HR world today (20210325)

It is hard in this issue to identify very many common themes, as HR developments have been so fragmentary in recent weeks.

Visa validity remains an important policy focus, although the amount of cross-border movement remains low. In many cases, it is a case of extending visa validity for foreign nationals already in the country – as in Brazil – or nationals marooned on assignments abroad – as in Singapore.

Some governments are seeking to reduce bureaucracy – as in Malta and Slovenia, whilst others wish to give special assistance to certain groups – like young people in Hungary or skilled foreign immigrants in Canada. Where governments remain incapable of change, however, is in respect to the employment of vulnerable groups – whether they be women in general in India, the high proportion of illiterate women in Pakistan, or University graduates in Nigeria. Attempts are also being made too at a corporate level to increase early retirements in TIM Group in Italy and facilitate partial retirement in VW Germany.

Individual court rulings often throw up some interesting side-lights on common HR problems and experiences – such as over-reacting to an employee’s decision to suddenly take an unannounced day of leave when things are busy (Australia), a well-meaning gesture concerning reduced working time that backfires (France), being unable to wait for an agreement on risk assessments (Germany) and “loaded” recruitment procedures to favour internal candidates (Spain). Possibly, the simplest and most useful ruling, however, comes from an English tribunal concerning the sacking of a driver for refusing to use PPE after a Client request.

We are beginning to see an increased interest by companies in the conduct of workplace vaccinations for COVID-19 – with a framework agreement in Italy to permit such programmes and a scheme to purchase vaccines in Indonesia. As we point out, however, in our global section – there are numerous problems with the management of the ongoing lockdowns – from the use of gloves to the actual true mortality figures from the Pandemic. One ray of light is offered by the vaccine rollout programme, especially if agreement can be reached on a new vaccine passport to permit mobility.

Easily the best run government in the World, especially during the global Pandemic, has been New Zealand. Not only have COVID-19 cases been kept down by a series of convincing very-strict policies that have won the support of the population, but the economic down-time has been used to improve skill levels and improve the operational integrity of the corporate sector. These will ensure that the economy will be able to take the greatest advantage of the point when the World begins its final recovery stage. We look at a number of recent changes, especially in respect to training and apprenticeships.

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