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Privacy fears as Moscow metro rolls out facial recognition pay system

RussiaPrivacy fears as Moscow metro rolls out facial recognition pay systemCampaigners say Face Pay, launched in over 240 stations, is ‘dangerous step’ in efforts to control population Pjotr Sauer in MoscowFri 15 Oct 2021 06.53 EDTLast modified on Fri 15 Oct 2021 11.12 EDTThe Moscow metro has rolled out what authorities have lauded as the world’s first mass-scale facial recognition payment system, amid privacy concerns over the new technology.The cashless, cardless and phoneless system, named Face Pay, launched at more than 240 stations across the Russian capital on Friday.“Now all the passengers will be able to pay for travel without taking out their phone, metro or bank card,” the Moscow mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, tweeted on Thursday evening.To activate Face Pay, Sobyanin said, passengers will need to connect their photo, bank card and metro card to the service through the metro’s mobile app. “It will be enough just to look at the camera to pass through the turnstiles,” Sobyanin said.The Moscow authorities, who expect up to 15% of metro passengers will use Face Pay regularly in the next three years, said the system would quicken the flow of people, particularly at busy times.“Moscow is the first in the world to introduce Face Pay on such a scale. The technology is new and very complex, we will continue to work on improving it,” the mayor added.Authorities have said passengers’ data will be “securely encrypted”, saying the information collected will be stored in data …

UK Poised to Expand Workplace PPE Obligations

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UK Poised to Expand Workplace PPE Obligations

​Employers in the United Kingdom that require personal protective equipment (PPE) on the jobsite will need to supply the health and safety gear to a broader worker population under proposed changes to the country’s 1992 law governing PPE in the workplace. The change may affect small and medium-sized employers more than large employers, legal experts predict.Companies providing PPE such as safety helmets, boots, goggles, gloves and face masks to employees will have to broaden PPE distribution to contractors.Under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work 1992 Regulations, employers have had to provide PPE only to their employees. The proposed amendments would extend the obligation to “limb (b) workers,” a U.K. worker category describing self-employed “dependent contractors” who personally provide services to other businesses. In describing a limb (b) worker, the government used the example of “Penny,” a private-hire driver working casually for “Acme Driver.” Penny can refuse work if she wants and must perform it herself if she decides to drive a customer; passengers pay Acme rather than Penny. In the U.K., individuals classified as workers generally enjoy certain rights and benefits not available to independent contractors, although fewer than full employees. The U.K.’s Health and Safety Executive in July launched a four-week public consultation on the amendments after the High Court, in a case brought by the Independent Works Union of Great Britain, ruled in 2020 that the government had long failed to properly incorporate certain relevant European Union directives into U.K. law. The amendments will cover England, Scotland and Wales.The regulations define PPE as equipment, including clothing, meant to protect a person at work against risks to their health and safety.”For most employers, the changes to the PPE at Work regulations will involve very little change, as most organizations will likely have already been providing PPE based on the nature of the role itself rather than the status of the person doing it,” said Mark Hamilton, an attorney with Dentons in Edinburgh.”Perhaps in the case of employers who largely rely on workers—for example, food delivery companies—it will be a significant logistical and financial commitment having to now provide safety equipment such as helmets to all their workers, where previously they would just have made it a condition of work that one was worn, with the worker having to supply their own,” he said.Potentially Costly ChangesMost large employers already are expected to provide tools, including PPE, to keep people safe, said Tim Hill, an attorney with Eversheds Sutherland in Newcastle, England. Apart from the PPE workplace regulation, U.K. laws for decades have required businesses to look after the health and safety of everyone on their worksites, not only employees, he added.Even before the proposed PPE legal changes, all people working on jobsites should have been provided with the necessary PPE and employers faced legal risk by not supplying it, based on the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, Section 3, he said. That law requires businesses to protect anyone on a worksite from health and safety risks.Gig economy …

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What is the ‘new model’ the EU is proposing for Northern Ireland?

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BrexitWhat is the ‘new model’ the EU is proposing for Northern Ireland?‘Bespoke Northern Ireland-specific solution’ includes potential new rules on food, plants and medicines Jennifer Rankin and Daniel Boffey in BrusselsWed 13 Oct 2021 15.15 EDTLast modified on Wed 13 Oct 2021 15.56 EDTThe EU’s latest proposals, described as “a new model” for Northern Ireland, are a significant concession from Brussels. Having ruled out renegotiation of the protocol in July, the EU is proposing a “bespoke Northern Ireland-specific solution”.SausagesA new certificate scheme would mean that certain products that are generally prohibited for import into the EU, such as British sausages, would now be allowed to be imported. The EU would retain the right, however, to impose a ban if there is any suggestion these products are entering the wider single market.EU offers to scrap 80% of NI food checks but prepares for Johnson to reject dealRead morePlants, meat and dairyChecks would be reduced by 80% on a large range of supermarket product lines, through reinforced monitoring of supply chains and the use of specific packaging and labelling indicating that the goods are for sale only in the UK. In return the EU wants the UK to deliver on its commitment to complete the construction of permanent border control posts at Northern Irish ports for incoming trade from Great Britain.HaulageA type of haulage known as groupage, where goods from different companies for different customers are …

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Italy Implements Mandatory Green Pass for Workers

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Italy Implements Mandatory Green Pass for Workers

​Gero Bongiorno works as the head of research and development at an industrial machinery company in Milan, which is preparing for Italy’s Green Pass for workers. As the Oct. 15 implementation date for the Green Pass approaches, Bongiorno isn’t worried about his own direct reports, who are fully vaccinated. But there are other people in the company who aren’t. Employers and Employees Prepare for Green PassItaly’s Green Pass—a domestic COVID-19 passport that indicates if someone is fully vaccinated or has tested negative for the virus in the last 72 hours—has been required at restaurants, entertainment venues and other public places, but will soon be required for any employees who are working onsite. “The employer is obliged to verify whether people working in the work environment have the Green Pass,” said Vittorio De Luca, an attorney with De Luca & Partners in Milan. Verification can be done occasionally, he said. “There must be a policy applicable in the company stating who is responsible to check how and whom, which information may and which may not be checked, and what happens in the case of [the] lack of [a] Green Pass,” De Luca said.Green Pass and PrivacyEmployees have three options to acquire a Green Pass. They can get fully vaccinated, which is the encouraged option. Otherwise, they can present a negative antigen test that allows a Green Pass for 72 hours, or they can prove that they have recently fully recovered from COVID-19. The Green Pass itself does not specify which category an employee falls under, and because of the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation, companies can’t ask. “The company cannot ask, ‘Are you vaccinated,’ or ‘Is your Green Pass active because you took the test this morning, or the PCR [polymerase chain reaction] test three days ago,’ ” Bongiorno said. The employer is free to define who is responsible to verify if employees have the Green Pass. “But the people who are in charge must be formally in charge, that must be part of a policy, [and] the policy must be communicated to the employees,” De Luca said. Even then, the people responsible for checking Green Passes can only see if the person has one, and not under what circumstances. The Green Pass app just shows “the employee can get into the company or not, no other information in the Green Pass may be subject to examination,” he said.No Green Pass, No PayThere are consequences for both employers and employees who don’t abide by the new mandatory requirements. If an employee declares that he or she does not have a Green Pass before entering the workplace, or is found to not have a Green Pass when asked, the employee will be turned away and won’t get paid until he or she gets a Green Pass.Though the vaccination is not mandatory, the use of the Green Pass and its consequences have already led to an increase in vaccinations, De Luca said. Bongiorno knows people who were persuaded by the Green Pass requirements at restaurants …

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EU member states to issue joint warning to UK over reduced fishing rights

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BrexitEU member states to issue joint warning to UK over reduced fishing rightsFourteen countries likely to take tough stance in future talks about fisheries if access to UK waters does not improve Daniel Boffey in Brussels and Lisa O’Carroll in DublinMon 11 Oct 2021 13.38 EDTLast modified on Mon 11 Oct 2021 17.49 EDTFourteen EU member states are preparing to issue a joint declaration accusing the British government of risking “significant economic and social damage” to their fishing communities, as wider relations appear close to breaking point.In the statement, seen by the Guardian, France, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Cyprus, Portugal, Denmark, Italy, Lithuania, Sweden, Malta and Latvia will call for the UK to act “in the spirit and the letter” of the Brexit deal struck last Christmas Eve.The governments of the UK and Jersey, a British crown dependency, have infuriated the French government in recent weeks over the reduced numbers of licences given out to small boat owners who fish in coastal waters. In a pointed sign of solidarity, the member states will make a thinly veiled threat about the likely impact on future EU-UK fisheries negotiations if the UK does not rethink its stance.The development comes at a febrile time in the EU-UK relationship, as Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commissioner responsible for Brexit, prepares to table proposals on improving the post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland.Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, warned on Monday that the EU was close to …

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UK Government Starts Consultation on Flexible Work

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UK Government Starts Consultation on Flexible Work

​During the last general election, the U.K. government included a manifesto pledge to make flexible work the default position unless employers have a good reason not to make it so. In 2019, the government launched the Flexible Working Taskforce—a partnership across government departments, business groups, trade unions and charities to encourage employers to consider advertising jobs at all levels and pay grades as flexible. But things had gone quiet and this commitment wasn’t included in the most recent Queen’s Speech.However, the government has now launched a consultation which sets out a number of proposals. These are built around the principle that working arrangements are best decided through dialogue between the parties. The government intends to provide, what it calls an “enabling framework” within which these conversations can take place rather than setting out specific legal requirements.The government will not change the law to allow employees a right to have flexible work. Employees will still have to initiate the discussion, as they do now, and the focus of the consultation is to support employees to start these conversations and help employers to respond to them.In other words, the government has no intention of making flexible work the default position.It has set out five specific proposals:1. Making the right to request flexible work a ‘day one’ rightCurrently employees can make a request to work flexibly under the statutory procedure only if they’ve worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks. The government believes that making flexible work available at the outset of the employment relationship will help encourage employers to consider flexible working options early in job design/recruitment process and give employees more confidence to make a request. It is asking for views about whether the qualifying period can be removed and what benefits this might deliver.However, it does not intend to impose a legal duty on employers to say in job advertisements whether they are open to flexible work.2. Ensuring that the eight business grounds for turning down a request remain validEmployers who turn down a request to work flexibly under the statutory scheme must be able to point to one or more of the business grounds set out in the legislation. The government doesn’t believe that these present a disproportionate barrier to flexible working (they don’t) and doesn’t think that they need to be changed. However, it wants to find out if the existing business reasons are still appropriate.3. Requiring the employer to consider alternativesCurrently, an employer can turn down a request if it has relevant business reason. It doesn’t have to consider alternatives to the one proposed, although, in practice, many employers do. The government wants to explore whether it’s practical to ask employers to set out, when rejecting a request, what alternatives it’s considered (and, if viable, presumably offered to the employee). It believes that asking employers to consider alternatives will help influence organizational norms.4. Reviewing the administrative process underpinning the processCurrently, an employee can make only one statutory request every 12 months and the employer has three months to …

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Ireland ends 12.5% tax rate in OECD global pact

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IrelandIreland ends 12.5% tax rate in OECD global pactLow-tax policy of past 18 years had attracted multinationals such as Google and Facebook to Dublin What does the Irish tax deal mean for multinationals? Lisa O’Carroll in Dublin@ …

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Global deal on 15% minimum tax rate for multinationals edges closer

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Global economyGlobal deal on 15% minimum tax rate for multinationals edges closerAlmost 140 countries understood to be in final OECD talks on measures to stop firms moving profits to tax havens Richard Partington and Lisa O’CarrollTue 5 Oct 2021 10.58 EDTLast modified on Tue 5 Oct 2021 12.17 EDTAlmost 140 countries are edging closer to a global deal on the taxation of multinationals, with agreement on a minimum 15% rate of corporation tax set to be announced as part of a landmark statement at the OECD in Paris on Friday.Governments representing more than 90% of the world economy are understood to be in the final stages of talks on a global minimum rate and other measures designed to stop multinationals shifting profits into tax havens.It is understood the accord will update several key details from an outline statement signed by 130 countries in July. Sources indicated a 15% rate was likely to be settled upon as part of the OECD’s Inclusive Framework tax negotiating forum, in a move backing down from an earlier agreement for a minimum of “at least 15%”.In a sprint to agree further details after almost a decade of negotiations, the push to issue a statement comes before a key meeting between G20 finance ministers taking place in Washington next week.Ireland, one of nine countries that declined to sign the OECD headline agreement in July, is expected to sign the landmark deal on Friday.The French economy minister, Bruno …

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EU and Beyond: Workplace COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Protocols

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EU and Beyond: Workplace COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Protocols

​Return-to-office policies were a hot topic this past summer as employers were busy preparing for the fall re-opening of workplaces. The question of the accompanying health-and-safety measures remains a tricky one to deal with for global organizations. This article focuses on testing and vaccination protocols.A lot has happened since April:The EU Green Pass (also called the COVID-19 passport) took effect on time for the summer holiday period.France made vaccination compulsory for health care workers and other categories of workers.The U.S. president called for vaccination to become mandatory in the private sector.Italy is planning to make the Green Pass compulsory to access any workplace.People across Europe and beyond are certainly more relaxed than before the summer when it comes to taking tests, getting vaccines and sharing the related status: most of us did it just to be able to go on holiday (or, in some countries, access a restaurant). But does this mean that global employers can apply a blanket approach, mandating testing or vaccination and asking for status updates? The answer is no. There remain huge variations across regions and countries.As we emphasized in our previous blog posts, an employer’s duty to ensure the health and safety of its workforce often competes with other rules deriving from employment, anti-discrimination and privacy laws, particularly an individual’s right to determine if and when to accept medical treatment, which includes being vaccinated. Therefore, employers cannot—save for where there is a clear local statutory provision mandating vaccinations for some or all of the population—impose vaccination (and in most cases, testing) on their employees.EuropeAt a European level, save for the EU Green Pass, there is still no guidance or legislation to make vaccination mandatory. Vaccination of individuals is thus still voluntary under EU law, but as noted above, the Green Pass has indirectly helped with the vaccination of employees.At a national level, employers will need to navigate the various approaches and regulations. After Italy, France and Greece are the next EU countries to impose employee vaccination (or, in Greece, testing or proof of recovery from COVID-19—see below).In France, since September, several categories of employees (including medical and paramedical professionals working in hospitals, clinics and retirement homes, firefighters, ambulance drivers and more) have been subject to mandatory vaccination. Only those with a proven medical condition are exempt.Mandatory vaccination cannot be imposed on other categories of employee and employers are not allowed to ask about vaccination status. However, if an employee wishes to get vaccinated, the employer must facilitate this, such as by allowing the employee to take time off to get vaccinated during work hours.Besides, employees working in close contact with the public (such as restaurants, movie theaters, buses and trains) are subject to the obligation to present a sanitary pass, which is granted after vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.Employers must make sure that their employees comply with the obligation to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or to present a sanitary pass when required. Refusal to do so may lead to suspension of the employment contract and remuneration. …

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‘Wine is our livelihood’: locals still recovering from German floods

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Wine ‘Wine is our livelihood’: locals still recovering from German floods Estimated €50m worth of wine has been lost in the Ahr valley since the floods Kate Connolly in Ahrweiler Wed 15 Sep 2021 00.00 EDT Tanja Lingen barely dares to think about the night her two sons went into the family vineyard cellar to […]

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