Burger employees banned from wearing face masks; Uber to face another contractor case

Burger staff are told they can no longer wear face masks; Uber has to contest another contractor case

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Jul 21, 2023

Burger employees banned from wearing masks

In a clear sign that Covid-19 is now regarded as very much a non-emergency illness, workers at In-N-Out Burger will now be banned from wearing protective face masks in five of the seven states it operates in – or face disciplinary action. The ban is reported by the LA Times – which claims to have seen a leaked staff memo. In it, the face mask ban is justified in terms of it helping “to promote clear and effective communication,” between staff and customers. The memo added: “We are introducing new mask guidelines that emphasize the importance of customer service and the ability to show our Associates’ smiles and other facial features while considering the health and well-being of all individuals.” From now on, if staff want to carry on wearing a mask, they must provide a medical note for “a specific medical condition or health concern,” to their manager or In-N-Out’s human resources department. But Dr. Judy Stone, an infectious disease expert and writer, denounced In-N-Out’s new policy on Twitter, saying it violates Covid-19 recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and “endangers” employees.

Uber ruled against in new contractor/employee case

Uber has been told it must face UberEats driver, Erik Adolph, in court over a dispute about whether the app-based firm must reimburse drivers for work-related expenses. In yet another twist to its long-standing ‘are drivers contractors or employees?’ case, Adolph began pursuing Uber, after realizing it classified its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees – the latter of which must be reimbursed for work expenses under Californian law. The California Supreme Court – in a unanimous ruling – said Adolph did not give up his right under state law to sue on behalf of a large group of workers even though he signed an agreement to bring his own work-related legal claims in private arbitration. More than half of private sector, non-union US workers are required to sign arbitration agreements as a condition of employment. The agreements typically bar them from filing or participating in traditional class action lawsuits. Critics of mandatory arbitration say it discourages workers from bringing individual claims that involve small sums of money.

Older workers to comprise a quarter of workers by 2031

Older workers aren’t quite throwing in the towel just yet, according to new data by Bain & Company. It reveals that the number of 55+ employees in the US will comprise 25% of the workforce by 2031 – a figure that is much higher than it currently stands today. This pattern is repeated globally, where 150 million jobs are expected to shift to older workers over the next eight years. “The demographic trend is clear – older workers are going to rise as a percentage of the workforce in the next 10 to 20 years, as well as rising as a percentage of the population,” said James Root, a partner at Bain and co-chair of Bain Futures. According to Bain, most workers are primarily motivated by pay, but this shifts once workers typically reach 60, when there’s a tipping that makes “interesting work” the number one job requirement. After that point, autonomy and flexibility also significantly increase in importance. However, despite this predicted rise in later-age working (brought on primarily by people staying healthier for longer), Bain also found that there was a lack of L&D support programs supporting the retention and retraining of older employees. “There is plenty of room for innovation here,” said Root.

Jobseekers prefer just a single interview

Most jobseekers don’t want round upon round of interviews, according to new data. In fact, most (83%) say a single job interview should be enough, while only 41% say two is the ideal number. The findings, from national staffing firm Express Employment Professionals, come against a background of increasingly long-winded interview processes. It finds that hiring managers typically want more stages, with 15% of recruiters wanting five or more interviews. According to Express Employment Professionals, the fear of making the ‘wrong hire’ is now overwhelming, and is forcing many recruitment professionals to add in more and more stages than ever before. The problem, finds the data, is that good candidates then start to seek for simpler hiring processes elsewhere. It finds that when companies add in what are seen to be extraneous stages, jobseekers will source another position elsewhere (32%); or become disillusioned with the business entirely (27%). A lengthy interview process was also found to lead to subjective decision-making (26% or biases (24%). “Finding the balance between getting to know a candidate and facilitating too long of an interview process is tough but worth it to create a tenured, invested workforce,” said Bill Stoller, CEO, Express Employment International.

Canada wants to lure 10,000 Americans to come and work there

Canada is making it easier for Americans to live and work there by introducing a new program to lure 10,000 H1-B visa holders from the United States. As part of Canada’s strategy of attracting highly skilled workers, the new open work permit stream allows H1-B visa holders from the US to live and work in Canada for a period of three years. “Thousands of workers in high-tech fields are employed with companies that have large operations in both Canada and the US, and those working in the US often hold an H1-B speciality occupation visa. As of July 16, 2023, H1-B speciality occupation visa holders in the US, and their accompanying immediate family members, will be eligible to apply to come to Canada,” the Canadian government said in a release earlier this month. H1-B visas are typically used by technology companies to hire foreign nationals for specialized occupations. Canada’s strategic move aims to embrace workers recently laid off in the US tech industry and/or attract professionals who may now be seeking new opportunities. Indians, who account for nearly 75% of H1-B visa holders in the United States, are set to be the major beneficiaries of a new scheme.

Men are returning to the office faster than women

The great return to the office is very much a male event, according to new data which reveals that the number of men working at least partly at home fell from 35% in 2021 to 28% in 2022. By comparison, the numbers differ drastically for women: down by just a half percentage point during the same time frame, to 41%. The data was published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which also found women spent significantly more time performing unpaid household work on top of their day jobs. On an average day, 22% of men did housework – such as cleaning or laundry – compared with 47% of women. These findings could be a worry though, as the preference by women to stay at home could dramatically undo recent gains made in rebalancing gender representation. Those who stay at home are now known to suffer from proximity bias – where promotions or pay rises tend to favor those seen most often – typically those who are in the office. Research also suggests that working in the same space as the boss increases the likelihood of one’s efforts being recognized and receiving credit for a job well done, according to workplace experts and Harvard Business Review contributors Mark Mortensen and Martine Haas.

African Twitter employees say they were sacked then ghosted

Former employees at Twitter’s African office in Ghana claim they were sacked, left without any severance pay, and have been totally ignored. Last November, Twitter fired nearly all of the staff at its only office in Africa. Under Ghanaian employment law, staff must be paid redundancy and should be granted three months’ notice before they are made redundant. Twitter’s workers in the capital Accra were given less than a month, according to sources. Said one former employee: “Twitter has dealt with us in bad faith since we were laid off in November 2022. There was no attempt to even negotiate a severance with us until international news started to report on this.” The ex-employee added: “They have completely ignored us since our lawyer reached out to theirs to accept the offer in May. For many of us, expenses owed have also not been paid.”