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Aug 26, 2022
This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.

Ford slashes its US workforce

Motor company, Ford, has announced it is slashing 3,000 jobs – most of which will impact US workers. The cuts will include 2,000 salaried positions and 1,000 agency jobs in the US, Canada and India, according to an email sent to staff from Ford chair, Bill Ford and CEO Jim Farley. The cuts, which were first reported by Automotive News, come less than a month after Farley told analysts that: “we absolutely have too many people in certain places, no doubt about it.” The reductions are occurring across Ford’s businesses, which it split into two units earlier this year to separate its electric and internal combustion engine businesses. “There are opportunities to be more efficient and more effective in all the business units and all the functions that support them,” Ford spokesman T.R. Reid told CNBC. Ford employs about 31,000 salaried workers in North America. The cuts are part of a massive transformation of the company called Ford+. This aims to cut $3 billion in structural costs by 2026.

Gig work more harmful to employees’ mental health

The debate around whether workers want/prefer more flexible ‘gig-work’ continues unabated, and this week, comes new research from the red corner, which argues the insecure income associated with nontraditional employment has an overall negative impact on the health and wellbeing of workers. The full results of the data – compiled by researchers at UTHealth Houston – will not be published until September, but an early version of the results reveals insecure income earners reported a 50% increase in poor overall health and psychological distress compared to salary earners. Overall, it concludes that gig work creates a sicker workforce, which creates higher un-reimbursed healthcare costs, and greater costs to consumers. Author, Robert Thomas said: “It is reasonable to project that the US taxpayer will pay more for uninsured chronic morbidity care of uninsured US workers who are paid an insecure income.”

Walmart to offer abortion coverage to US employees

Two months after Roe V. Wade was controversially overturned by the Supreme Court, retail giant, Walmart, has announced that its self-insured healthcare plans will now cover abortion “when there is a health risk to the mother, rape or incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or lack of fetal viability.” The change was revealed in a memo from chief people officer, Donna Morris, to employees that was also shared with Retail Dive. Walmart also expanded its travel coverage for employees due to “how recent events are resulting in state-by-state healthcare environments,” providing support to associates and covered dependents to travel for covered services when they are not available within 100 miles of their location. The update sees it join a growing list of other employers that have expanded their abortion healthcare coverage for employees.

US adds 528,000 more jobs in July

The number of new jobs being added to the US economy each month has continued to surprise analysts, with 528,000 racked up in July. The additions take the number of new jobs added to 22 million jobs since reaching a low in April 2020. The stronger-than-expected growth comes a month after the labor department announced the economy added 398,000 jobs in June ­– some 26,000 more than its first estimate. According to The Guardian, economists had been expecting jobs growth to slow in July. But the latest figures were actually far stronger than the average 388,000 jobs gained over the last four months. “The unexpected acceleration in non-farm payroll growth in July, together with the further decline in the unemployment rate and the renewed pick-up in wage pressures, suggests the economy is still a long way from recession,” suggested Michael Pearce, senior US economist at Capital Economics. However, the labor department also said the number of people filing for unemployment benefits rose to 260,000 last week, up from 254,000 the previous week.

Union members earn more than their peers

Those who belong to unions earn an average of 10% more than their non-union member peers, according to new research by the congressional joint Economic Committee. The difference was found to be even greater for black and Latino unionized workers, whose wages were 17% and 23% higher respectively. Valerie Wilson, who works at the Economic Policy Institute, argued the difference can be explained by the collective bargaining that being a union member offers. She said: “It clearly lays out policies and practices and pay for a worker in a given position.” The research noted that although union membership has been declining for decades, black workers are more likely to be in a union than the population at large.

Court says company ‘can’ pay staff bonuses

Embattled cryptocurrency brokerage, Voyager, has won the right to be allowed to pay key staff members retention bonuses – even though it is filing for bankruptcy. The firm won approval for its Key Employee Retention Plan (KERP), which has earmarked paying $1.9 million to 38 key employees that have been identified as crucial to the exchange’s ongoing operation. Creditors of the firm, which filed for bankruptcy in July 2022, had initially opposed Voyager’s KERP payments in a court filing on August 19th, claiming payments to investors should be prioritized ahead of already “well-compensated” employees. The bonuses are conditional on Voyager implementing operational cost-cutting measures that will save the business $4.6 million. US bankruptcy judge, Michael Wiles, approved the bonuses partly because none of the beneficiaries of the bonuses are appointed or sit/report to the board of directors.

Biden ends Covid testing for unvaccinated federal employees

The Biden administration has told agencies to stop testing unvaccinated employees for Covid-19, as it changes tack in its attempts to inoculate the US federal workforce. Guidance on the changes, which came into effect on 22 August, state that agencies will no longer need to perform ‘serial screen testing’ on employees based on their vaccination status, and that federal government will no longer treat employees differently based on whether or not they are up to date with their jabs. If a federal employee is exposed to Covid-19, they will no longer have to undergo different isolation requirements to other employees. This means not having to stay at home and quarantine, provided they are asymptomatic. In addition, employees, contractors and visitors won’t be asked to disclose their vaccination status before entering a federal building.


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