Weekly news round-up: from AI to low pay

This week’s HR news round-up covers everything from the dangers of AI in the workplace to low pay in the care sector.

artificial intelligence


Government urged not to delay on potential AI dangers

The Government should not delay in tabling legislation to address the challenges that AI will bring, according to a new Select Committee report.

An interim report by the Science, Innovation and Technology Committee, published this week. sets out  12 essential challenges that AI governance must meet if public safety and confidence in AI are to be secured.These include addressing bias, privacy, misrepresentation, access to data and the existential challenge that some scientists have been talking about. When it comes to employment, the Committee says AI will disrupt the jobs that people do and that are available to be done and policy makers must anticipate and manage that.

The interim report urges greater international cooperation to address the challenges.

Government to bring back EU-derived law on equal pay months after scrapping it

The UK government has announced that it will reinstate equal pay protection for women after an EU law guaranteeing it was scrapped.

The protection – known as the “single source test” rule  – was among some 600 EU laws which the government announced in May that it would scrap by the end of the year in the retained EU law bill. It allows workers to compare their roles to those of colleagues in a different location for the purposes of an equal pay claim if their terms and conditions of employment come from a single source.

The government has now committed to reinstating the right under UK law under secondary legislation. Its Equalities Hub spokesperson stated this week that there will be no reduction in equal pay protections and that new legislation will be laid in Parliament by the end of the year. Labour’s shadow women and equalities secretary, Anneliese Dodds, criticised the government’s U-turn and questioned its commitment to protecting equal pay rights for women.

More employers announce tightening of back to the office rules

HSBC has ordered its 18,500 UK staff to return to the office three days a week starting from October, despite downsizing its London headquarters.

The bank’s previous policy allowed teams to set their own hybrid working policies, but now employees will be required to spend three days a week in the office or with clients.

The move by HSBC follows other companies, including Lloyds Banking Group, JP Morgan, Investec, and BlackRock, all increasing the number of days employees are required to be in the office. Amazon’s chief executive Andy Jassy has also warned staff who work from home that “it’s probably not going to work out”, adding that the company intends to return to demanding that office workers do at least three days a week in the office.  Fellow tech firms Apple, Twitter, Meta and Google-owner Alphabet are all increasing the number of days that employees are expected to attend the office each week.

Meanwhile, KPMG and Deloitte will be returning to traditional in-person interviews this autumn, while EY is looking to follow suit by the end of the year.

Managers more likely to be offered home working perks

While many top-level executives are pushing for more onsite work, they are enjoying a higher degree of flexibility than junior workers, with the majority of their advertised roles labelling either hybrid or remote, according to new research from job search engine Adzuna.

The research analysed jobs advertised on Adzuna between July 2022 and July 2023, tracking the proportion of postings that specify jobs are either ‘remote’, ‘hybrid’ or ‘office-based’/‘on-site’.

It found that seniority plays a crucial role in determining the level of flexibility jobseekers can find during their job search. In July 2023, the office was the most prominent workplace for entry-level to junior-advertised positions, while hybrid working was the most common working style for roles advertising an annual salary of more than £40,000. Particularly, around a quarter of senior roles paying £60k+ (23.4%) to executive level (26.1%) advertised job ads were hybrid.

‘Job dissatisfaction triggers work exodus for over 50s’

Job dissatisfaction was behind many over 50s’ decision to leave the workforce during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new research.

Research by Phoenix Insights analysed annual job satisfaction data from 2009/10 to 2020/21 and found those leaving the workforce in their 50s during the pandemic experienced declining satisfaction in the years running up to their departure, well before state pension age. In contrast, job satisfaction was increasing slightly for those who chose to remain in work.

Phoenix Insights’ polling of 1,000 people over 50 and additional focus group research supported these findings. 59% of people in their 50s said older workers are being left behind by employers, and a further 34% of the same age group who were still working said they were not fulfilled by their job.

Participants in the focus groups said they enjoyed their work earlier in their careers, but experiences in the workplace became increasingly negative with age.

Read more here.

Childcare providers across England struggling to find staff, councils say

Every English region is struggling to recruit childcare workers, according to a new analysis published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Over nine in ten English councils said childcare providers in their area were finding it difficult to recruit suitable workers, while eight in ten described it as “very difficult”.

The TUC found that the East of England, West Midlands, and North East seemed to have particularly severe shortages – 100% of councils in these regions said childcare providers found it “very difficult” to recruit staff with the right skills and experience.

The TUC said low pay was one of the main reasons for the nationwide “staffing crisis”. Almost two-thirds (62%) of childcare assistants and practitioners earn less than £10.90 an hour, according to separate figures published by the union body.

Read more here.

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