Tag: Employment

Pregnant worker sacked after job posted online

An employment tribunal recently heard the story of Sintija Gaikniece, a pregnant worker who was shocked to find her own job advertised online just before she was fired from her position at VPZ, a vape shop in Forfar, Scotland. Gaikniece was dismissed in June of last year after her bosses claimed that customers had complained about her behavior. However, she became suspicious when she received no evidence of these complaints and later discovered that the company had already posted a job advertisement to replace her before officially terminating her employment.

According to the legal proceedings, Gaikniece began working for VPZ in January 2022 and discovered her pregnancy only two weeks into her employment. She stated that her bosses had promised to discuss maternity arrangements but never followed through with the discussions. Gaikniece believed that the company had conspired to terminate her to avoid paying for her maternity leave. As a result, she filed an employment tribunal appeal, which she won, leading to her being awarded £17,500 in compensation. Speaking to the Daily Record newspaper, Gaikniece expressed her belief that the company had planned her dismissal and already had a replacement ready.

Gaikniece recounted her probationary meeting in late June where her boss informed her that there were complaints about her customer attitude but provided no specific details. She was told that she hadn’t passed her probation and was given the option to leave immediately if she wished. Gaikniece accepted the termination, signed on for Universal Credit, and began her legal battle.

In response to the allegations, a spokesperson for VPZ stated that the company, as the UK’s leading vaping retailer employing over 450 individuals nationwide, promotes an inclusive culture to foster the development and success of all employees. They highlighted their commitment to equal opportunities and their comprehensive paternity and maternity policy, which offers benefits and flexibility to staff members. The spokesperson acknowledged the tribunal’s judgment but mentioned that the company would be appealing the decision and, due to ongoing legal proceedings, refrained from further comment on the case.

The case of Sintija Gaikniece sheds light on the challenges faced by expectant mothers in the workplace. Research conducted by Culture Shift indicates that more than a quarter (26%) of expectant mothers hesitate to disclose their pregnancy due to concerns about potential stigma from colleagues and managers. The percentage rises to almost half (46%) for those who have been employed for less than six months when they become pregnant. Pregnancy and maternity discrimination ranked as the fifth most common discrimination claim from 2020 to 2021. The claims mainly revolved around sham redundancies, offensive comments directed at pregnant employees, failure to implement flexible working options, and being overlooked for promotion.

In the United Kingdom, there are legal protections against maternity discrimination, with the primary law being the Protected Period outlined in the Equality Act 2010. This period begins when a woman’s pregnancy commences and ends at the conclusion of her additional maternity leave period or when she returns to work after pregnancy, whichever is earlier. These laws aim to safeguard the rights of pregnant individuals during this critical time in their lives.

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Are HR teams going overboard on benefits to attract talent? It could backfire  

So, you want to be an understanding boss, offering attractive incentives to retain your loyal, hard-working staff – and then your employee looks you directly in the eye and asks for ‘Pawternity’ leave to care for their new Bichon Frisé puppy… what do you do?  

With skills shortages at an all-time high and young job seekers becoming more demanding, employers are having to up their game when it comes to attracting the best talent. Apart from mandatory employee benefits such as maternity, paternity, adoption, holiday pay and sick leave, there’s no legal requirement for employers to offer additional incentives like flexi-working, however, if they don’t, job seekers will choose companies who do.  

As well as offering a competitive salary and pension, additional non-wage benefits include private healthcare, counselling and gym memberships.  

Flexible working and hybrid working models are game changers for potential employees so organisations who don’t offer those as options will undoubtedly lose candidates to those organisations that do.  

A few of the other firm favourite benefits include sabbatical leave, bonuses and upskilling and the four-day work week. Considering the cost-of-living crisis, candidates are also obviously looking for higher salaries and even comprehensive retirement plans.  

In a post-pandemic workplace, young job seekers want to work somewhere that aligns with their own values – this is becoming increasingly important to Gen Z and Millennials – so a £25 gift voucher won’t do the job. Gen Z wants more – and they’re not afraid to ask it.  

The benefits of companies offering incentives can be huge, in terms of the talent the business attracts, as well as engaging and retaining current employees.  

Some employers have introduced ‘duvet days’ (not to be confused with a ‘hangover day’) to enhance productivity. But if every employee asks for their duvet day on the same day this could be financially crippling for small businesses. And what about important deadlines to be met if no one is working?  

So, as an employer trying to attract new talent, do you offer generic benefits or bespoke incentives to mirror the unique needs of the employee and where do you draw the line?  

An array of benefit offerings

As the needs of the workforce change, so do the incentives with some companies offering: 

  • Wellbeing days: Designated days to help employees focus on their wellbeing – this is separate from annual leave and sick days.  
  • Fertility treatment leave: Supporting couples going through treatments like IVF. 
  • Menstrual leave: Earlier this year, Spain became the first European country to give workers paid menstrual leave as well as passing numerous sexual and reproductive rights laws. Japan introduced menstrual leave in the labour law in 1947 – citing employers cannot ask women, who experience difficult periods, to work on those days. 
  • Pet leave – Also known as ’Pawternity’ leave – this is paid leave to help employees adjust to new pet owning duties – including adopting a rescue animal. 

Menopause is garnering a lot of attention as awareness around it increases. Women in the workforce of a certain age are struggling with changing hormones and while it’s not a specific protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, employers would do well considering offering flexibility around it. According to ACAS, if an employee is put at a disadvantage and treated less favourably because of their menopause symptoms, it could be considered discrimination if related to a protected characteristic, such as age, disability, gender reassignment and sex. 

As well as employers offering competitive salaries as a given – there’s a new phenomenon of ‘perkwashing’ – where employers are so desperate to attract new employees they are inflating what they can offer and some fall short of what they have promised. 

As the demand for talent continues, with no signs of skills shortages abating, lessons can be learned here when it comes to designing talent attraction strategies.  

 TA teams should not offer benefits that they cannot deliver. If you need your team to be at their desk, every day, between 9-5, you can’t promote flexible working. To roll out effective company benefits, the incentives have to be realistic.

Ken Brotherston, CEO at TALiNT Partners commented: “While flexible benefits programmes have been around for a long time, the wide range of benefits is increasing and it’s is making it harder for TA teams manage.”   

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US job growth expected to slow

According to The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index, job growth in the US is expected to continue over the next few months, although at a slower pace. The index rose in April to 116.18, up from 115.51 in March, but the organization has forecasted a small recession to begin in 2023, although the weakening of job growth may not be noticeable until later in the year. Frank Steemers, senior economist at The Conference Board, notes that the labor market remains strong but shows visible softening across several indicators, including declines in job openings and quits, increased layoffs, and softening compensation growth.

Despite these factors, the labor market remains resilient and tighter than before the pandemic, which could complicate the Federal Reserve’s efforts to slow inflation. Steemers believes this may prompt the Fed to raise interest rates by an additional 25 basis points to decelerate job growth and wage gains. The Employment Trends Index for April was driven by positive contributions from four of its eight components, with the ratio of involuntarily part-time to all part-time workers being the largest positive contributor, followed by job openings, the percentage of firms with positions unable to fill right now, and the percentage of respondents who said they find “jobs hard to get.”

Overall, The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index suggests that while job growth will continue in the short term, a recession may be on the horizon. However, the labor market remains strong, and the Federal Reserve may need to take steps to control inflation, which could impact job growth and wage gains in the future.

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Companies in Taiwan actively invited 327,000 middle-aged and elderly individuals for job interviews

A new report by 104 Corp reveals that due to high inflation and a growing labor shortage in Taiwan, there has been a surge in middle-aged and elderly individuals returning to the workforce. To meet the increasing demand for workers, companies in Taiwan are also targeting older age groups for recruitment. The report states that in the past year, out of over one million job vacancies in Taiwan, 181,000 were specifically designed for middle-aged and elderly workers, which is three times higher than the figures from three years ago. The industries with the highest demand for workers were wholesale and retail, real estate, and the accommodation service sector.

Moreover, 104 Corp’s research found that companies in Taiwan have actively invited 327,000 middle-aged and elderly individuals for job interviews during the same period, a 2.3% increase in the past three years. The report highlights that the older generation is taking advantage of these employment opportunities, with 58,000 individuals applying for jobs in March, a 23.4% rise compared to the previous three years.

Wu Lixue, General Manager of 104 Middle-Aged and Elderly Employment Bank, said: “New recruitment strategies should focus on those age 55 and older as declining birth rates in Taiwan reduce the labour force. With inflation soaring, the self-assessed retirement age of middle-aged and elderly people has been postponed to 64 years old, retirement reserves have risen from 15 million to 20 million, and the willingness to continue working and job hunting has increased, driving the number of middle-aged and elderly active applicant.”

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UK businesses need to upskill workers to compete in sustainable marketplace

Despite the green jobs boom – almost 70% of business leaders believe the country is heading towards a green skills shortage – particularly in the areas of sustainable engineering and finance.

Research carried out by leading recruiter PageGroup, shows businesses need to upskill their workers to compete in the sustainable sector and employees are increasingly concerned about the impact climate change and net-zero commitments will have on their current roles.

Key research findings;

  • 57% believe these specialised skills are important to their business – but many are struggling to find skilled staff.
  • 27% are actively identifying opportunities and anticipating future business needs.
  • 26% investing in professional training to upskill and prepare their existing workforce.
  • 23% are offering more on-the-job training and apprenticeships.

A separate poll of 2,000 employed adults found 27% are eyeing up a green job as their next career move but many are unsure if they have the necessary skills.

The research commissioned by global recruitment experts Michael Page, showed 47% are considering work in the renewable energy sector – with many also seeing sustainable investment and sustainable construction as viable options.

Half of the employed adults considering the switch wanted a role that positively impacted the planet, while 36% wanted to future-proof their careers.

To ensure their skills are compatible with future green jobs, 28% plan to undergo training related to their current specialism, with 26% exploring online courses to achieve the necessary qualifications.

Joanna Bonnett, Head of Sustainability at PageGroup, said, “To ensure the UK succeeds in its green transition efforts, it’s crucial for policy makers, businesses, and educational organisations to collaborate and invest in properly preparing the workforce. Doing so, will create a pipeline of talent that is ready for the jobs of the future and tackle the green skills shortage, which, if not addressed, could drastically slow down net zero efforts.

“With one in five companies currently recruiting for green positions, it’s clear they recognise the significance of the green transition, and importantly, the benefits it brings to their business and workforce.”

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Demands for higher pay puts pressure on corporate budgets

With the Cost-of-Living crisis and rising inflation, business leaders are being warmed by increasing numbers of the UK workforce seeking job security and better pay – making attracting and retaining the best talent challenging.

Recruitment specialists, Robert Half’s  Jobs Confidence Index (JCI)  – an economic confidence tracker produced in association with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) every quarter found that, despite a small dip towards the end of last year, the JCI remains in positive territory at 19.9.

The Index also revealed that workers remain confident about their job security, with the search and progression pillar up 1.6 points quarter on quarter. These statistics are indicative of the skills shortages driving up both competition for talent and worker confidence.

  • 7% feel confident about their career and progression prospects in the next five years (in line with the firm’s Candidate Sentiment Survey published earlier in the year, revealing that job seeker confidence is at an all-time high).
  • 47% say they were looking for a new job – up eight percentage points on last years’ figures.
  • 43% of those actively searching for a new role wanted a better salary.

According to Robert Half, employers need to strike the right balance between offering competitive remuneration, progression plans and providing other benefits such as learning and development opportunities – if a sustainable talent attraction solution is to be developed.

Matt Weston, Senior Managing Director UK & Ireland, at Robert Half said: “The high job confidence we’re seeing in the employment market at a time when the economy is sluggish is putting pressure on corporate budgets as higher salaries are increasingly sought. The challenge for employers will be finding the right balance of financial and non-financial incentives to ensure unrealistic pay rises don’t have a detrimental impact on the bottom line. Leaders need to be mindful  that, while they can appease staff and new recruits with modest pay rises, with skills in short supply, competitors could easily poach their most valuable resource. While above-inflation pay rises aren’t sustainable for many firms, another talent exodus could soon be on the cards if retention plans aren’t implemented.”

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Survey: 15% of firms report rising employment

The National Association for Business Economics has released the “April 2023 NABE Business Conditions Survey,” which suggests that economic growth may be easing, while employment growth remains slow. However, the survey also indicates that inflation is cooling, with 40% of respondents reporting that prices charged are rising, down from 46% in the January 2023 survey and 49% from a year ago. The panel believes there is more work to be done against inflation as the share of panelists expecting prices to rise in the next three months has increased.

The survey found that 15% of respondents said employment had been rising at their firms over the past three months, while 15% said it had been falling, resulting in a net rising index of zero. This is the lowest net rising index since the July 2020 and October 2020 surveys. For the next three months, 15% of respondents anticipate employment will rise, while 19% expect it to fall, resulting in a net rising index of negative four, an improvement from the negative seven net rising index in the January survey.

The survey also indicates that shortages of skilled labor decreased to 33% from 40% in January, while 11% reported shortages of unskilled labor. Close to half of the respondents reported that their firms are not facing any labor shortages, while 22% expect labor shortages to start to abate in the fourth quarter of 2023 or later.

In addition, for the third consecutive survey, 63% reported rising wages at their firms over the past three months. None expects wages to fall over the next three months, but only 43% of respondents expect their firms’ wages to rise in the next three months—the smallest share since the October 2020 survey.

The panel’s view is nearly evenly split on the probability of the US economy entering a recession in the next 12 months, with 44% indicating more than 50% probability, and 53% suggesting less than or about 50% probability of a recession in the next year.

The survey included 55 business economists and was conducted from April 4 to April 12.

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Employment record-keeping and data access regulations overview

Employers in the Asia-Pacific region are obligated to maintain employee records containing personal data, and employees may have the right to access that data. However, record-keeping requirements vary across jurisdictions. Singapore requires records of employee data to be kept as set out in the First Schedule of the Employment (Employment Records, Key Employment Terms and Pay Slips) Regulations. Retention periods for different data vary, and there are also various record-keeping obligations under other laws and regulations. For example, Rule 11 of the Central Provident Fund Rules requires records of payments given by the Central Provident Fund Board to be retained for at least two years from the date of issue. In the event of a data breach, employers may face severe consequences. OrangeTee & Tie, a real estate firm, had to pay $37,000 after a data breach compromised the information of 250,000 employees and customers.

In Hong Kong, employers must keep wage and employment records of each employee covering the preceding 12 months of employment, and records must be kept for another six months after termination of employment. The Code of Practice on Human Resources Management specifies that other records relating to an employee’s personal data may be retained by the employer for up to seven years from the date of termination. Record-keeping obligations under other laws include keeping records of the type of identification document held by an employee under the Immigration Ordinance, and remittance statements under the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes (General) Regulation.

In Thailand, the Thai Labour Protection Act B.E. 2541 (1998) requires employers with ten or more employees to have an employee register in Thai containing specific employee information, and the information of each employee must be updated within 15 days upon any change. The retention period of records in the employee register is at least two years after termination of employment. The Thai PDPA also requires employers to maintain records of data processing activities.

Under Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act 2012, individuals may request access to their personal data in an organisation’s possession or control. However, organisations are not required to provide access to data that includes opinion data kept solely for an evaluative purpose or personal data that would reveal confidential commercial information that could harm the organisation’s competitive position, among others.

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Laid-off US workers turn to freelancing

According to a survey by talent platform Fiverr, 77% of US workers who were affected by recent layoffs are planning to explore new industries. The report also revealed that many of these laid-off workers are interested in pursuing freelance work, in addition to changing careers.

Fiverr CEO Micha Kaufman explained that the economic downturn, especially in the tech sector, has prompted a “talent migration” as skilled workers reconsider their career priorities and seek alternative work opportunities. Freelancing has become an appealing option for many laid-off workers who want more control over their careers, as observed on Fiverr’s platform.

The survey found that 33% of respondents plan to freelance while looking for a new job, and 34% plan to maintain a side hustle even after returning to full-time work. Sign-ups for freelancers providing programming and tech services notably increased in January 2023 compared to the previous year, following layoffs in the tech sector.

The report also indicated that 32% of respondents who did not want to return to full-time employment cited a lack of trust, while 56% appreciated the flexibility of not having a 9-5 job.

Fiverr partnered with Censuswide to conduct the survey among 501 white-collar or office workers in the US who reported being laid off in the last three months. The data was collected between March 8 and March 20.

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US nonfarm employment increases as temp jobs decrease.

According to seasonally adjusted data released today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of temporary help services jobs in the US decreased by 10,700 in March to nearly 3.05 million. However, total nonfarm employment increased by 236,000 in March, with the total number of jobs at almost 155.6 million.

Barry Asin, the president of Staffing Industry Analysts, stated that slower gains in overall employment suggest that the Fed’s strategy to cool the economy is working. Despite the ongoing tightness in much of the labor market, it is encouraging to see growth in the labor force and the highest level of labor force participation since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the decrease in temporary help employment is consistent with slower growth for the labor market in the future.

Today’s data shows that the temp penetration rate, which is the percentage of temp jobs in total employment, fell to 1.96% in March from 1.97% in February.

Over the past six months, the US had an average monthly gain of 334,000 nonfarm jobs. The agency noted that in March, employment continued to trend upward in leisure and hospitality, government, professional and business services, and healthcare.

The BLS revised down the previous nonfarm job numbers reported in January and February, with 17,000 fewer nonfarm jobs and 2,100 fewer temp jobs combined.

In March, the unemployment rate decreased to 3.5% from 3.6% in February. Meanwhile, the college-level unemployment rate remained at 2.0% in March, unchanged since January.

The average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by nine cents to $33.18. For production and nonsupervisory employees, the increase was also nine cents to $28.50.

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