Issue 28

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

French meal vouchers: equal treatment for remote workers and onsite employees

Following our report that lunch "al desko" may be legal in France, the Paris Court of Justice has ruled that employees working from home must continue to benefit from the meal vouchers, which employees are ordinarily entitled to receive. The Paris Court of Justice emphasised the general principle of equal treatment and held that remote workers have the same rights as those who work on the company's premises. Meal vouchers must be provided for each day worked during which the meal is included in the daily work schedule.

New Just Eat contract for 4,000 Italians

Just Eat Italy is set to hire 4,000 riders to comply with a court decision aimed at improving conditions for gig economy workers. The decision saw Italian operations of Uber Eats, Just Eat, Deliveroo and Spanish food delivery app Foodinho-Glovo fined and ordered to put more than 60,000 workers on contracts, following a report that described unsafe working conditions. Just Eat is the only operator to have complied with the order so far. The contracts entitle workers to paid holidays, sick leave, social security and union representation.

Call centres increase monitoring of home workers via webcams

Employers around the world are increasing the level of remote scrutiny to check when staff are eating, leaving their desks and looking at their phones. One of the world's biggest call centre companies, Teleperformance – which employs 380,000 people – has told staff that it will be fitting webcams to take random scans using AI to check for home-working infractions. Unions and MPs have opposed this move due to concerns about the normalisation of home surveillance.

UK trade unions call for legal curbs on AI in workplace

The UK's Trades Union Congress (TUC) says new legal protections are urgently needed to regulate the use of artificial intelligence in UK workplaces. To date, AI at work has changed the way employers recruit new candidates, determine performance ratings allocate work and manage productivity. The TUC fears that AI could lead to discrimination and unfair treatment in an already insecure gig economy.

Millions in UK set for four-day work weeks

More than 1 million UK organisations could move to a four-day work week after the pandemic, a study suggests. PwC has already announced that it will allow its 22,000 staff to spend 40-60% of their time working from the office of client sites and finish shifts early on Fridays in the summer, once the coronavirus restrictions ease. This is predicted to bring significant benefits to workers' mental health.

Impact of Germany’s Skilled Workers Immigration Act

Through the Skilled Workers Immigration Act, Germany has eased the procedures and regulations for non-EU nationals to work in Germany. The Act, effective as of March 2020, makes it possible to gain employment in Germany in jobs that could otherwise be filled by Germans nationals. From 1 March to 31 December 2020, German authorities have granted 30,200 visas to qualified specialists and trainees from third countries.

Boomers entering retirement to hit UK growth

An aging population and reduced immigration could stall growth in the UK. A report suggests that workforce growth in the next five years is predicted to fall to 0.3%, as Britain becomes a less attractive destination for overseas workers which has already seen around 1.3 million foreign nationals return to their birth countries during the coronavirus pandemic. Analysts warn of the economic burden the aging population's state pensions and healthcare will have on public finances. These fears are furthered by low birth rates, and the state pension age rising only in 2026 shrinking Britain's workforce.

New Zealand approves paid leave for miscarriages

The New Zealand Parliament has unanimously passed legislation giving couples who have a miscarriage or stillbirth three days of paid bereavement leave to allow mothers and their partners to "come to terms with their loss" without taking sick leave. The bill also applies to those having a child though adoption or surrogacy and comes amid a broader recognition of women's concerns at work.