Return to office is ‘racist’ say Apple employees
A furious group of 200 Apple employees – part of a newly-formed group, ‘Apple Together’ – have written to CEO Tim Cook branding calls to return to the office as racist. It argues a shift back to an in-person model will make the company ‘younger, whiter, [and] more male-dominated’. It claimed the model would change the composition of the company in favor of those who can afford to locate nearby, thus excluding talent that cannot so easily commute or afford to live in its catchment area. The open letter said: “Our vision of the future of work is growing further and further apart from that of the executive team.” The letter comes in response to Cook recently telling staffers they would need to work from the office one day a week starting on April 11, rising to two days per week after three weeks, and three days per week after May 23. The letter added: “[returning to the office] will lead to privileges deciding who can work for Apple, not who’d be the best fit; privileges like being born in the right place so you don’t have to relocate.”
Amazon to reimburse employees’ travel costs for abortions
Amazon is pledging to pay back any travel expenses staff incur to access a range of non-life threatening medical treatments – including abortion. Amazon will reimburse costs of up to $4,000 for procedures that include everything from cardiology, cellular gene therapies and substance-abuse disorder services if they are not available within 100 miles of where an employee lives. Although a range of different medical procedures are covered, the announcement has caught particular attention because it also covers abortions at a time when numerous restrictive abortion laws are sweeping across the U.S. It also comes as a leaked document suggests the Supreme Court is considering rolling back more than 50 years of abortion rights. The decision makes the online retailer the latest company, after Citigroup and Yelp, to have pledged to help employees bypass Republican-backed state laws curbing abortion access.
New data reveals the cities with the highest return to office rates
While individual firms, like Apple, are battling to get their staff to return to the office, new data from Kastle reveals which U.S cities have so-far been the most successful in persuading staff back. For the week-ending 20th April, the top city was Austin, Texas, with buildings at 59% occupancy. It was followed by two other Texas cities – Houston and Dallas – both of which have the next highest rates of office attendance, at around 50%. By comparison, office buildings in New York City were at just 33% occupancy during the same period. San Jose, California had the lowest rate of any city Kastle measured, at just 31% during the same time. Nationwide, offices in the 10 largest U.S. cities with buildings tracked by Kastle are hovering around 40% occupancy. Kastle’s data does not include government building occupancy.
Most US employees think a four-day week would banish burnout
More than two-thirds (67%) of staff agree that a four-day week would alleviate burnout, according to a poll by Eagle Hill Consulting. Reported in Benefits Canada, the research finds that of the 1,000 employees polled, nearly half (49%) said they’re feeling burnt out, with younger workers (53%) and women (52%) feeling the most strain, followed by respondents aged 55 and older (48%) and mid-career workers aged 35 to 54 (47%). Actions that respondents said could alleviate their stress included increased flexibility (64%), decreased workload (62%), better health and wellness (57%), and working from home (51%). Nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents said staffing shortages were contributing to employee burnout with the percentage being higher among women (69%) and younger workers (66%).
LinkedIn to pay $1.8 million to employees in gender discrimination case
Social media giant, LinkedIn. has agreed to settle in a case where 686 female employees alleged it had failed to provide equal pay to those in its engineering and marketing job-family. In announcing the settlement, the US Department of Labor said LinkedIn would pay $1.8 million in back-wages and interest to the affected workers as well as implement staff training to ensure compliance with LinkedIn’s non-discrimination obligations. Lastly, it said LinkedIn would also evaluate (for the next three years), whether the company’s compensation is gender neutral and make salary adjustments if it is found not to be so.
Unemployment is at a 54-year low
The percentage of Americans who are unemployed is now at a 54-year low of 3.5% according to new a poll of economists from the Wall Street Journal. All-told there were 601,000 new jobs created in the first four months of the year, meaning the US is now at just 1.2 million jobs fewer than its pre-Coronavirus peak of 152.2 million. If unemployment continues to improve, and ticks down to below 3.4%, then the proportion of people out of work would be at its lowest since 1953. Because of the shortage of talent, the data also shows employees are enjoying the biggest wage gains in four decades, with average pay having shot up by 5.6% over the past year to $31.73 an hour. The share of the working-age population in the labor force rose in March to a pandemic peak of 62.4%, but it is still one point below the pre-Covid high.
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Biden to let immigrants stay longer
The Biden administration has announced that certain categories of immigrants, including those seeking green cards and spouses of H-1B visa holders, will be allowed to use their expired work permits for a further 18 months. In doing so this news is likely to come as a relief to employers dealing with acute skills shortages. The H-1B visa allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specific occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. More often than not technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China. A department of homeland security spokesperson said: “This temporary rule will provide those non-citizens, otherwise eligible for the automatic extension, an opportunity to maintain employment and provide critical support for their families, while avoiding further disruption for US employers.”