HR world today (20210715)

The World invariably looks so different from whatever vantage point you look at it. In this issue, we move between many contrasting perspectives. We describe the enormous impact that the pandemic has had, particularly in already poor nations. We also see that even in more advanced economies like Australia, Israel and the UK, the “bounce back” has still yet to finally happen, whilst employers in Belgium, Germany, West Indies and USA struggle to know, as emergency legislation comes to an end, how far to go in forcing the issue about resumed office working, pressing employees to be vaccinated, monitoring air quality and relaxing PPE rules.

It’s not so much business as usual, as about governments in an all-fired hurry – with Canada, Mauritius and UAE desperately chasing skilled talent and the Chinese city of Shenzhen seeking to attract head office operations. Legislators too – from Argentina, Canada, Chicago, Egypt, Germany, Honduras, Paraguay and Uruguay – have been eager to raise minimum wage rates, whilst in France, there is pressure to encourage “purchasing power bonuses”. This is all in the face of evidence from, for instance, Japan where its relatively light experience of the pandemic has still seriously reduced ability to pay. It even took the Supreme Court in Maine, USA to delay the precipitant raising of the emergency minimum hourly wage to $18 until next year.

As the World presses forwards, things start to go wrong. Hence the growing number of claimants under Singapore‘s vaccine injury fund, failing to adequately draft restrictive covenants in Georgia, and UPS rushing a dismissal through within two days of employment, failing to accommodate type one diabetes and ending up in court facing the EEOC in Florida. But what, above all, could go most wrong for many companies as international business travel resumes, is the inconsistent and generally highly restrictive rules concerning business trips in the EEA/Switzerland – and even between that zone and the UK. FedEE has produced an extensive briefing on this subject and continues to press for change. The seriousness of this issue should not be underestimated.

Perhaps the other principal headline news this issue should be the effective ending of the blanket ban on dismissals in Italy. We also report on the possibility of a third Delta variant emerging in India and reveal the disturbing news that Belgium is buying up extra flu serum for this Autumn, out of a fear that a deadly flu/covid cocktail could spread through the country once the colder months return. To end on a brighter note. In a week when “Big Chocolate” was able to escape supply chain liabilities for child labour in West Africa, the government of Malawi quietly introduced a law banning “tenancy labour”. Historically, this move is probably as important as the ending of slavery, although we have yet to see if the new law has any real teeth.

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