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Grindr sees half of staff quit over its return to the office policy; Covid-19 on the rise

In our HR roundup this week: Grindr's return-to-office policy creates a mass exodus of staff; Google is accused of pay disparities and Amazon is accused of using illegal confidentiality clauses

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Sep 14, 2023

Half of Grindr’s workforce quit over mandated return to office policy…

In a defiant move proving they won’t be bullied to go back into the office, half of the staff at LGBQ dating app, Grindr, have sensationally quit. News outlets are reporting that around 80 of the company’s 178 workers have left the company, after the business ended its remote working policy. According to the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Grindr told staff they had two weeks to decide whether to relocate to a newly assigned “hub” city [including those in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco], where they would work in-person twice a week with their respective teams, or leave the company with severance. It now appears nearly half of staff decided the latter. In a further twist, according to the CWA, Grindr’s return-to-office mandate was a retaliatory response intended to shut down talks of unionizing. After filing an unfair labour practice charge against Grindr with the National Labor Relations Board, the CWA has made it clear that it intends to take a stand against the tech company. A Grindr spokesperson told CNN: “We are looking forward to returning to the office in a hybrid model in October and further improving productivity and collaboration for our entire team.”

…as 90% of firms say they will return to the office policies by the end of 2024

New research by Resume Builder suggests a whopping 90% of companies plan to implement return-to-office policies by the end of 2024. Its polling of more than 1,000 companies also revealed 30% said their company would threaten to fire employees who don’t comply with their new in-office requirements. Commenting on the data, Korn Ferry senior partner Dan Kaplan said: “It’s easier for executives to hold on to the old notion that people are really working if they can see them down the hall.” He added: “It’s almost too hard for some leaders to comprehend a world where that option doesn’t exist, or to consider a radical new approach.” The data comes at the same time research suggests staff overwhelmingly prefer hybrid work. Some 68% of full-time workers now say they support a hybrid work schedule, working at least one day a week remotely and the other days in an office, a recent Bankrate survey of over 2,000 adults in the US found.

Google accused of black worker pay disparities

Online search engine, Google, has stands accused of overseeing an “ongoing pay discrepancy that exists between the black employees and their white counterparts.” Data reportedly obtained from its 2022 pay report suggests black employees earn around $20,000 pa ‘less’ than their while colleagues, and that gender pay gaps also exist across various departments. The document also contains comprehensive data detailing the earnings and bonuses of more than 12,000 US employees, including software engineers, business analysts and sales personnel. The data also showed that tenured staff members draw higher salaries. The highest recorded base salary was attributed to a software engineer at level 7, earning $718,000 in base pay and a total compensation package of nearly $800,000. On the other hand, most software engineers seemed to earn base salaries in the range of $100,000 to $375,000.

Contract negotiations likely to go down to the wire

Today is deadline day for carmaker General Motors to avoid a potentially costly worker strike, with negotiations likely to go down to the wire. Earlier this week it offered a 10% wage rise, plus two additional 3% annual lump-sum payments over four years. But ahead of the September 14 contract expiration date, the head of the United Auto Workers union (AUW), called the offer “insulting.” The UAW has said 97% of members voted in favor of authorizing a strike if agreement is not reached. A union official said Ford is expected to make a new counter-offer on Thursday (today). GM said the wage hike is the largest proposed since 1999. It is also offering a $6,000 one-time inflation-related payment and $5,000 in inflation-protection bonus. GM said that under its offer, current temporary employees will receive a 20% increase to $20 per hour wage and it would shorten the time it takes to get to the maximum wage rate for permanent employees – mirroring proposals from Ford.

HR director resigns citing “defamatory” and hateful targets against him

Adam Westbrook, HR director for the City of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, has sensationally quit, citing “callous” and “deliberately untruthful” accusations from parts of the community. The city is currently being sued by former director of planning and development, Chad Pelishek, who says he was forced to quit because he faced harassment and discrimination as a “white heterosexual male.” In his own resignation email, Westbrook wrote: “Since starting at the City, I have been subject to an onslaught of false, defamatory, and downright hateful statements and accusations coming from a small group of individuals who seem to relish in conspiracy theories, name calling, and trying as hard as they can to rid the City of anyone who doesn’t look, think, or act like them. Whether it is because of my sexual orientation, because I support a diverse workforce, or simply because I was a random chosen target, these individuals are making it extremely difficult for me to successfully continue to do my job,” he said. A community group called “Take Back Sheboygan County” claims the city has a diversity and inclusion “agenda.”

Rise in Covid-19 hospital admissions sparks conversations about a return to mask wearing

A steep rise in Covis-19 related hospital admissions in the US, has prompted new conversations about whether wearing face masks should be reintroduced. According to the most up-to-date figures, there were 17,418 hospital cases across the US in the week beginning 26 August, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall new hospitalizations have jumped 16% in the US over the past week, continuing an upward trend that began in late July. However, in some states (including Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming), new hospital admissions increased by more than 30% over the past week. Some 15 counties were this week branded as having a “high” level of admissions, whereas there were only seven two weeks ago. The highest numbers of new hospitalizations last week per individual person was at 740 in Los Angeles County, California. The highest number of hospital admissions by state, per 100,00, this week was still Florida (11.2) and Hawaii (9.46), which were also the highest on 29 August. Dr Anthony Fauci, the previous chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, told ABC that while he does not believe there will be another face mask mandate, he thinks that recommendations to put a mask on could return this winter in the US due to the increasing Covid-19 spikes.

Amazon accused of illegal confidentiality clauses

Online behemoth, Amazon, has been accused by the US Labor Board of enforcing an unlawful confidentiality clause for workers on its planned drone service. According to the filed complaint, the agreement forbids the disclosure of “business and financial information” as well as details of the company’s “techniques, technology, practices, operations, and methods,” even if the information is not labeled as secret. Amazon is accused of infringing rights granted by federal workplace legislation, as workers’ freedom to discuss their working conditions with one another, with or without a union, is protected under the federal labour legislation. Cheddi Skeete, the former drone project manager who first brought the matter to the NLRB, expressed his concern about how the excessively broad secrecy restrictions prevented workers from networking and job-hunting for fear of upsetting their current employers.

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