1,500 firms miss gender pay gap deadline, says EHRC

Some 1,500 UK companies with 250 staff or more failed to submit their gender pay gap data before the stipulated close-of-4 April deadline, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The watchdog also revealed that 15% of the firms that had filed their figures did so from 4pm on 3 April onwards, creating a surge of 11th-hour brinkmanship. Indeed, The Guardian reports that, on 4 April itself, around 1,200 firms scrambled to the finish line.

Among the eyebrow raisers that emerged from the frantic spell of reporting are Ryanair’s median hourly gap of almost 72% – and Karen Millen’s revelation that the median bonus pay it awards to female staffers is 96% lower than that enjoyed by its male employees.

As the deadline neared, CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese said: “We need to use the data to give us greater clarity on the courses of action we all need to take to make a real shift on this longstanding business and societal agenda. It’s vital that organisations continue to develop this narrative, and hold themselves to account in the years ahead.” He added: “It is often said that sunlight is the best disinfectant. The increased transparency that gender pay reporting has brought has further fuelled the debate about how we’re supporting different groups in society towards fulfilling, fair, and rewarding opportunities and work for all.”

 

OECD makes adult learning plea in study of AI’s impact on jobs

Artificial intelligence is unlikely to affect the human workforce as much as experts had thought, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In new research, the intergovernmental body said that 10% of US and 12% of UK roles would be automated over the next 20 years – challenging a previous Oxford University forecast, which pegged the figures at 47% and 35% respectively.

But don’t go mopping your brows just yet. Zeroing in on the US figure, the OECD explained: “As job losses are unlikely to be distributed equally across the country, this would amount to several times the disruption in local economies caused by the 1950s decline of the car industry in Detroit – where changes in technology and increased automation, among other factors, caused massive job losses.”

With that in mind, it pointed out, “the large share of workers whose jobs are likely to change quite significantly as a result of automation [should compel] countries to strengthen their adult learning policies to prepare their workforce for the changes in job requirements they are likely to face.”

 

Boris Johnson and Tesla under fire for pre-emptive announcements

It’s been an interesting week for leadership figures triggering controversy with premature statements they have made on extremely serious matters. On 4 April, UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson found himself in a media storm when it emerged that the foreign office had deleted a 22 March tweet ascribing the recent Salisbury poisoning incident to Russia. Just a few days before that, Tesla leaders were censured for publishing a blog post that outlined the circumstances behind the death of 38-year-old Californian test driver Wei Huang, who had been working on the brand’s ‘Model X’ self-driving car on 23 March when it crashed. US watchdog the National Transportation Safety Board said that is was “unhappy with [Tesla’s] release of investigative information”.

 

Former MtGox Bitcoin exchange chief braves Reddit session with ex-clients

In a bold act of contrition, Mark Karpeles – former CEO of defunct Bitcoin exchange MtGox – held a Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ session on 4 April to chat with ex-customers who were affected by the platform’s slide into bankruptcy. Following the Tokyo-based firm’s collapse in 2014, Karpeles was arrested by Japanese authorities on suspicion of falsifying its outstanding-balance data, then re-arrested on suspicion of embezzlement. Karpeles has been out on bail since July 2016, but is not allowed to leave Japan. In a header message on his Reddit thread, Karpeles wrote: “I know I didn’t handle the last, stressful days of the outdrawn and painful Gox collapse very well. I can only be humble about that in hindsight. Once again, I’m sorry.” Karpeles also criticised the “egregiously distasteful” potential outcome of any move by the MtGox estate to sell its remaining Bitcoin holdings which, under Japanese law, could make him up to one billion dollars. “I don’t want this,” he wrote.

 

New York councilman in bid to unplug city’s workers from out-of-hours emails

New York City councilman Rafael Espinal has spoken to the media this week about his plans to eliminate the emails that Big Apple workers receive outside office hours. Outlining the thinking behind his Right to Disconnect Bill – which he introduced on 22 March – Espinal told New York University’s Washington Square News: “My main goal is to ensure that workers take control of their personal lives and are able to draw a line between their work hours and their personal hours. There has to be a way that employees can feel they’re able to disconnect from work without fear of retaliation.” He added: “In New York City and in this country, the conversation is worth having. Especially where the wages have stayed stagnant and workers are expected to produce more [and] they’re not being compensated for being available 24 hours a day.”