COVID-19 HR pulse: w/c 18th May

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

The UK government has urged all workers who cannot work from home to ‘return to work’, although the announcement drew criticism after also stipulating workers should avoid public transport. Meanwhile, the Chancellor of the Exchequer surprised MPs by announcing an extension to the furlough scheme until the end of October. Read more

The devolved Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments have all kept their ‘stay at home’ instruction - contravening the message prime minister, Boris Johnson. Read more

Canada’s employment minister, Carla Qualtrough, has said the government’s 12-week Emergency Wage Subsidy will be made available past its original end date of early June. Indications are that it will be extended for months rather than weeks. Read more

Amongst a number of new announcements from French president Emmanuel Macron on easing its lockdown, is a requirement that anyone wanting to travel through Paris during rush hour will need authorisation from their employer. Read more

Officials in New York are requiring that all nursing home staff should tested twice-weekly for coronavirus. Read more

Several of Germany’s federal states - including the regional government in North Rhine-Westphalia - have reintroduced lockdown measures - just days after Chancellor Merkel relaxed them, after seeing a spike in new infections. Shop openings - due for 11 May - have been postponed. Read more

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has unveiled a $270bn stimulus package to boost the country’s economy. Read more

Unions/Association updates

Leaders of Britain’s largest trade unions (Unite, Unison, the GMB and Usdaw), together with the TUC this week joined forces to say they would not be recommending its three million members return to work until employers agree to a nationwide health and safety revolution. Read more

The Police Federation for England and Wales has claimed ambiguous social distancing messaging from the government has made the already “challenging” job of its officers now “impossible”. Read more

Bernard Mariano, chief information officer at WHO, has confirmed it will launch a symptom tracker app, to help people determine if they have been infected with coronavirus. Read more

The Confederation of British Industry is calling on the EU to relax state aid rules which mean companies not profitable at the end of last year are ineligible for tax-payer backed loans. Read more

Corporate HR announcements

Airbnb - the holiday listings platform - has said the global downturn in international travel caused by COVID-19 will force it to lay off 25%, or 1,900 of its worldwide workforce. Read more

Qatar Airways has pledged giving away 100,000 flights to frontline health workers via its Thank You Heroes page on its website. Read more

Martin Chown, the boss of nuclear power station, Sellafield, has said workers involved in decommissioning old facilities must start returning to work now in case there is a ‘nuclear incident’ caused by them being allowed to mothball. Read more

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has announced COVID-19 means it is unlikely the company will reopen its offices before September and that all in-person events would be canceled for the remainder of the year. But more spectacularly than this, he hinted he would allow staff to work from home in perpetuity because the last few months has proven it works. Read more

Europe’s largest travel group, Tui, has warned it could slash 8,000 jobs globally, as coronavirus forces it to permanently cost costs by 30%. Losses will comprise both roles lost, or not recruited. Read more

America’s three largest airlines have told flight attendants not to force passengers to comply with a new policy requiring face coverings, just encourage them to do so, according to Reuters. Read more

Elon Musk has threatened to move Tesla’s headquarters out of California after the state’s ‘shelter in place’ rules were extended. Read more

Infosys has announced the gentlest of returns to its offices, with just 5% of staff (just 12,000 people) allowed to return to their workplaces in phase one of its reopening plans. Read more