Welcome to the latest edition of our international employment news update.
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More than 1 in 10 workers in the Netherlands faced workplace discrimination last year
Just over 10 percent of workers in the Netherlands experienced discrimination at work last year, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reported. Common forms of discrimination included inappropriate comments and exclusion, both of which were experienced by 35% of those surveyed. A smaller percentage of people experienced threats, violence or aggression (5.5%).
Discrimination was most pronounced against people who weren’t born in the Netherlands, with 22% of people from outside Europe and 19% of people born in another European country reporting workplace discrimination.
Is it too easy to get a sick note in the UK?
Britain’s biggest online pharmacy has been accused of offering a service that makes it too easy to get signed off work. All users need do is upload a 30-second video detailing their symptoms and Pharmacy2U can provide a sick note. For a £39 fee and a pre-9pm upload time, customers can get their sick note the same day.
But an employee for The Times was able to procure a sick note for four days off work by feigning symptoms, leading some to doubt the veracity of the service.
Ecological Transition: new measures concerning employers
In October 2023, the French Ministry for Ecological Transition announced the implementation of several new measures; two of which concern employers. First, it has been decided that companies providing their employees with company bicycles will continue to benefit from a reduction in corporate income tax for 3 additional years (until the end of 2027). Secondly, the employers will be able to reimburse their employees for the cost of renting private bicycles (and not just for rental of public/shared bicycles).
Demand for flexible work booms in the Netherlands amid pension concerns
Half of workers in the Netherlands want to make agreements to work from home one or more days a week when they switch jobs, RTL Nieuws reports after surveying over 17,000 members of its opinion panel. Many people with young children in particular won’t even apply for a job if it doesn’t have work-from-home options.
Meanwhile, a recent study by the Ministry of Finance revealed that seven out of ten people who work part time do not give due consideration to the impact of reduced work hours on their pensions and retirement.
WFH denials spark disability discrimination claims in the US
Denials of employees’ requests to work from home (WFH) in the US have led to a spike in the number of disability discrimination claims filed. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) saw a 16% increase in allegations of discrimination between 2021 and 2022. Many of the claims relate to poor mental health, with conditions like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) all cited.
German unemployment sees biggest rise in over a year
Germany’s labour market is weakening as the country grapples with high borrowing costs and the late fallout from the energy price shock last year. The national unemployment rate in Europe’s biggest economy rose from 5.7% in September to 5.8% in October, marking the biggest increase in unemployed people in Germany since June 2021. Companies like Deutsche Bank and Lanxess have detailed their plans to cut jobs, while high interest rates have hit the labour-intensive construction industry.
German Ministry of Labour reduces immigration from countries with a shortage of skilled healthcare professionals
The Federal Ministry of Labour has prepared a draft law that limits the recruitment of healthcare professionals from countries which are themselves affected by a shortage of skilled healthcare staff. In this way, the Ministry aims to accommodate the “Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List, 2023” published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in March 2023, which primarily lists African, Caribbean and Southeast Asian states. However, the Federal Government is also trying to counteract the shortage of skilled healthcare professionals, primarily through immigration from countries such as the Philippines, Mexico and Brazil.
Dutch chemicals company incurs €25 million fine for unsafe practices and employee death
The Public Prosecution Service (OM) demanded a €25 million fine against Sabic Limburg for unsafe work practices at the Chemelot industrial park in Geleen. From 2015 to 2019 several safety incidents took place at the site, including an isobutane leak, soil contamination and the death of an employee during furnace maintenance. Prosecutors lamented that the “opposite” of improvement had happened during the four years in which breaches took place.