Global HR Round-up

US employers discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation

Nearly 20% of US workers believe they have been passed over for promotion because of their sexual orientation, according to research. The study by gay rights group Lambda asked more than 1,200 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender US employees about their work environment. More than half (54%) said gay-friendly, non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies were critical to their decisions about where to work. There is no federal law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and only 16 states have laws to prevent this discrimination in the workplace, says Lambda. Fast food outlet Wendy’s is the latest US company to introduce a non-discrimination policy. The move came after Wendy’s was put under pressure from gay civil rights group, the Equality Project, and the company’s largest shareholder.

TV ads to ease problem of US’ ageing civil service workforce

The US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is launching a TV advertising campaign to showcase civil service jobs to tackle concerns about an ageing workforce. The 30-second ads feature employees from diverse departments reminding viewers how public service can improve the lives of citizens. There is a particular shortage of people with language skills such as Arabic, Chinese, Hindi and Korean. More than one million employees – 60% of the US civil service – are eligible to retire in the next decade. The OPM oversees government-wide personnel policies and benefits, and wants to retain experienced employees to help smooth the transition. A new government proposal would allow workers to stay in their jobs while receiving their pensions without penalty. The agency is also looking to speed up hiring.

European court rules supplier blacklist over tax is legal

Companies working for public sector organisations within the European Union (EU) can legitimately have contracts denied or blocked if they are behind in tax or social security payments, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled. In a landmark case, judges ruled that such national or local government bans complied with the European public services directive. The case focused on the Italian Ministry of Defence’s refusal to accept tenders for catering work, due to tax arrears of supplier Zilch, and social contributions by catering firms La Cascina and GfM. All three companies then unsuccessfully challenged the legality of this decision under EU law. However, the ECJ said the law permitted national leeway over setting deadlines for tax or social security contribution payments before a taxpayer could be accused of “not fulfilling obligations”.

New mothers are best off in Denmark or Norway

Denmark and Norway have the best maternity benefits in western Europe – more than twice as generous as those in the UK. A study by Mercer Human Resource Consulting covered 13 European countries with comparisons based on statutory pay built up over six months’ maternity leave. For women earning about 15,000 a year, the total pay accumulated after six months’ maternity leave in Denmark and Norway would be as much as 7,700. In the UK it would be just 3,700 and in Ireland 4,100. Entitlements in Germany would also be relatively low, at 4,150, along with those in France, Spain and the Netherlands, all at 4,750. Mark Sullivan, worldwide partner at Mercer, said: “While many aspects of employment law are becoming more standardised across Europe, large discrepancies persist in the area of maternity benefits.”

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