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Jan 13, 2023
This article is part of a series called The Most Interesting HR Stories of the Week.

Walmart employee able to retire after TikTok fame

Butch Marion, an 82-year old ex-Navy veteran, has been able to retire, after a video of him ringing up items in the Walmart store he worked in helped raise more than $100,000 on a funding website. Rory McCarty, who owns a bug extermination business, posted the video of Marion and put it on TikTok. The video was seen more than 2 million times and a GoFundMe page was formed to raise money for Marion, which amassed $108,000 in just a matter of days. All of the money has now been presented to Marion, who says he can now pay off bills and travel to Florida to see his daughters and grandchildren. McCarty had previously seen a TikTok video of an elderly female Walmart employee bagging up groceries, which then raised money for her. McCarty decided he should do the same.

Call to ban non-compete clauses from US employment contracts

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly consulting on a proposal that would declare the use of so-called non-compete clauses as “an unfair method of competition.” According to the FTC, the proposed rule would “provide that it is an unfair method of competition for an employer to enter into or attempt to enter into a non-compete clause with a worker.” It is estimated that around one-in-five (or around 30 million), workers have non-complete clauses imposed on them, and the FTC says it now wants to recognize growing evidence that suggests that these agreements dampen US workers’ collective income by between $250 billion and $296bn per year. It says: “In the Commission’s view, the existing legal frameworks governing non-compete clauses – formed decades ago, without the benefit of this evidence – allow serious anti-competitive harm to labor, product, and service markets to go unchecked.” The FTC’s action follows an executive order by US president Joe Biden in 2021 which encouraged the regulator to consider developing rules to “curtail the unfair use of non-compete clauses,” along with “other clauses or agreements that may unfairly limit worker mobility.”

Microsoft to stop tracking vacation time

Staff at IT giant, Microsoft, have been informed by the company that it is transitioning towards a ‘Discretionary Time Off’ (or DTO), policy, and as such, it will no longer be tracking vacation time for US salaried staff, starting next week. In a memo seen by Insider, a Microsoft spokesperson said: “You will no longer formally record your vacation time. How, when, and where we do our jobs has dramatically changed. And as we’ve transformed, modernizing our vacation policy to a more flexible model was a natural next step.” It added: “DTO aligns with more flexible ways of working.” Time-off will still require manager approval, as is standard for companies with “unlimited’ vacation time, but in addition to the unlimited time off policy, salaried US employees will also get ten corporate holidays off, can take leaves of absence, and have other days off for illness and mental health, jury duty, and bereavement.

Laid off Twitter staff not getting the severance they were promised

The one crumb of solace for Twitter employees told they were going to be laid off was the promise by Elon Musk that they would at least get “three months of severance compensation.” But, according to reports in Fortune and Yahoo! Finance, it seems that some employees are only getting one months’ worth of severance pay. Moreover, it seems employees will not be receiving their prorated performance bonuses either. This is according to Twitter’s own severance material viewed by Fortune. “I mean I expected him to f**k us (and he did),” an impacted employee wrote to Fortune. “This is about 1/3 of what he contractually owes us based on his purchase agreement.” Outlets report that severance agreements are being sent out by a third-party service provider, called CPT Group, in lieu of in-house HR services. A downloadable “Additional FAQs” document appears to confirm that staff will not receive performance bonus payments, which were set to be paid out in March. It adds there will be “no negotiation of the agreement or the severance amount listed.”

Ex-McDonals’s boss fined over employee relationship cover-up

Steve Easterbrook, who was sacked in 2019, after directors discovered he’d been having a secret relationship with a senior female colleague, has this week been fined $400,000 for “concealing the extent of his misconduct.” The US Securities and Exchange Commission concluded Easterbrook had made “false and misleading statements to investors about the circumstances leading to his termination,” and as such should not have walked away with the $40 million separation agreement he did when he exited the company. Gurbir Grewal, the director of the SEC’s division of enforcement, said: “By allegedly concealing the extent of his misconduct during the company’s internal investigation, Easterbrook broke that trust with – and ultimately misled – shareholders.” Grewal added: “When corporate officers corrupt internal processes to manage their personal reputations or line their own pockets, they breach their fundamental duties to shareholders, who are entitled to transparency and fair dealing from executives.”

A third of staff want more responsibility in 2023

In a finding which may prove ‘quiet quitting’ is officially dead, new data reveals nearly a third (33%) of workers actually want to take on more responsibility in their role this coming year. The findings, revealed by Offsyte, potentially reflect the fact employees are feeling less secure in their jobs right now, and see taking on more duties as a way of protecting it. But they also want employers to be part of the deal too. Some 42% of workers polled felt managers didn’t listen to their concerns. This perception was even higher amongst those who work on-site, with 46% saying their concerns were ignored, compared with 38% of remote workers and 37% of hybrid workers. Younger workers, in particular, said they wanted better communication, with 54% of employees aged 18 to 34 saying they hoped their employers would be more transparent in 2023. “I think they just are looking for ways and instructions from employers to teach them and guide them on how to build relationships with their co-workers,” said Emma Guo, Offsyte’s co-founder and CEO.

US added 223,000 jobs in December, stats reveal

While all the talk might still be about layoffs, latest data has revealed that nearly a quarter of a million new jobs were added in December 2022 – some 223,000 according to the Labor Department. The additions mean the nation’s unemployment rate fell slightly to 3.5%, returning to its early 2020 level. Joblessness hasn’t been this low since 1969. Commenting on the data, Chris Varvares, co-head of US economics at S&P Global Market. Intelligence, said: “If the US economy is slipping into recession, nobody told the labour market.” But other experts are divided about what the data really means. For instance, although the gain was within expectations, the number of new jobs added was also the smallest since President Biden took office. The Fed also predicts that as companies cut back due to its interest rate increases, the already extremely low unemployment rate will rise to about 4.6% by the end of this year. The year-end results show that all told, 4.5 million jobs were created in America in 2022.


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