Pandemic has accelerated digital upskilling, but key groups still miss out

A new survey of 32,500 workers in 19 countries paints a picture of a global workforce that sees the shift to remote working as just the tip of the iceberg. Reflecting the fact the pandemic has accelerated a number of workforce trends, 60% are worried that automation is putting many jobs at risk; 48% believe ‘traditional employment won’t be around in the future’ and 39% think it is likely that their job will be obsolete within 5 years.

However, this is not a counsel of despair, as 40% of workers say their digital skills have been improved through the prolonged period of lockdown, and claim they’ll continue to embrace training and skill development. 77% are ‘ready to learn new skills or completely re-train’ and 74% see training as a matter of personal responsibility. And, 80% are confident they can adapt to new technologies entering their workplace, with a large majority of those asked in India (69%) and in South Africa (66%) saying they are ‘very’ confident.

In addition, 49% of respondents are focused on building entrepreneurial skills with an interest in setting up their own business.

Half of workforce report missing out on career opportunities or training due to prejudice

The survey also found that 50% of workers say they’ve faced discrimination at work which led to them missing out on career advancement or training. 13% report missing out on opportunities as a result of ethnicity and 14% of workers have experienced discrimination on the grounds of gender, with women twice as likely to report gender discrimination as men. 13% report discrimination on the basis of class, with post-graduates and others with higher qualifications more likely to report prejudice. Younger people are as likely as older people to report discrimination based on age.

On top of that, the survey found there are disparities in access to upskilling opportunities. While 46% of people with postgraduate degrees say their employer gives them many opportunities to improve their digital skills, just 28% of people with school-leaver qualifications say the same. Industries like retail or transport, which are most at risk of disruption, score just 25% and 20% respectively; while banking scores 42%.

“If current patterns in access to training persist, upskilling will increase social inequality when it should be doing precisely the opposite,” said Bhushan Sethi, Joint Global Leader of PwC’s People and Organisation Practice. “Government and business leaders need to work together to intensify efforts to ensure people in the most-at risk industries and groups get the opportunities they need. Automation and technological disruption are inevitable, but we can control whether its negative effects are managed or not.”

Younger people more focused on maximising income than ‘making a difference’ if forced to choose

Three-quarters of workers globally (75%) say they want to work for an organisation that will make a ‘positive contribution to society.’ This feeling was especially acute in China (87%), India (90%), and South Africa (90%).

However, economic insecurity is limiting people’s ability to pursue purpose driven careers, with younger people particularly affected. Overall, 54% of those polled said, if forced to choose, they would prefer a job that enabled them to ‘take every opportunity to maximise their income’ over a job that ‘makes a difference’ (46%).

Interestingly, those between 18 and 34 are more likely than other generations to prioritise income over purpose in their job with 57% prioritising ‘maximising their income’ over ‘making a difference’ (43%), a margin of 14 points. Those over 55 prioritise making a difference by a margin of 8 points, which rises to 22 points amongst workers over 65.

“As the world continues to grapple with a global health crisis and economic uncertainty, we’ve seen workers come to demand more from the business community, expecting their employers to make a positive contribution to society,” said Peter Brown, Joint Global Leader of PwC’s People and Organisation Practice. “Fortunately, focusing on societal impact and maximising profit are not mutually exclusive, and being a purpose-led business can actually help boost your bottom line.”

Employees want the option to work remotely moving forward

The survey concludes that remote working will persist post-lockdown. Of those who can work remotely, 72% of say they prefer a mixture of in-person and remote working, with only 9% stating they’d like to go back to their traditional work environment full-time. This is particularly true of professionals, office workers, business owners and the self-employed, all of whom are able to perform their jobs remotely using technology. Home working need not be limited to professional jobs. 43% of manual workers and 45% of semi-skilled workers say there are many elements of their job that they are able to do remotely.

People’s attitudes to working from home also change by location, providing further evidence of how the pandemic has increased the global digital divide. Workers in metropolitan areas (66%) are more likely to work in roles that could allow remote working than those who live in rural areas (44%).

Workers torn on privacy and technology

44% of workers globally would agree to let their employer use technology to monitor their performance at work including sensors and wearable devices, with 31% against. However, many would not go as far as allowing their employers access to their personal data. 41% of respondents said that they were unwilling to give their employer access to their personal data including social media profiles, with only 35% willing.

The LGPD and labour relations in Brazil

Non-observance of the LGPD (General Data Protection Law) will give rise to administrative sanctions imposed by the National Data Protection Authority as from August 2021, as determined by article 20 of Law 14.010, which modified the text of article 65 of Law 13.079.

In spite of this, many authorities are already imposing or seeking to impose penalties for failure to comply with the LGPD and are taking court action in this respect. Moreover, there is nothing to prevent data subjects from claiming compensation in court, as well as coercive measures to enforce compliance with the LGPD.

In the context of labour relations, the LGPD is firmly present in the three stages (pre-contractual, contractual and post-contractual), although there are no specific regulations in this respect. Apart from the direct relationship between the company, the candidates for job vacancies offered and its own employees, the LGPD is also present in relations with the employees of outsourced companies.

For the reasons set out in the preceding paragraph, companies must adapt as soon as possible, creating procedures and policies, adjusting their work contracts and agreements for services with independent contractors, training and instructing their work force regarding the law and the care necessary in the treatment of data, thereby avoiding the formation of administrative and judicial liability and the exposure of their name, brand and reputation.

At the pre-contract stage, companies will have to adjust their recruitment and selection processes, deciding whether resumes not used are to be discarded or kept in their database for future vacancies, obtaining, in the latter case, the express consent of the candidate to do so. The companies must also consider that the recruitment and selection processes may be subject to investigation by the competent authorities and/or judicial discussion by these same persons or by the candidate himself, and, in this respect, the treatment of candidates’ data may constitute evidence for their defence, the regular exercise of rights.

In the course of the employment relationship, the applicability of the LGPD is vast, since the employer is obliged to provide personal as well as sensitive data of its employees in order to comply with legal obligations, such as for the E-social, for the DCTFWeb, for the CAT, for the obligatory Occupational Health and Safety Programmes, for the labour inspectors of the Special Secretariat of Social Security and Labour and of the Federal Revenue, unions and class entities, among others.

The employer uses the data of its employees, also, in order to comply with contractual obligations, such as for the provision of benefits, health and life insurance, agreements in general with other companies etc., constituting, therefore, the regular exercise of rights, which strictly exempts it from obtaining the express consent of the employee, provided of course that such benefits are in the latter’s interests or result from a regulatory provision.

The employer may also be obliged to use such data in administrative or judicial proceedings, as determined by the supervisory body or judge, in which case authorisation to supply such information from the employee is not required, since this undoubtedly constitutes a regular exercise of a right.

In the event of an occupational accident or health problems that justify the adoption of measures by the employer for the protection of the life and physical safety of the data subject, in this case, the employee, the company will also have to use his data.

It is essential to mention, if only briefly, the matter of the employee’s consent, since a trend of opinion has already been formed on this point, not only in Brazil, but also abroad, to the effect that it is inapplicable, as a rule, to employment relationships, given the worker’s situation of “hypo-sufficiency” (the weaker party). On this subject, we will express our views in further detail in a future article.

On termination of the employment, the employer should, strictly speaking, eliminate the personal data of its employee, since their purpose has been achieved or they are no longer necessary. However, considering that many of these data may be subject to analysis by the Brazilian authorities and/or constitute evidence in legal proceedings that may be brought against the company, including by the employee himself, they may be stored, for compliance with legal obligations or the regular exercise of rights, for the period in which they may be required; these are situations that, we repeat, do not require consent of the data subject.

The retention period could, in principle, be standardised according to the two-year and five-year limitation periods that apply to the employment relationship. However, there are situations that may exceed these periods, such as cases of accidents at work (including professional and occupational diseases) and death of a worker leaving minor heirs, matters which should be considered when the employer sets the parameters for the storage and destruction of data.

These are the initial observations of our labour team regarding the impact of the LGPD on labour relations. We will continue to produce material on the subject, as there will be many challenges to be faced in the near future.

Maria Lúcia Menezes Gadotti
Partner in Labour Law Area – São Paulo
[email protected]

Pinsent Masons named a top ten family friendly employer

Multinational law firm Pinsent Masons has been named as one of the top ten family friendly employers in the UK by work life balance charity, Working Families.

It is the fourth year in a row that Pinsent Masons has been listed in the top ten, after securing a top ten place for the first time in 2017.

Work life balance charity, Working Families, benchmarks organisations across the UK that lead the way in building family friendly and flexible workplaces. Public, private and third sector businesses compete annually to gain a place on the list.

“Being named a top ten family friendly employer by Working families for the fourth year in a row is testament to the firm’s commitment to providing a working environment and practices that are conducive to working parents and carers.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic seeing the majority of our people working from home and adapting to this, our working parents and carers have also had the additional challenge of looking after and, in some cases, educating their children too. Our ability to exercise our agile and flexible approach has never been more important but we recognise that this is a journey and there is more work to be done.” Kate Fergusson, Head of Responsible Business

Central to this has been the firm’s focus on agile working, enabling employees to flex their time to accommodate for family commitments when needed, which has been particularly vital during lockdown. In addition, they encourage and promote shared parental leave and use some of their male lawyers as role models for this.

Over the last year, the firm has worked closely with their Family Support Network and Mental Health Champions to run an extensive programme to help working parents and carers support their children’s mental health. In addition, throughout the COVID-19 lockdown they have provided webinars and additional support around the mental health and wellbeing challenges faced by their people.

The firm is now focused on how best to supporting working parents and carers as people begin to return to offices and children return to school.

Research finds only 21% of applicants for top roles were women

Women made up just 21% of employees being put forward for senior roles at financial services firms last year, compared to 79% who were men, says Pinsent Masons, the multinational law firm.

Pinsent Masons says the limited number of women taking senior management roles shows there has been little progress in hiring and promoting more women at senior levels within financial services. This is despite the broad consensus about the importance of improving gender diversity in financial services.

A review of 4,044 individuals taking up senior roles at financial services firms last year (year-end March 31) shows that approximately 833 were women and 3,211 were men. This data refers to all financial services firms, including banks, insurers, fund managers, hedge funds and private equity funds.

Elizabeth Budd, Partner at Pinsent Masons, says: “More and more financial services firms are taking steps to improve gender diversity at top levels but the pace of change is still very slow.”

“Given the attention that gender diversity has been given in recent years, I expect many firms will be disappointed that this is not being reflected in the number of women put forward for senior roles.”

One of the reasons often given for the low number of women in senior roles in financial services is that the industry is less friendly towards women who wish to work more flexible hours, or from home, due to childcare requirements.

Commenting on this, Elizabeth Budd said: “The coronavirus crisis has upended working practices, organisational and operational structures. As a result, women will be hoping that City employers are going to be much more receptive to flexible working requests and this won’t be used as an excuse for the low levels of women at senior levels.”

Pinsent Masons adds that firms need to be committed to making the cultural changes that allow for women to excel in financial services. A growing number of firms are signing up to the Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter in order to deliver these cultural changes.

Signatories of the Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter pledge to do the following:

  • Have a senior executive personally responsible for diversity and inclusion
  • Set internal targets for senior-level gender diversity
  • Publish progress against these targets annually
  • Have an intention to ensure the pay of senior executives is tied to progress against these targets

A recent analysis of 187 Women in Finance signatories found 64% had increased the proportion of women in senior roles last year while 12% had maintained the same level of representation.

Previous research from Pinsent Masons showed that in 2018/19 women represented 26% of individuals put forward for senior roles, compared to 71% for men. However, this year’s figures are not directly comparable as the latest figures includes d data on a wider range of financial services businesses.

Slaughter and May is a Top 75 employer for social mobility

Slaughter and May, the international law firm, has today been ranked as one of the Top 75 employers in the Social Mobility Employer Index 2019.

The Top 75 UK employers who have taken the most action to improve social mobility in the workplace are announced today in what is believed to be the world’s only Social Mobility Employer Index.

The Index is the creation of the Social Mobility Foundation and ranks employers on the actions they are taking to ensure they are open to accessing and progressing talent from all class backgrounds.

Employers are assessed on everything from the work they do with young people, to their recruitment and selection processes and how people from lower income backgrounds progress up the ladder within their organisations.

125 employers from 18 sectors, who collectively employ over 1.1 million people in the UK, answered around 100 questions across 7 different areas. Over 14,000 employees also took part in a voluntary employee survey.

Slaughter and May has been ranked 40th in this Year’s Top 75 employers, improving on its ranking in 2018 which saw it reach 45th place.

Measures taken by the firm to improve social mobility include:

  • the launch in 2019 of the Law Springboard programme in partnership with upReach, which is designed to improve access to the legal sector for high potential undergraduates from less-advantaged backgrounds;
  • the launch of Lead in to Law, in partnership with London-based diversity specialist company, Rare in September 2019. This two year development programme is aimed at supporting Year 12 and Year 13 students from socially diverse backgrounds who are interested in a legal career;
  • being a founding member of The Social Mobility Business Partnership, formerly the Legal Social Mobility Partnership – a charity dedicated to supporting students from low income backgrounds;
  • a partnership with Central Foundation Boys’ School and education charity The Access Project to support motivated students from less-privileged backgrounds win places at top universities;
  • sponsoring Rare Discuss, an exclusive training programme for university students from less-advantaged backgrounds who are interested in pursuing a career in law; and
  • being one of the first firms in the City to implement a contextual recruitment system to identify candidates with the greatest potential.

Slaughter and May’s success in the Index is announced today at a launch event at the Francis Crick Institute.

Nilufer von Bismarck, Partner, said: “Social mobility is important to the firm. Last year we made a commitment to build on our existing initiatives and have since launched a number of new partnerships and programmes in order to create a pipeline for socially diverse talent from school-aged students to our recruitment activities, as well as deeper analysis of our recruitment and retention data.”

David Johnston OBE, chief executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, said: “We are delighted to see more and more employers every year taking part in our Social Mobility Employer Index. The quality of submissions this year meant we have increased the size of our Top list from 50 to 75 and it shows the very wide range of organisations trying to make progress on social mobility. Whilst no employer would say they have cracked their social mobility challenge, all of the employers in the Top list – along with those that didn’t quite make it – should be congratulated for the efforts they’re making to ensure their organisation is open to talent from all class backgrounds.”

The Rt Hon Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Foundation, added: “Social mobility is becoming a cause for more and more of our country’s top employers. When politics is weak, society needs to be strong – so it is welcome a growing number of employers are stepping up to the plate. They recognise the need to open their doors to a wider pool of talent both to address growing public concerns about unfairness and to reap the business benefits from having more diverse workforces. The onus is now on all of our country’s top employers to do the same.”

Kim Askew joins DLA Piper’s Employment practice in Dallas

DLA Piper announced today that Kim Askew has joined the firm’s Employment practice as a partner in the Dallas office.

Askew represents clients in significant employment matters involving claims of race, disability, gender and age discrimination and sexual harassment, as well as in complex commercial disputes including business torts, trade secrets, non-compete, and non-solicitation and employment agreements.

“Kim is widely regarded as one of the top employment and commercial litigators in Texas, and her addition to the firm bolsters our Employment team and supports our goal of bringing on partners with deep experience in handling high-profile matters of consequence, together with a strong track record of professionalism and success,” said Brian Kaplan, chair of DLA Piper’s US Employment practice and co-chair of the global Employment practice. “She has been recognised repeatedly for her accomplishments and distinguished service to the legal profession and we couldn’t be happier that Kim has chosen to join our team.”

“As we continue to expand our presence in Dallas, Kim will play a key role in allowing us to increase our service offerings and better respond to the needs of clients,” said Marc Katz, managing partner of the firm’s Dallas office. “She is well-known as an involved and enthusiastic leader in the legal and business communities in Dallas, and we are thrilled to welcome her on board.”

Askew, who joins from K&L Gates, received her J.D. from Georgetown University and her B.A. from Knoxville College. She is the recipient of dozens of local, regional and national awards for her achievements and contributions, including her groundbreaking work on diversity, from organisations such as the American Bar Association, State Bar of Texas, Dallas Bar Association, Dallas Women’s Foundation, the American Inns of Court, Texas Lawyer, D Magazine (Dallas 500), Lawdragon 500 and Best Lawyers in America.