with the big tech companies, some of which have drawn blowback from their employees by mandating they return to the office for at least a few days a week. CEOs of start-ups with about 100 employees or fewer cited a price tag of $100,000 to $500,000 apiece for the trips.
Staples CEO Alexander Douglas to step down
Staples said yesterday that chief executive Alexander Douglas is to step down from the role, effective June 18th, and replaced on an interim basis by executive chairman John Lederer. The office supplies retailer and Mr Douglas “mutually agreed” to the change, without providing further details. The move comes two weeks after Staples offered to buy Office Depot owner ODP Corp’s consumer business for $1bn, in its latest effort to acquire its rival’s assets. ODP’s board said it is reviewing the proposal.
Inspire Brands promotes Dunkin’ exec to CFO
Inspire Brands, the owner of Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and other restaurant chains, has tapped the chief financial officer of its Dunkin’ Brands business to manage the group’s finances. Atlanta-based Inspire announced yesterday that Kate Jaspon will succeed David Pipes, who is retiring. Ms. Jaspon said she plans to take best practices from the company’s various chains and roll them out across the portfolio, advancing Inspire’s shared-services model, where certain services and tasks are managed at the central level. One example could be Dunkin’s technology allowing customers to place their orders and pay online before they enter a store, Ms. Jaspon said.
Albertsons hires new chief merchandising officer
Albertsons has appointed Jennifer Saenz as chief merchandising officer, effective July 12th. Ms Saenz was previously global chief merchandising officer and president of global foods for PepsiCo, serving in that role since 2019. 
Goldman Sachs pushes back office return plans
Goldman Sachs has pushed back plans to bring its UK staff back to the office after the Government announced that the end of lockdown restrictions will be delayed. While the bank had been planning to have staff return to their desks this month, Goldman Sachs International chief executive Richard Gnodde has told staff that current working arrangements will continue, with the lender’s office in the City remaining open but attendance to remain voluntary. Elsewhere, JPMorgan has told UK-based employees that its return-to-office plans are on hold until July. Meanwhile, BBC News looks at banks plans for how work will be conducted, post-pandemic. NatWest has said just over a third of its UK full-time employees would continue to work remotely, while Barclays said it expects to "invite" more staff back to its Canary Wharf office over the summer but is "moving towards a hybrid way of working". HSBC has also said it plans to adopt a hybrid model of working.
Mandatory vaccines for many workers in Moscow
Moscow now requires employees in industries that provide services to a large number of people to be fully vaccinated by August 15. Authorities said that vaccination against COVID-19 will become compulsory for service industry workers tending to large numbers of people in Moscow. Retail, education, health care, public transport and other trades that provide services to a large number of people are now required to ensure that 60% of staff get at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine by July 15 and are fully vaccinated by August 15. However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there were no plans to order mandatory vaccinations nationwide.
Juneteenth set to become national holiday
The first new federal holiday created by Congress in nearly four decades is set to be signed into law by President Biden this afternoon. The House voted 415-14 to make June 19, or Juneteenth, a national holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. The law would give the day the same status as Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and other federal holidays. Congressional leaders from both parties said that establishing the holiday was an important gesture in recognizing those who suffered under American slavery and as an act of racial reconciliation. 

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