Issue 36

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

Adapting to the digitalisation of work

Advances in technology, COVID and globalisation are influencing the way we work. The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change reported that increased mobility could put up to 5.9 million well-paid UK professionals at risk of being replaced by cheaper overseas talent. According to an OECD study, around one in five jobs in Germany is threatened by digitalisation. Experts advocate new skills , education and training systems to safeguard the future of the workforce and fight unemployment.

Companies to pay employees for vaccine time off

Companies in the UK including Amazon and Sky are encouraging their staff to get vaccinated by giving them paid time off or offering flexible working hours. Some have promised sick pay for employees who experience side-effects and are unable to work. "We're calling on every employer to join us in the final push to get the UK vaccinated," vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi said.

Dutch unemployment figure falls to lowest point since the start of the pandemic

The Netherlands' unemployment rate has fallen to 3.2 %, the lowest level since the pandemic hit in March 2020. The number of unemployed persons declined to 297,000 in June 2021 from 309,000 in May, official figures show. Still, there are 3.8 million people who did not have paid work but were not considered unemployed because they were not actively seeking a job.

U.K. unemployment falls and vacancies reach pre-pandemic level

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that the U.K. unemployment rate dropped to 4.8% in the latest quarter. “As the economy gradually reopened, the unemployment rate fell in March to May. This was especially marked for younger people, who had been hardest hit by earlier lockdowns.” Darren Morgan, of the ONS said. The report also revealed that while there are more job vacancies now than before the pandemic, companies are having difficulties recruiting staff as the labour market is “struggling to cope with the pace of reopening”. Unemployment is expected to reach 5.5% once the furlough scheme ends.

Lack of return to work interview after maternity leave in France does not nullify dismissals

On 7 July 2021, the French Supreme Court ruled that an employer's failure to carry out its obligation to provide employees returning from maternity leave with a professional development interview could not, in itself, lead to the nullification of a dismissal. The French Supreme Court explained that no regulations provide for a dismissal to be made void on the basis that no interview was conducted.

Amendment to the Wage and Social Dumping Prevention Act in Austria

Austria's amendment to the Wage and Social Dumping Prevention Act which implements an "EU-compliant penalty framework“ is due to come into force at the beginning of September 2021. This will abolish the current 'cumulation principle' whereby companies are fined for violations of multiple administrative offences. From September, penalties will accrue based on a set of criteria. The modifications will also include provisions improving the standard framework of protection for foreign workers posted to Austria.

Employers can ban headscarves, EU court rules

Women can be dismissed for refusing to remove their hijabs, Europe's highest court ruled. This follows two cases in Germany where the judge ruled that any prohibition on religious symbols including headscarves “may be justified by the employer’s need to present a neutral image towards customers or to prevent social disputes”. The employer must show it is not discriminating between different religions in its policy. The ruling has been criticised as a violation of religious freedoms.