UK nears top of European part-time employment list
The UK’s strong employment performance, particularly in the availability of part-time jobs, has been confirmed by a report which places the UK above most other European countries. In a comparative study on employment rates, the European Union statistical agency, Eurostat, said 17.4 per cent of Britons were in part-time employment – a larger proportion than in any other EU country, except The Netherlands (32.8 per cent). Regarding overall employment, a study of 2003 figures found the UK to be fourth best, with 71.8 per cent, behind Sweden, The Netherlands and Denmark (top at 75.1 per cent). The poorest performer was Poland with 51.2 per cent, followed by Malta and Italy.
Saudi Arabia refuses to introduce minimum wage
Saudi Arabia will not implement a minimum wage system, citing human rights perceptions and increases in black-market manpower as reasons. Labour minister Ghazi Al-Gosaibi said a minimum wage to encourage more Saudi nationals to join the private sector “would turn the economy upside down”. He said while minimum wages work in other countries, they are unsuitable for Saudi Arabia where foreign workers outnumber the Saudi workforce by more than five to one. He said a separate wage scale for nationals could be perceived as a violation of human rights. “A minimum (monthly) wage of SR3,000 (£445) would lead to the closure of most factories here,” insisted Gosaibi. He said that a more effective fight against Saudi unemployment was the recent allocation of more than £148m for vocational and technical training. The Saudi Consultative Council is debating new Labour Law, which may include encouraging employers to use more women.
Interview process goes PC in Czech Republic
Under a new law that came into force on 1 October, employers in the Czech Republic are no longer permitted to ask female jobseekers during interviews whether they are pregnant or already have children. They are also not allowed to ask who will take care of their children once the women start work. Companies and institutions in the country will be barred from enquiring about nationality, race, health, sexual orientation, religion, criminal record, trade union membership or political convictions. The interviewers will be entitled to ask such questions only if they can prove that answers are needed for the candidate to do the job well. In all other cases, the applicant may complain first to the Labour Office and then to the Office for Protection of Personal Data, or issue court proceedings.