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COVID-19 HR pulse: w/c 27th April

Our weekly news pulse for Human Resources leaders rounds up the latest news and insights impacting people professionals amid the developing COVID-19 pandemic. Quick click to jump to the relevant updates:


Government updates

Zealand’s premier, Jacinda Arden, has announced that she, ministers and public service chiefs will take a 20% pay cut for the next six months, effective immediately. To move is designed to show solidarity for those impacted by coronavirus. Read more

President Trump has said theatres, sporting venues and churches will be the first to reopen “under strict physical distancing protocols”, as a prelude to a phased return to normal for the US economy. Read more

President Trump has also signed an executive order banning all immigration into the country for the next 60 days, as it emerged 45,000 Americans had died from coronavirus. Read more

Schools and hair salons and some retailers no larger than 800 square metres that are currently closed will be allowed to open from 4th May, according to an announcement by Chancellor, Angela Merkel. The move is the start of a relaxation of its lockdown. Read more

Luxembourg prime minister, Xavier Bettel, has ordered all citizens to cover their mouths and noses in public. Medical face masks will not be obligatory, but scarfs/bandanas are being suggested. Read more

The Spanish government has extended its lockdown to 9th May - meaning adults can still only leave their homes to do essential work, shop for food, go for medical appointments, or walk their dogs. Read more

Unions/Association updates

Analysis by the Institute of Employment Studies finds new claims for Universal Credit increased by 400% between February-March - five times greater than the previous record monthly rise in unemployment benefits, in July 1994. Read more

The Resolution Foundation claims the UK’s economic recovery could take two-to-five years if the lockdown lasts from between 6-12 months. But it also warns lifting restrictions too early could prolong the economic and fiscal damage. Read more

The AFL-CIO union federation - the largest federation of unions in the United States - has this week warned that workplaces were still far too dangerous to consider reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic. Read more

Italy’s tourism association has estimated the COVID-19 crisis will result in lost income of €22 billion this year. Read more

Corporate HR announcements

Amazon was forced to suspend work at its French distribution centres between 16-20th April after a court ruling found fault with the firm’s COVID-19 measures “regarding the security and health of its workers.” Read more

Furloughed staff at Rolls Royce have been asked to donate four days’ paid leave in return for the company topping up their pay to full-pay during the period they are not working. Read more

Dependents of NHS workers killed by coronavirus will be exempt from having to pay inheritance tax, under a new scheme announced by the UK government. Read more

Bobby Kotick, CEO of games giant Activision Blizzard, has decided to give out his personal mobile phone number to 10,000 employees and has said they can call him at any time to reach out to him if they need to. Read more

More than 105,000 Italian firms have applied to be considered part of supply chains to other businesses deemed ‘essential’ in order to be able to have their own employees return to work. Of these, 2,000 organisations have already been declined, while 38,000 are still being investigated. Read more

Fast-food chain, McDonald’s has implemented short-time work in Austria to protect the continued work of 9,600 of employees. Read more

The Walt Disney Co. has said it will stop paying more than 100,000 employees - approximately half of its workforce - as it battles to save losses of $500 million per month due to its theme parks being closed. Read more

Starbucks has announced it will take a phased approach to reopening stores from 4th May - starting with having locations as drive-thru only, or having online orders for contactless pickup or delivery. Read more