Does Hermes’ Union Deal Predict the Future of Gig Economy Workers’ Rights in the UK?

Does Hermes’ Union Deal Predict the Future of Gig Economy Workers’ Rights in the UK?

In a deal reached earlier this month with one of the UK’s largest trade unions, the courier company Hermes is offering its self-employed drivers the option to obtain some of the rights enjoyed by regular employees, including a guaranteed minimum wage and holiday pay, the Guardian reported:

Under the agreement with the GMB union, Hermes’ 15,000 drivers will continue to be self-employed but can opt into contracts with better rights. The deal comes after almost 200 Hermes couriers won the right to be recognised as “workers” at an employment tribunal last summer in a case backed by the GMB. Under employment law, “workers” are guaranteed rights including holiday pay, the legal minimum wage, minimum rest breaks and protection against unlawful discrimination.

The GMB has been active in advocating for the rights of British workers in the gig economy, also backing similar labor tribunal cases against other companies operating on an independent contractor model, including Uber, which lost a landmark case in 2016. Other British unions and union federations have also supported claims regarding the rights of gig economy workers, with tribunals ruling in favor of the workers in most of these cases. The settlement reached this month means that Hermes will drop its planned appeal against the ruling last year, while the GMB will refrain from pursuing further litigation against the company.

The “worker” classification in UK employment law defines a space between employees and the self-employed, but the tests for classifying workers as such are primarily defined by case law and increasingly unclear as technological shifts have brought about changes in the way people work. The Taylor Review of modern working practices recommended in its 2017 report that the government relabel “workers” as “dependent contractors,” write a clearer definition of this category into law, and make it the default status for companies that have a self-employed workforce above a certain size. The government said last year that it would adopt most of the review’s recommendations, but did not commit to writing this “worker by default” model into law.

Yvonne Gallagher, A partner at the London-based law firm Harbottle and Lewis, commented to Personnel Today that the Hermes deal would raise some questions about these drivers’ tax and national insurance obligations:

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How Can an Employer Incentivize Social Responsibility?

How Can an Employer Incentivize Social Responsibility?

At an all-company meeting last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company was retooling its employee bonus system to reflect a new set of priorities, focused on addressing the controversies surrounding the social media giant concerning the proliferation of hate speech and misinformation on its platform. In addition to traditional metrics like user growth and product quality, Facebook will reward employees this year based on their success at promoting the social good including combating fake accounts, protecting users’ safety, and making progress on other social issues affected by Facebook and the internet in general.

The decision to reward employees for doing social good reflects a challenge that many companies, particularly large corporations with major public profiles, are facing today. Investors, politicians, the media, and consumers are paying more attention than ever before to the social, environmental, and ethical consequences of what businesses do. And Facebook is not alone in this desire, for example, Chevron recently announced that it would tie executive compensation to reductions in the energy corporation’s greenhouse gas emissions. This dynamic, in turn, puts more pressure on corporate leaders to deliver sustainability and social responsibility as well as growth.

For Facebook, awarding bonuses to employees for meeting social responsibility goals will inevitably test the company’s ability to live up to two truisms: “actions speak louder than words,” and “what gets measured gets done.” To the first point, companies can articulate all the values they want, but at the end of the quarter or fiscal year, what matters is whether the organization actually lived up to those values in its day-to-day business practices. We’ve seen companies attempt to project an image of social responsibility, only to get called out for not really reflecting that image in their work. The impact of Facebook’s new policy will take time to fully materialize, but when it pays out bonuses for 2019, investors and reporters will be curious to see whether they have really rewarded the kind of choices they say they intend to, and whether those rewards reflect a real change.

As to the second point, Facebook has set itself an ambitious goal of identifying quantifiable metrics by which to determine progress against its goals of social good. Facebook has acknowledged that there is no easy or obvious formula for doing this, but they are looking at targets like number of fake accounts shut down daily or improvements to safety and security as possible metrics. Being a data-driven company, Facebook will likely get more granular and detailed about how it defines success, especially with both the media and governments paying closer and closer attention.

Here are four things that any company considering a similar change should be ready to do to make it more likely that an incentive program like this will be successful:

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Online Recruiting Market Set to Heat Up in 2019 as Key Players Expand

Online Recruiting Market Set to Heat Up in 2019 as Key Players Expand

The marketplace of online recruiting platforms has become increasingly competitive over the past few years, as both big tech companies and startups alike have sought to establish themselves as the platform of choice for both candidates and employers. This week brought news that three of the most-watched competitors in this field are growing, adding new features, or expanding their geographical reach.

LinkedIn announced on Tuesday that it was moving all of its core talent solutions — Jobs, Recruiter, and Pipeline Builder — onto one platform, which it calls the intelligent hiring experience. This consolidation will enable recruiters to “to see all their candidates … in one unified pipeline,” no matter which of these three tools they came from, John Jersin, VP of Product Management at LinkedIn Talent Solutions, explained in a blog post on Tuesday. The company is also “releasing more than 15 new product enhancements for LinkedIn Recruiter and Jobs over the next few quarters,” Jersin added.

In addition to the single pipeline, LinkedIn’s new features include new AI capabilities, which will enable its tools “to talk to one another and leverage machine learning to simplify the hiring process”:

The more you interact with candidates within a project, the more our tools learn about what you like — and don’t like — and then we can surface better candidates for your open role. Based on the applicants, leads, and search results you interact with, the intelligent hiring experience automatically builds a list of recommended candidates for you to consider reaching out to.

The platform is also adding a shared messaging system that will show all candidate communications in one place, a slide-in profile view to more easily look at candidate profiles in the middle of a search, and a feature called “Closing the Loop,” which makes it easier for employers to send rejection messages to applicants, either individually or in bulk. This functionality is meant to address the lack of communication that adversely affects candidate experience and can discourage rejected candidates from applying to other jobs at the same organization for which they might be more qualified. LinkedIn’s mobile app is also getting a call-to-action feature that will enable anyone at an organization to quickly let their LinkedIn network know about a job opening there.

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Flexibility for All: New Lessons From PwC’s Experience

Flexibility for All: New Lessons From PwC’s Experience

Today’s digital work environment has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for working outside the traditional model of 9-to-5, Monday through Friday, chained to your desk. While some jobs will always require employees to be in a certain place at a certain time, communications technology now makes flexibility possible for most knowledge workers in terms of where, when, and how they get their work done, at least some of the time. Flexible work is attractive to many employees, but it’s more than just a perk: Many organizations are discovering that it can help drive important business goals such as engagement, retention, productivity, and inclusion. To that last point, flexibility is now seen as a valuable tool for helping working parents and caregivers manage their home obligations without sacrificing professional growth and career progress.

One company that has had a positive experience with flexibility is PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which over the past ten years has evolved a culture of “everyday flexibility” that makes flexible work available to all employees, regardless of their role or circumstances. Anne Donovan, U.S. People Experience Leader at PwC, recently outlined what the company learned in this process at the Harvard Business Review. One key lesson, she writes, is to “be ‘flexible’ when creating a flexibility culture,” rather than implementing a rigid, formal policy:

Flexibility for a caregiver might mean being able to leave work early to take an elderly parent to a doctor’s appointment. For a parent, it might mean taking a midday run, so evenings can be spent with their children. And for others, it could simply be taking an hour in the afternoon to go to a yoga class and recharge. When we look at flexibility this way, it’s easy to see why formal rules actually hinder adoption and progress. It’s impossible to have a one-size-fits-all approach for flexibility. We let our teams figure out what works best for them, as long as they deliver excellent work, on time. The rest is all fair game.

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More US Employers Embrace Fertility Benefits as a Talent Attractor

More US Employers Embrace Fertility Benefits as a Talent Attractor

In today’s tight labor market, US employers are having to work harder to attract and retain talent, not just by offering more pay and benefits, but also by targeting their employee value proposition to fit the needs of their candidates and current employees. As millennials take on the burden of caring for their aging parents while starting families of their own, and as progressive organizations strive to make sure motherhood doesn’t derail the career of their women employees, many of the latest benefit trends are family-focused: paid parental leave, flexibility for working parents, returnship programs for parents returning from career breaks, and so forth.

Another increasingly popular family benefit is health insurance coverage for fertility treatments, to help employees who want to start families but struggle with infertility. In vitro fertilization, the most effective of these treatments, is increasingly common as women start families later, but is often prohibitively expensive, costing over $12,000 for just one round, whereas several rounds are sometimes required to result in a successful pregnancy.

Despite the cost, we’ve seen several large employers add fertility benefits to their rewards packages in the past year, including Cisco, Estée Lauder, and MassMutual. In a recent feature at the New York Times, Vanessa Grigoriadis takes a look at what’s driving this trend, pointing to a recent Mercer study that found the percentage of large employers (of 20,000 employees or more) had increased from 37 percent to 44 percent from 2017 to 2018:

These days, I.V.F. coverage is “escaping” the sectors that have traditionally offered it, meaning tech, banking and media, said Jake Anderson, a former partner at Sequoia Capital and a founder of Fertility IQ, a website that assesses doctors, procedures and clinics. General Mills, Chobani, the Cooper Companies and Designer Shoe Warehouse have either introduced coverage or greatly increased dollar amounts for 2019. Procter & Gamble Company offered only $5,000 in fertility benefits until this year, when it increased the benefit to $40,000.

Many organizations are falling short, however, when it comes to communicating this benefit to employees and job seekers, Grigoriadis points out:

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What’s Your Game Plan for Super Bowl Monday?

What’s Your Game Plan for Super Bowl Monday?

This Sunday is the Super Bowl, the most-watched sporting event in the US. For football fans, that often means getting together with friends to watch the game and celebrate or commiserate afterward, depending on whether your team won or lost. For employers, on the other hand, it means a productivity slump the next day, as employees call in “sick” Monday morning or show up to work late, underslept, and/or hungover.

This year, some 17.2 million Americans might miss work the day after the big game, according to the “Super Bowl Fever Survey” commissioned by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated and conducted by The Harris Poll. The institute notes that this is the largest estimated number of absentees since the survey began in 2005, surpassing the 16.5 million estimated in 2016. The annual survey was conducted last month among 1,107 employed adults in the US aged 18 and older, and calculates its estimate based on the percentage of respondents who said they would likely stay home (11 percent) multiplied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent count of the US workforce (156.9 million people).

From the same survey data, the institute estimates that 7.8 million Americans will be taking a pre-approved day off on Monday, while 4.7 million will take a last-minute sick day and another 22 million will either go into work late or work remotely from home. Senior-level employees and executives were more likely than junior and mid-level employees to say they would probably not work their normal hours on Monday.

Employees and employers alike know that Monday is the biggest “sick day” of the year, and 62 percent of senior-level/executive leaders surveyed by the institute said they found it funny when co-workers call out sick the day after the Super Bowl when they suspect they’re not actually sick. In a separate survey from the staffing firm OfficeTeam, however, 42 percent of senior managers said they considered these unplanned absences the most distracting or annoying employee behavior when it comes to major sporting events — more than any other habit. The OfficeTeam survey also found that 54 percent of professionals know someone who’s called in sick or made an excuse for skipping work following a major sporting event.

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A Ghost in the Pipeline: What to Do About Disappearing Candidates

A Ghost in the Pipeline: What to Do About Disappearing Candidates

In recent months, many employers have been noticing a trend of candidates and employees “ghosting” them — a term borrowed from online dating that refers to someone dropping out of contact without so much as a goodbye. Recruiters are seeing candidates make it halfway through the hiring process, then simply stop responding to phone calls, text messages, or emails. Chip Cutter, then a managing editor at LinkedIn, was among the first to spot the trend last June:

Where once it was companies ignoring job applicants or snubbing candidates after interviews, the world has flipped. Candidates agree to job interviews and fail to show up, never saying more. Some accept jobs, only to not appear for the first day of work, no reason given, of course. Instead of formally quitting, enduring a potentially awkward conversation with a manager, some employees leave and never return. Bosses realize they’ve quit only after a series of unsuccessful attempts to reach them. The hiring process begins anew. …

Some of the behavior may stem not from malice, but inexperience. Professionals who entered the workforce a decade ago, during the height of the Great Recession, have never encountered a job market this strong. The unemployment rate is at an 18-year low. More open jobs exist than unemployed workers, the first time that’s happened since the Labor Dept. began keeping such records in 2000. The rate of professionals quitting their jobs hit a record level in March; among those who left their companies, almost two thirds voluntarily quit. Presented with multiple opportunities, professionals face a task some have rarely practiced: saying no to jobs.

It’s not only candidates, either; in December, the Washington Post reported that more employees were also “ghosting” their employers, walking out of work one day and not showing up again, with no notice or explanation:

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