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Tips for HR to Maintain an Employee Handbook while Working Remotely

Remote working is an employment arrangement in which employees do not commute to a central place of work. The cornerstone of communication for HR departments is their employee handbook. Outdated policies not only cause confusion among the employees but also puts the company at jeopardy for several lawsuits.

Therefore, it is really important for businesses to review their employee handbook twice a year as a policy as well as revise it every time a new law concerning the employees is introduced. E.g. the recent pandemic has raised serious questions about several compliance policies in companies and to remain clear HR needs to add and subtract several things to this corporate policy document.

Here are 4 tips to keep your employee handbook up to date while we have all started working remotely:

1. Remote Working Policies

As the entire world was forced to shift to remote working, a lot of employees complained that remote working meant they had to be available 24/7 or that their families might be close by when they are taking important work calls. To deal with such things, HR has to upgrade their company privacy policies as well as the timings of employees as well. Having access to the internet all the time should translate into working anytime and every time, especially when it comes to remote working parents, or people who have sick relatives at home etc, they should be given the flexibility of when they want to work or whether they want to work task based or time based etc.

2. New Tools For Communication

Employees who are remote can communicate via calls or SMS all the time, SaaS tools for communication such as slack should be introduced throughout the organisation to make communication easier. Some organisations do use tools like skype but skype does not offer a full range of apps it can connect to such as slack. Introducing new policies to communicate at appropriate timings and on appropriate channels according to the company need to be added to the upgraded employee manuals.

Some policies on accessing company documents and other data through your personal laptops or work laptops should also be in place to avoid data leakage. These policies are to upgraded in the document as well as communicated to the entire company over email or a short meeting

3. New Applicable Laws

New laws regarding employee welfare, different businesses, taxes etc are being introduced all the time. One of the most tedious responsibilities of an HR person is to be on the lookout for these and then after documenting the laws into the handbook, explain them to the employees too. To avoid expensive litigation, federal and local law compliance is of vital importance.

We recommend keeping your employee handbook handy in a word or google doc file and keep updating the chances as they come to you. HR is recommended to convert these policy upgrade meetings into a fun presentation or a 15-20 minute training so that its can become fun for both the parties.

4. Pandemic Contingency Plan

The covid-19 pandemic brought the remote work wave with it. A Lot of people loved working remotely but many questions arose with this plan. Such as what would the company do if another pandemic is to show up ? Would the employees be let go ? How can you make business digital if you were to lose your physical location tomorrow? How will the aggrieved employees who were let go be compensated and several other questions.

We recommend HR needs to ask the employees to send their questions that were looming in their thoughts during the pandemic and devise policies to answer those questions for the future. An entire pandemic contingency plan section should be a part of all the employee handbooks from 2020 onwards.

Whether you are starting from scratch or just upgrading the previous handbook, the two important steps include taking feedback from employees and keeping your handbook up to date according to the employee issues as well as the law. Let us know what interesting policies your company came up with to help their employees.

How to Get Started With Jewellery Making In The 21st Century

Interested in jewellery making? Having a hobby is vital for our wellbeing. Many of us work and are constantly burdened by the many responsibilities of life. This is why you must find the right activity to do outside of your chores and routine that you thoroughly enjoy.

Although people take up hobbies solely for fun, it is possible for some of them to build and start to make a profit and be an additional source of income.

The difficulties faced in the last year due to the global pandemic, has seen a surge in unemployment as well as people being stuck at home with nothing to do. This has led many individuals to try new activities, and even try to make money from home. Jewellery making is a good example of a hobby many people choose and may result in being a way to make extra cash, whether you are unemployed or do this as a side hustle. You may think that making jewellery is difficult but everyone can do this.

This article will explore how to get started with jewellery making in the 21st century.

Decide What Type of Jewellery Interests You

Making jewellery can be great fun, however, when you first start, it can also be somewhat overwhelming due to the wide range of choices you have. It would be unrealistic to focus on everything at the same time, particularly as a beginner, as you do not necessarily know what you are doing. Research a few different types of jewellery and pick one that seems easiest to get you started. Choosing something that is overly difficult may stop your motivation to continue with the hobby.

Improve a Few Essential Skills

When you start making your own jewellery, you may realise that there are a few important skills that you should master before you want to master this. You should not expect to be the best jewellery maker from day one and remember that practice makes perfect. The more you continue practicing and trying, the better you will become eventually. It may be a good idea to take a few classes so learn these skills and improve your overall technique rather than trying to do it alone. You may look for classes in your local area as surely there will be something available. On the other hand, you can research videos and expert blogs on the internet.

Invest in Quality Tools

Once you get started in jewellery making, you may make due with whatever tools you have around your home. Although you will quickly realise that this may not allow you to create high quality items. If you are simply doing this for fun, this is okay but if you want to improve and make items that look professional. In the 21st century, you have a range of equipment, tools and technology that will not only make the process more simple and fun, it will help you increase the quality of your products. You may think that this is an unnecessary investment but it will make a massive difference, particularly if you are planning to sell your items or even just wear them yourself.

Learn The Terminology

Once you start learning more about jewellery, you may notice that there are different names for processes and items that you just do not know what it means. It can be overwhelming and frustrating not knowing what the terminology is, especially if you want to invest in the appropriate tools. You will certainly learn this eventually as you progress, but it may be a good idea to learn the different means before you get started. This can be easily achieved through researching online, going to classes and asking people in the field.

Sell Your Pieces

You may want to start to make jewellery as a hobby and because you have a passion for it. However, you may be better at it than you expect and others may compliment your jewellery pieces constantly. If this is the case, you may consider setting your own shop and selling your pieces. At first, you can sell them to family, friends and colleagues at work to gauge how people react to your pieces and whether they sell. Once you are ready, you may want to start selling your pieces online or in an actual shop. Evidently, if you plan to go ahead with this, there is a lot to consider and to do, including managing your inventory and marketing your pieces. This may be a good idea if you are looking to make extra money out of a fun hobby that you love.

Learn About The Trade

Anytime you want to start something, you should aim to have some knowledge before you get started. The last thing you want is to invest time and money into something that will not be worth it and prove to be a waste. Even if you love wearing jewellery, this does not necessarily guarantee that you will enjoy making it. Before going ahead with this, make sure that you know a bit more about what will be required of you, even if you just want to do it for fun and do not care whether the pieces made are of good quality.

Have a Set Workspace

Having your own workspace is the best thing you can do for yourself, particularly if you do not leave alone. Once you start getting deeply into jewellery making, you will find that you have many tools and materials around, some of which can be tiny pieces and sharp items. If possible, try to have a designated space where you can work with no interruptions and leave your tools and pieces safe.

Look Around For Inspiration

It is okay for you not to know what to do as a beginner. If you are unsure of what pieces to create and where to start, find inspiration somewhere, whether it is with fellow jewellery makers or online and use this as motivation to get started and keep going.

R&D Return On Pharma Investment Picks Up

Research and development (R&D) include activities that companies undertake to innovate and introduce new products and services. It is often the first stage in the development process. The goal is typically to take new products and services to market and add to the company’s bottom line.

In 2020, projected returns on investment in R&D for a combined cohort of 15 global pharmaceutical companies was 2.5 per cent, 0.9 percentage points higher than in 2019.

This is the first sign of a reversal in the declining trend seen over the past seven years, according to research by Deloitte’s Centre for Health Solutions.

The range in performance between the top performing and bottom performing companies has narrowed, however, with all but one company having an internal rate of return below the industry weighted average cost of capital.

In 2020, the cohort saw an increase in average forecast peak sales per pipeline asset to $421 million, from $357 million in 2019. However, the average cost to develop an asset increased once more to $2,442 million, up $51 million compared to 2019 and a $1,115 million increase since 2013.

The increase in costs per asset is due mainly to a fall in the overall number of assets in late stage pipelines which decreased from 213 in 2019 to 207 in 2020. Between 1 May 2019 and 30 April 2020, the cohort had a total of 53 assets approved, an increase from 39 in 2019.

Deloitte also commissioned analysis measuring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on clinical trials to investigate the likely impact on future year returns.

The analysis revealed that between March and November 2020, the pandemic affected an estimated 1,210 trials across the industry. The vast majority of these had delayed starts or completions; and eight per cent were terminated or withdrawn.

Colin Terry, Consulting Partner for European R&D at Deloitte, commented: “We are finally seeing seeds of change in the projected R&D productivity given recent progress of some novel trial designs and improvements in efficiency through the digitalisation of drug discovery and development.

However, adoption continues to be experimental and not at scale across the industry, although accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic across all stakeholders and regulators.

The ‘need for speed’ has become all-encompassing alongside the realisation that development cycle times need to be reduced and new ways of working embraced to finally see the industry break the trends of the last decade.”

COVID-19 Pandemic Has Accelerated Digital Upskilling

Upskilling is a workplace trend that facilitates continuous learning by providing training programs and development opportunities that expand an employee’s abilities and minimise skill gaps. A new survey of 32500 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.

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 opportunities 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%.

Younger people more focused on maximising income

Three-quarters of workers globally say they want to work for an organisation that will make a “positive contribution to society.” This feeling was especially acute in China, India, and South Africa.

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”.

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”, 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.

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 are more likely to work in roles that could allow remote working than those who live in rural areas.

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.

Duane Morris named a Standout Firm by BTI Consulting Group

Duane Morris has been named a Standout Firm in Class Actions Litigation, Cybersecurity Litigation and Complex Commercial Litigation by BTI Consulting Group.

According to BTI:

  • As litigation (of all types) is starting to pile up in what is expected to be a tsunami of litigation, corporate counsel re-evaluate their options of law firms based on current performance, response-to-date to the pandemic, ongoing interactions and prior performance.
  • Top legal decision makers identified the firms best suited to meet their most pressing litigation needs.

If you would like to find out more information about BTI Consulting Group, please visit: https://bticonsulting.com/

About Duane Morris

Duane Morris LLP, a law firm with more than 800 attorneys in offices across the United States and internationally, is asked by a broad array of clients to provide innovative solutions to today’s legal and business challenges.

Mining Companies Resilient Despite Pandemic

Mining companies are so far weathering the COVID-19 crisis but should take advantage of relative stability to adopt strategies to mitigate against further economic and social risks, according to PwC’s Mine 2020 report.

PwC’s forecast for 2020 suggests the big miners will take a modest hit to EBITDA of approximately 6%. This follows a strong financial performance in 2019 – with revenue up 4% to US$692bn and market capitalisation up 19% to US$898bn.

On this basis PwC believes the Top 40 are in a strong and resilient position to weather the economic uncertainty created by COVID-19.

Despite this positive outlook, the report cautions that mining companies will need to adapt to long-term impacts caused by COVID-19. Miners may need to think about de-risking critical supply chains and investing more in local communities.

A shift towards localisation in supply chains and for smaller deals in local markets, as well as different forms of community engagement, may turn out to be enduring consequences of the pandemic.

A changing outlook for investments

Capital expenditure was up 11% to US$61bn in FY19, according to Mine 2020. PwC expects capital expenditure will slow in 2020, freeing up cash flows, and giving miners the capacity to pay dividends should they choose to do so.

PwC doesn’t expect many mega-deals to take place in 2020 due to increased economic uncertainty and practical constraints of site visits and inspections. However, the current conditions provide opportunities for the Top 40 to capitalise on smaller acquisitions in their local markets.

The enterprise value of mega gold deals totalled US$19.2bn in FY19. Gold deals are not likely to recur to the same size or quantum as in recent years.

Cybersecurity requires attention

Currently just 12% of mining companies’ Chief Executives are extremely concerned about cyber. Yet Mine 2020 notes that over a similar period the number of reported cyber breaches among mining companies increase fourfold.

Growing expectations around ESG

Although Mine 2020 has found that most large miners are moving in the right direction on ESG disclosure, some are performing better than others.

Only 11 of the Top 40 companies are setting public ESG commitments and targets, reporting consistently against them, and linking executive and management performance to achieving them.