World briefs (July 17, 2000)

Norway breaks from hectic schedules
Oslo — Concerned about the frantic pace of the modern world, the government of Norway urged workers across the country to take an hour-long break and “goof off.” Throughout the nation, people left their workplaces, switched off their cellular phones and just enjoyed life for an hour. The government-sponsored project, called “07-06-05’’ after the date Norway gained independence from Sweden, took out newspaper ads urging people to take a break and think about their lives. Organizers said people need independence from the tyranny of tight schedules.

U.S. HR salaries on the upswing
Alexandria, Va. — American HR professionals saw their salaries rise faster than the national average this year, a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management and William M. Mercer reports. U.S. salaries have increased an average of 4.2 per cent for the last five years, while over the past year in the HR sector compensation and benefits managers saw a 6.1 per cent increase, managerial/professional recruiters received 5.9 per cent, technical recruiters received 10 per cent and HR generalists gained 5.4 per cent. Top HR executives with industrial relations responsibilities saw compensation rise by 9.3 per cent.

Australian state pays for insensitivity
Melbourne — A tribunal has found the State of Victoria guilty of discriminating against a female employee for taking 11 weeks to install an agreed upon modem in her home to allow her the flexibility of telecommuting while caring for an ill child. The case follows others that have raised the bar on the need for employers to accommodate workers’ family needs, particularly when part-time and flex-work arrangements are ideal.

U.S. firms offer same-sex benefits
Detroit, Atlanta — The Big Three U.S. automakers, with a combined labourforce of 465,000 U.S. workers, will extend health care benefits to same-sex partners of employees. Hot on the heels of the automakers’ announcement, Coca-Cola Co. announced similar plans, adding that it is looking at extending the policy to its global operations.

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