HR world today (20210506)

We have all probably lost count now concerning which lockdown we are currently living under. But as things begin easing again in much of western Europe and the USA, the crisis deepens by the day in many countries such as India and Brazil.

Maintaining control on populations has been particularly difficult as pandemic exhaustion sets in, although not all countries have reverted to mass arrests, as in Morocco or street-level corporal punishment, as in Cambodia. Whilst much faith has been put into widescale vaccination programmes, still only 15% of the World’s population have even had a single vaccination. Meanwhile, local regulations continue to be passed allowing time off to be vaccinated and progress continues across Europe with controversial plans to introduce a “green certificate” to indicate an individual has completed a vaccination programme.

In this issue, we highlight the deep long-term problems of demographic change affecting China and undermining pension systems – so clearly illustrated in Switzerland. Changing population preferences are not only leading to a fall in childbirth, but equally a growth in single person households – as in South Korea and labour shortages, as reflected in China‘s demand for Taiwanese skilled professionals.

Another perennial theme in FedEE Newswires is discrimination. What is so disturbing is that this is becoming a deepening rather than a diminishing problem. We report on how ethnic hatred is emerging as the “norm” throughout America, with an under-reported focus continuing to be on those of Asian origin. Federal and State legislatures are battling to introduce and widen protections to vulnerable groups, but this is largely just placing increased pressures on employers to lead the way. In Australia, it has finally become evident that current anti-discrimination provisions are inadequate and where laws exist – as in the field of age discrimination – even large professional firms, such as Auditors, show how poor their compliance levels have become. Finally, there are still many areas of the World, such as Iran, where state-sponsored prejudice is being increasing reinforced by the law.

Not all recent laws have been introduced to respond to the health crisis. Two important measures in prospect are, for instance, the planned establishment of paid sickleave in the Irish Republic and the further tightening of restrictions on fixed-term contracts in Germany. Two surprise facts of wide significance this issue are also the OECD‘s finding that the percentage “tax take” on personal incomes barely changed last year, even when many employees experienced substantial falls in pay levels. Even more surprising, perhaps, are the statistics hidden away in the UK‘s ONS database which show that far from increasing the level of overtime, especially unpaid overtime, amongst remote workers the health crisis has furthered a trend towards declining working time levels. Thus, bringing into question the need for legislation concerning the “right to disconnect”.

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