Deutsche Bank’s announcement earlier this month that it was scaling back its commodities division with the expected loss of around 200 jobs, reminded us all that redundancy season in the City was in full swing.
Traditionally, the season of ‘goodwill to all men’ witnesses big job losses across the City. Cynics claim the timing means employers can escape from paying out end of year bonuses.
Employment law specialists Arpita Dutt and Polly Rodway, of top City solicitors BDBF, offer some seasonal advice and tips if your career in the square mile suddenly comes to an untimely end.
For most of us December, with festivities looming, is the season to be jolly. But for some City workers it can be the season to be job searching.
Sadly, an increasing number of employers see the prospect of New Year as an opportunity to trim the workforce by announcing redundancies.
This tends to happen at this time of year in the City just before bonuses are announced or paid out.
Generally speaking, employees working in Great Britain who have sufficient service (one year if their employment started before 6 April 2012 and two years if their employment started on or after 6 April 2012) can challenge redundancy by way of an unfair dismissal claim.
However, worryingly this right may not apply to employees who are assigned overseas – an increasing trend in global organisations.
So, as it’s the season of goodwill we’ve decided to share our top tips to help you emerge from the redundancy process in as good a shape as possible, even if you are working overseas.
•Do your homework: check what your contract, company policies, and any relevant collective agreement say about redundancy. They might refer to a right to enhanced redundancy pay (over and above statutory entitlement) or fixed procedures. If so, make sure that your employer is doing what they are supposed to do. Also check bonus and share schemes – they might incorporate “good leaver” terms if you are dismissed for redundancy.
•Phone a friend: most employers allow employees to be accompanied at redundancy “at risk” meetings by a colleague or trade union representative. If you aren’t told that you can be accompanied at an “at risk” meeting, ask. Bring along someone you trust and who you can rely on to take a detailed note. This will help you keep an accurate record of the meeting and enables you to properly engage in the consultation process. If your employer’s notes are inconsistent with your own (or your companion’s), ask your employer to put a copy of your notes on file.
•Question time: in order to fairly dismiss for redundancy, your employer should consult with you about the redundancy situation and consider alternative roles. If you have any questions during the consultation process, ask them. Key issues to look for:
- Have you been told why your role is at risk? Does it make sense?
- Have you been told who else is at risk? Has one of your colleagues been “missed out”?
- Do you think that other people should have been included in the pool?
- Do you think that your employer should have considered “bumping” (i.e. removing others from their roles so that you can fill their vacancy)?
- Have you been told about all existing vacancies (including roles that are junior/senior to yours)? Have you been given a fair opportunity to apply for those roles?
- Have you seen the selection criteria for alternative roles? Do you think they are fair?
- Is there a job vacancy that you haven’t been told about?
• It’s a numbers game: if your employer is proposing to make 20 or more employees redundant in a period of 90 days, then they have additional collective consultation obligations. If they fail to comply with these obligations, you may have an additional claim for up to 90 days’ pay. As a result of a recent case, all proposed redundancies across the business (rather than at specific locations) should be counted when determining whether the obligation has been triggered. This means that often the obligation will be triggered without employees knowing about it. If you think this is the case, tell your employer.
• Is there another reason?: employers often view “redundancy” as the easiest way to exit an employee. For that reason, a redundancy process can be used to cloak more sinister acts (even discrimination or repercussions of whistleblowing). If this is the case, you may have additional more valuable claims against your employer beyond a claim of unfair dismissal. If you suspect discrimination or other unlawful acts, or you think that redundancy is being used to “mask” another reason for your exit, make a careful note of anything that is said or done which supports your allegation. This can be used as evidence later down the line.
•Appeal: as part of the redundancy process you should be given a right of appeal. Exercise your right to do so. Make sure your appeal is submitted in time and identifies the specific issues you have with the redundancy process or decision.
The Expatriate Dilemma
A redundancy situation is tough for anyone. However, for employees assigned to work outside of Great Britain, the prospect of job cuts on their return can be even more of a concern as the ability to challenge redundancy by way of an unfair dismissal claim may not be available.
This is because of the limited territorial scope of the legislation which establishes the right to claim unfair dismissal. Generally speaking, under that legislation (and as a result of a chain of cases on the issue) only a limited category of employees working outside of Great Britain will accrue the right to claim unfair dismissal in Great Britain.
For those who don’t fall in specific categories of worker (such as employees working in a territorial political or social enclave or posted overseas for the purpose of a business in Great Britain – e.g. being a foreign correspondent in a newspaper), the employee must show that they have a sufficiently strong connection with Great Britain in order to accrue the right to claim unfair dismissal.
Whether or not there is a sufficiently strong connection between the employee and Great Britain depends on the facts. Relevant issues may include:
- Where the employee calls “home”;
- The currency of their salary/benefits;
- How long they have been outside of Great Britain and how often they return; and
- The jurisdiction in which issues relating to their employment have been handled.
If the employee cannot establish a strong enough connection and doesn’t fall into any of the specific categories, they will not be able to claim unfair dismissal in Great Britain. This means, unless they have accrued rights elsewhere, the options for legal recourse following redundancy are worryingly limited. For that reason, and given the tricky nature of the law in this area, expatriate employees facing (or in fear of facing) redundancy on their return to Great Britain should seek legal advice. Equally, employees being offered an overseas assignment should consider taking pre-emptive advice on their contract to ensure that their rights are protected.
Ahead of expected IPO, Deliveroo recruits Next’s Wolfson to board
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Deliveroo said on Tuesday it has beefed up its board ahead of an expected initial public offering this year with the appointment of Simon Wolfson, the veteran boss of clothing retailer Next, as a non-executive director.
The food delivery company said on Sunday it had raised a further $180 million from existing investors, including minority shareholder Amazon, in a move that values the business at more than $7 billion.
Deliveroo is set to hold an IPO in the coming months, in what would be the biggest new share issue in London for three years.
Wolfson’s appointment comes after Deliveroo named Claudia Arney as the company’s first chair in November.
Deliveroo founder and CEO Will Shu said Wolfson would bring “great knowledge and insight” to the board.
Wolfson has been Next’s CEO since 2001.
He is also a peer of Britain’s ruling Conservative Party, sitting in the upper house of parliament.
(Reporting by James Davey and Paul Sandle; editing by Sarah Young and Pravin Char)
Dollar drops as traders prepare for Yellen to talk up stimulus
By Tommy Wilkes
LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar dropped on Tuesday as investors prepared for U.S. Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen to talk up the need for major fiscal stimulus and commit to a market-determined exchange rate when she testifies later in the day.
The dollar’s fall came after a 2% rise so far in 2021, a gain which caught off guard many investors who had bet on a further decline following its weakness in 2020.
The dollar has been helped in January by rising U.S. Treasury yields and some investor caution about the strength of the global economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. But most analysts are sticking with their calls for a weaker dollar from here.
“On fiscal policy, Yellen is to suggest that the US `act big’ and make use of the low borrowing costs. On the dollar, it should be reiterated that the new administration is committed to the market-determined exchange rate. Both are in line with our weak USD outlook,” ING analysts wrote.
President-elect Joe Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus package.
The Wall Street Journal on Monday reported Yellen, who is appearing before the Senate Finance Committee, will affirm a more conventional commitment to market-set currency rates in her Senate testimony on Tuesday.
That contrasts with outgoing President Donald Trump, who often railed against dollar strength.
The dollar index, which measures the currency against a basket of other currencies, dropped 0.3% to 90.472, but it was still above the its more than two-and-a-half-year low of 89.206 touched at the start of this month.
With the dollar weakening, the euro gained, rising 0.5% to $1.2132.
The single currency was unaffected by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s facing a confidence vote to stay in office. The result vote is due after 1800 GMT.
More volatile and commodity-linked currencies, such as the Australian dollar, also benefited from the weaker U.S. currency, with the Aussie up 0.3% at $0.7707.
Rising commodity prices in recent months have boosted currencies of countries with large commodity exports, such as Australia and Canada.
“We continue to see scope for further gains in commodity-related currencies in the year ahead, which should benefit as well from the strengthening global recovery once vaccines are rolled out more widely,” said Lee Hardman, an analyst at MUFG.
Sterling rose 0.2% to $1.3620.
The dollar rose against the yen and was last up 0.3% to 104.02 yen, although still consolidating in a narrow range after reaching a one-month high of 104.40 last week.
Emerging-market currencies were mostly higher but were some way off recent highs.
(Editing by Gareth Jones, Larry King)
Creating a people-centric workplace centered on flexibility, experience and wellbeing
By Anne Marie Ginn, Head of Video Collaboration, Logitech EMEA
The light is appearing at the end of the long, dark tunnel that has been 2020. With vaccination schemes now underway, we can (albeit cautiously) dare to dream of a general return to relative normality. Yet in the wake of the pandemic, neither our personal liaves nor our work lives will ever be quite the same.
A wholesale change to working practices, and the nature of how and where we work, is set to be one of the big lasting legacies of 2020. Cal Henderson, co-founder of Slack, recently came forward to say he thinks that the age of the office is coming to an end. In a less extreme view, AWS’ CEO Andy Jassy predicts we’ll see the rise of ‘hot offices’, where employees will mostly work remotely, only coming into the office when they need to work on specific projects. And Microsoft founder Bill Gates predicts the age of business travel is over, with only 50% of business trips set to resume.
As the office evolves it’s clear employers will have to adapt their spaces in line with new, post-pandemic wellbeing and workplace trends, and create an office centred around “super experiences” that makes it a destination in itself.
So, in what ways will working practices change, and how do we see the physical workspace evolving?
Re-focussing on the employee
Ultimately, the pandemic has re-focussed the discussion on how employees can best work, and how teams are spending their time. It has also given employers the opportunity to ensure they’re in a better position to help people find a good work life balance.
Yet even after Coronavirus, it’s clear we won’t be working from home forever. The UK government says work from home orders may stay in place until April 2021 and with this in mind a flexible, and hybrid, way of working is set to stay. Employees feel that way too – a recent Simply Communicate survey found only 2% want to go back to the full week in the office.
With the digital tools available and the experience gained over the past 10 months, the idea of everyone being in the office everyday seems old fashioned and unnecessary. People don’t want to travel into an office to then just be sat at their desk for eight hours. What they want is to connect with colleagues, to learn, to be inspired and to share with others.
Whilst getting your head down to work is important, social time and collaboration is equally valued, and central to general wellbeing. For many employees, their work is central to their sense of self, their meaning and purpose, and after a long period of being at home alone, they’ll be yearning for those in-person, face-to-face experiences. This should be placed at the forefront of modern office culture and design.
An office designed for the people working in it
Offices will become destinations unto themselves – for collaboration, innovation and strengthening team relationships – and less about desk-based or task-based work. The space should also be vibrant and different.
These offices should offer a mixture of meeting rooms and open operational space, which will promote gathering for teamwork, collaboration and companywide networking events. At the same time, smaller collaborative working areas, enabled by video, will facilitate break away group work for those both physically present and working remotely. Banks of individual cubicles will disappear, and instead we’ll see occasional, dedicated concentration pods for when employees need to get their heads down between meetings. And how about relaxation pods should employees want a quick break and recharge?
Beyond work, offices also need to become social destinations in themselves. A recent JLL study found that nearly half of employees hope their office will prioritise social spaces, such as coffee areas, lounges or outdoor terraces and gardens. Common areas play a central role in nurturing informal work relationships, which improve development opportunities and help career outlook – especially crucial for people early in their work life. These spaces allow employees to maintain the inspiration, energy and social connection that comes with belonging to a physical team and environment – something which many found a real challenge to maintain virtually during the pandemic.
Flexible schedules and shared spaces will also lead to a “rightsizing” of office space, where organisations will rethink their real estate, in what will undoubtedly save costs. Some are even predicting that we’ll see the creation of an office ‘ecosystem’, which will comprise of employees working from offices, houses, and third places such as cafes, coworking spaces, and libraries.
Tech and video as the glue for hybrid working
While all of the above will support flexibility, functionality and employee wellbeing, for it to all work it needs high-end peripherals, such as Logitech’s MX Series of high-performance mice and keyboards, and collaboration software to pull it together. This tech needs to help us and not take us away from people, helping our collective mental health in environments that could be potentially isolating.
This human centred approach to work collaboration requires non-intrusive, seamless video conferencing and productivity tools. Through each space in the office, from large town hall style areas, through to smaller huddle rooms, personal workspaces and even satellite offices in the suburbs, these video solutions and smart productivity technologies can help to bring together a team as one.
Fortunately, there are a wide variety of high-quality video tools available that can fit the needs of the modern worker within each individual environment. From large 4K cameras with the ability to pan, tilt and zoom to focus on an individual speaking within a large room, to wide angled huddle room cameras for smaller groups, and webcams with integrated high-quality microphones and optics to make sure remote workers are seen and heard just as clearly as if they were physically in the office.
The hybrid opportunity
The hybrid office presents itself with an opportunity to make work better for employees, while creating a more committed and motivated workforce. There’s also potential to save money through reduced office related overheads.
Tied together by smart technologies such as video, this hybrid office has the potential to make employees happier, more motivated and equipped to do their best work. Video will pivot from being the technology we used to survive during the pandemic to the one we use to thrive.
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