International news: Changing technology spells end of premium pay

Temporary pay given to highly-skilled IT staff end up as expensive, permanent pay rises. This is because HR and managers baulk at telling employees that these short-term pay hikes are ending. A survey of delegates at a World at Work conference in the US found that 72 per cent of respondents said that they did not stop premium pay – which was intended to end when the employees’ key skills were less important – as technology changed. Of those that did end premium pay rates, many made the temporary pay increases permanent. Forty-three per cent said they rolled the premium pay amounts into the employees’ base pay and bonuses when the premium pay ended, said John Davis, compensation consultant for Hewitt Associates.


Average working week tops 38 hours in Europe


The average working week across the European Union was 38.6 hours last year, according to European Industrial Relations Observatory on-line. The highest average number of agreed hours was 40 in Greece, Luxembourg and Sweden, and the lowest was 37 in Denmark and the Netherlands. EIRO’s annual report shows that staff in the banking sector work fewer hours per week than employees in local government. But it points out the difficulties in making international comparisons on the length of working weeks. Comparable data is not collected in all countries, while particular problems include different ways of calculating working time, with annual, rather than weekly calculation.

www.eiro.eurofound.ie


Two-thirds fail to answer dismissal referendum


Italian referendums questioning the public on individual dismissals and the collection of trade union fees failed because only a third of the electorate went to the polls last week. The public was asked if they wanted to prevent workers being reinstated after unlawful individual dismissals and if they wanted to abolish the trade union membership dues which are deducted by two welfare organisations. These institutes cover social security and compulsory insurance against workplace accidents and occupational illnesses. A turnout of more than 50 per cent was needed to make the referendums valid.

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