EY error leaves staff overdrawn; Amazon questions its office space needs (while its wareho…

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Jul 22, 2022
This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.

Payroll error hits 55,000 EY staff in US

More than 55,000 US staff working for EY had a nasty surprise when they woke up on Tuesday morning and found their latest wages had…well, vanished. The embarrassing disappearance (EY is, after all, an accounting firm), saw wages staff had been paid the previous Friday go AWOL due to an error by EY’s payroll provider, ADP. The mistake meant staff who had already transferred money out of their accounts, or used it to pay bills, were suddenly left overdrawn. In a statement, EY said ADP had “erroneously reversed” its July 15 payroll “impacting our US employees”. It added that it was working urgently with ADP to fix the error. Luckily for staff, EY confirmed it would reimburse anyone given penalties or other bank fees/charges. When the mistake emerged, EY staff took to online forums and message boards to vent their frustration: “Woke up with a bank alert about an overdraft fee, great way to start my day,” said one person on Reddit. Other user said they were now overdrawn as a result of the mistake.

American Airlines criticized for telling staff off about uniforms

Amidst scores of flight cancellations and staff having to deal with increasing anger from customers, American Airlines has been criticised for taking a rather waspish approach to the arguably lesser-important problem of uniform violations. Live and Let’s Fly reports a memo was sent to staff with a somewhat threatening tone: “For those who are not in compliance, base leadership will ask you to address the concern and provide a reference to our uniform standards as a resource. For the first 30 days, our leaders will not document the conversation as long as you can correct the non-compliance issue prior to your flight.” Said “Airlines are desperate for employees. They’re even more desperate for employees who actually know what they’re doing. Why they allowed so many of them to leave during the pandemic is beyond me. What kind of an example is it to prospective hires — and, for that matter, to passengers — to threaten your employees because they may be wearing the wrong tie or shoes?

Amazon pauses new office building as it reevaluates hybrid working…

Amazon isn’t all about giant warehouses. It needs offices too. Or does it? Reports have this week revealed that the online retailer is pausing the construction of six new office buildings in Bellevue and Nashville as it reevaluates its needs due to hybrid working. According to a statement in the New Straits Times, Amazon’s vice president of global real estate and facilities, John Schoettler, said: “The pandemic has significantly changed the way people work …Our offices are long-term investments and we want to make sure that we design them in a way that meets our employees’ needs in the future.” This news follows reports last week that Meta and Amazon were pulling back on office expansions in New York. Meta has decided it won’t be taking an additional 300,000 square feet of space at 770 Broadway, a building near Astor Place, where it is already located. Meanwhile, Amazon has cut down the amount of space it is intending to lease from JPMorgan Chase & Co at Hudson Yards.

…as investigators look into ‘pace of work’ claims in warehouses

Back to Amazon’s warehouses! Earlier this week it was reported that investigators from The Occupational Safety and Health Administration had visited several Amazon facilities to look into possible safety issues. Warehouses visited included those outside New York City, Chicago and Orlando, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said. According to NBC News, the spokesman, Nicholas Biase, said that amongst possible worker hazards being looked at was “Amazon’s required pace of work for its warehouse employees.” Amazon has long been criticised for the frenetic speed it expects staff to work, and how this has to be maintained all day long. In March, Washington state’s Department of Labor fined the retail giant for “strenuous work at an unsafe pace” at a fulfillment center in Kent. A spokesperson for Amazon told NBC affiliate KING of Seattle that the company strongly disagreed with the labor agency and intends to appeal.

Restaurants facing vicious circle of staff shortages claims report

Staff shortages in the restaurant sector are creating their own vicious circle, according to the National Restaurant Association. It finds shortages of labor cause under-staffing, which causes more stress and workload for existing staff, which forces them to leave and exacerbate the problem even further. According to the National Restaurant Association the sector is still down 750,000 people – or around 6.1% of its workforce – compared to before the pandemic. It found that restaurant customers mentioned short staffing three times more often in their Yelp reviews this year than they did last year. This, according to CNBC, is now “taking its toll” on staff. The American Customer Satisfaction Index also finds that consumers were less happy with fast-food chains this year compared with 2021. The sector’s score slipped from 78 to 76 out of 100. Saru Jayaraman, director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California Berkeley and president of One Fair Wage said: “It’s a vicious cycle. People unhappy with the service they get may tip less, or won’t come back, and sales are down.”

Trucking companies say new employment law will force them out of business

Truck operating companies temporarily blocked terminal gates at the Port of Oakland in the San Francisco Bay Area this week, over a new law that sets tougher standards for classifying workers as independent contractors. The law, known as AB5, or the “gig worker” law adds significant amounts of red tape for hiring these essential workers. Wayne Feng, wearing a “No on AB5” T-shirt, told Reuters that the law would be so financially draining that drivers “aren’t making anything.” Legal challenges kept AB5 from coming into effect in 2020, but the U.S. Supreme Court last month denied a California Trucking Association petition claiming the law is blocked by federal regulations. Experts now say an injunction that put the law on hold could soon be lifted. Backers of AB5 say it will crack down on labor abuses, by pushing owners to hire drivers as employees. They also say it will provide workers with compensation insurance and other benefits.

Most Americans not saving enough for retirement

Worrying new statistics from Willis Towers Watson (WTW) reveal that seven in ten US employees are not putting enough money aside to give them a decent lifestyle in retirement. WTW’s 2022 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey finds 69% of Americans recognize they are not saving enough for retirement, but are still not doing anything about it. According to the report, the top three reasons employees cited for not saving more for retirement were paying off debts (36%); saving money for other reasons, such as holidays, purchasing a car or paying for education (28%); and not being able to afford to save more (27%). As a result of not investing now, the WTW data also revealed that three in ten respondents (29%) now expect to work past the age of 70 or expect that they will never retire. “Saving enough money to retire comfortably while meeting current financial needs remains a significant challenge for a majority of workers,” said Mark Smrecek, senior director, retirement, WTW.

This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.
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