Issue 27

Welcome to the latest edition of our international employment news update.

Spain set to give gig economy workers employee rights in EU first

Spain has announced it will recognise riders working for food delivery apps as salaried staff. This legislation will reflect a Spanish Supreme Court ruling last September that ruled people working for food delivery app Glovo should be classed as employees.

Spain will be the first country in Europe with legislation that explicitly regulates the status of delivery workers who get around on bikes and motorcycles. The provisions could also enable these workers to access information about the algorithms affecting their work. Further pan-EU legislation is under consideration, as well.

Uber UK to pay drivers a minimum wage, holiday pay and pensions

Uber has confirmed it will reclassify more than 70,000 drivers in Britain as workers as effectively required by a recent Supreme Court judgement. The drivers are not employees so aren’t entitled to full benefits; however, they'll still receive a minimum guaranteed wage of £8.72 ($12.13), holiday pay equivalent to 12.07% of their earnings, and gain access to a pension plan.

Drivers will also have access to free insurance to cover sickness, injury, and maternity and paternity payments. Debate is expected over what should be considered "working time", as the current offer only covers drivers when they have accepted ride requests, not waiting time.

UK rules that sleeping at work is not working time

The UK's Supreme Court has ruled that care workers who sleep at their workplace in case they are needed to work are not entitled to minimum wage for their entire shift, only time spent actively working. Care organisations have welcomed the ruling, which sees them avoid the "potentially catastrophic financial outcome" of having to back-pay liabilities worth an estimated £400 million.

Remote workers in France no longer entitled to their meal vouchers

A recent court decision has exempted French employers from the obligation to provide employees working from home with meal vouchers. Although the Ministry of Labour has argued that remote workers should benefit from meal vouchers the same as office-based employees, according to the Court of Nanterre, meal vouchers are intended to "allow employees to bear additional costs associated with catering outside their home" which doesn't apply in this scenario.

UAE approves program to attract remote workers

In an attempt to attract talent, the United Arab Emirates has adopted a new remote work visa to enable employees to work in the UAE for their overseas employer for one year. With companies worldwide convinced that remote working is here to stay, the visa may be an attractive opportunity for thousands of workers, however, employees should consider their tax and legal obligations.

Spain tests out a four-day work week

Now that the Spanish government has agreed to a proposal from left-wing party Más País, Spain will be experimenting with a four-day working week. It's hoped that the shorter working week will increase productivity, improve workers' mental health and encourage a work/life balance. The European nation's move is in-line with initiatives by several companies based in New Zealand, Sweden and Japan to promote a longer weekend.

Those against the pilot scheme fear that this will cause delays in Spain's post-pandemic economic recovery, with the three-year project estimated to cost €50 million. Costs would be covered entirely for the first year, falling to 50% for the second year and 33% for the third year.

Vocational training incentivised for companies in Germany

Germany’s government has announced that it will increase incentives for firms offering vocational training by €700 million ($830 million) as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to undercut ongoing efforts to reduce shortages of skilled labour. The government will raise the bonus to €6,000 for companies that offer these training positions.

JPMorgan goes gender neutral

In response to mounting pressure from society and investors, JPMorgan has issued revised bylaws to remove all gender-based designations. "Chairman" is now "chair", while "his", "him" and "her" pronouns have also been replaced with gender neutral terms.

The biggest bank in the US, JPMorgan has also committed $30 billion to advancing racial equity, and boasts that women now represent half of all new hires globally, with 60% its US hires being racially or ethnically diverse.