Headlines UK

One in five companies monitors employees working remotely

Special programs track employee actions and events on his computer

After the transfer of employees to remote work due to the coronavirus pandemic, many companies thought about control over them and even began to purchase special software, writes Metro. According to a YouGov / Skillcast survey, 12% of employers are already tracking the actions of their employees, and 8% plan to start doing so soon. A total of 2 thousand companies took part in the survey.

Modern software allows you to track how much time an employee spends on reading work letters and messages, check what he is doing during a meeting, and take screenshots of the desktop. Under British law, an employer has the right to do this if he suspects his employee of violating the law and doubts his integrity.

However, Labor’s shadow minister for digital affairs, Chi Onwura, considers the law outdated. “The government must guarantee people the right to privacy in the workplace or at home.”– added Onwura. Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, agrees with her: Technology should be used to improve lives, not to deprive people of their dignity

Headline USA

Wristband that tracks your emotional state lets bosses monitor employees’ wellbeing in lockdown

A £50 wristband created by a British health technology firm is helping people track the wellbeing of their friends, family and employees in lockdown. 

Moodbeam features two buttons that the wearer simply has to press throughout the day depending on their mood – yellow for happy and blue for unhappy. 

This is logged alongside both sleep and activity and is available for other people to view on an associated app. 

It means users can view the moods of their loved ones during lockdown on their smartphone and know when to check in with them with a quick message.  

Companies could also buy the wristbands in bulk for their employees while they’re working from home and may feel isolated.  

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Moodbeam lets users quite literally ‘see how they feel’ on an app that links up with the wristband. Wearers just need to press the blue button on the band if they’re feeling down and yellow if they’re feeling OK

Moodbeam has been created by a Hull-based firm of the same name that formed in 2016, although its solution has become especially relevant as a way to trigger connections during the pandemic and improve mental health. 

Experts have already warned of serious mental health issues proliferating around the UK during the third national lockdown. 

UK charity Mind also recently revealed its pandemic support page has seen its highest number of visitors since April — when the country was in the grips of the first wave of coronavirus.  

‘Knowing how you’re feeling at any one time can be powerful, especially when set against the backdrop of work, rest and play,’ Moodbeam says on its website. 

‘The simple act of pressing a button provides deeper insight into what’s going on in the mind of the wearer, be it you or someone you care about who has chosen to share how they’re feeling with you.’

The app presents this information in a clear and understandable way ‘providing a unique insight into the emotional wellbeing of the wearer’.  

Family members can keep track of how their loved ones are doing during the pandemic with a quick look at the app

Family members can keep track of how their loved ones are doing during the pandemic with a quick look at the app

Moodbeam says: 'With each button press, your mood is logged alongside both sleep and activity. The simple app presents this information in a clear and understandable way providing a unique insight into the emotional wellbeing of the wearer'

Moodbeam says: ‘With each button press, your mood is logged alongside both sleep and activity. The simple app presents this information in a clear and understandable way providing a unique insight into the emotional wellbeing of the wearer’

Moodbeam may, for example, let someone keep up to date on the wellbeing of a parent who lives hundreds of miles away that they haven’t seen in nearly a year due to the government’s lockdown. 

But it could also provide a new solution for professionals – managers could give their team the option to wear a wristband to create an in-app community of workers looking out for each other. 

Managers could view an online dashboard to keep tabs on their workers’ mental health, due the current inability to check-in physically with staff. 

‘Businesses are trying to get on top of staying connected with staff working from home,’ Moodbeam co-founder Christina Colmer McHugh told the BBC.

‘Here they can ask 500 members: “You OK?” without picking up the phone.’

The app, for both iOS and Android, lets users explore patterns and trends throughout the day, add notes, compare sleep and activity against mood, set mood prompts, as well as choose to share your mood profile with others. 

The silicone band, meanwhile, is tough and water resistant, meaning it can be worn while working, walking or showering.

It doesn’t have to be worn around the wrist – it can also be clipped onto work lanyards.

The app is also intended to offer a personal guide of when we feel happy and when we don't. Moodbeam says: 'Gain deeper insight into how you feel, and do more of what makes you happy'

The app is also intended to offer a personal guide of when we feel happy and when we don’t. Moodbeam says: ‘Gain deeper insight into how you feel, and do more of what makes you happy’

The firm was originally founded by Colmer McHugh when her seven-year-old daughter was going through a tough time at school.  

She was left wondering what it would be like to know how her daughter was feeling when she wasn’t with her – and realised this was an experience shared by thousands of other parents. 

‘It was developed to allow me to get closer to the thoughts and feelings of my daughter as she suffered with anxiety at a young age,’ said Colmer McHugh.

‘There was nothing like this on the market, so it became my mission to create it. 

‘We all know that the hardest thing to do when feeling low can be to admit it, so having visual sight of how my daughter was feeling without her having to do that openly acted as a conversation opener – and really helped us to support her fully.’

Moodbeam was launched in 2016 and went on to win the Innovation Partnership Award at the Barclays Entrepreneur Awards in 2019, but since the pandemic it’s been optimised for businesses.  

UK mental health charity Brave Mind is one of the organisations using Moodbeam for its own staff. 

‘One member of the team was in an uncomfortable place, struggling with a huge workload, and disillusioned with what was going on,’ Brave Mind trustee Paddy Burtt told the BBC. 

‘It’s not something he would have flagged up, and we wouldn’t have known about it unless we had seen the data.’ 

The firm is also working with national framework provider Pagabo to roll out use of the devices on construction sites for staff. 

The device is also being used by GP surgeries to support clinical and non-clinical teams and the Mintridge Foundation, a charity dedicated to enhancing life skills in young people.  

CEO who saw his life brought to a screeching halt by a mental health crisis uses Moodbeam

Ian Braid (pictured) a former chief executive, now uses Moodbeam as part his recovery after being diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

Ian Braid (pictured) a former chief executive, now uses Moodbeam as part his recovery after being diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

Ian Braid, a former chief executive who saw his life brought to a screeching halt by a mental health crisis, uses the Moodbeam electronic ‘bracelet’ and app to record his activities and mood. 

The app analyses the triggers and gives advice, and can be shared with others who can keep an eye on the user. 

‘I have a trusted circle who view the app regularly and let me know if they have any concerns,’ says Ian.

Over 18 months, Braid developed insomnia, constant concerns about his job, low mood and an inability to relax, snowballing into debilitating thoughts. 

Scared, he went to see his GP the next day, and after scoring very highly on an anxiety questionnaire, he was told that ongoing work pressures had left him with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). 

GAD is defined as chronic worrying, along with high levels of nervousness and tension which are severe enough to interfere with someone’s ability to function day to day. 

It is often accompanied by symptoms such as insomnia, restlessness, nausea, loss of appetite, muscular pains and an inability to concentrate.

The trigger for Ian’s GAD, said doctors, was intense work stress, which had caused him to lose the ability to enjoy downtime with his family and his hobbies.  

After his diagnosis, Ian’s GP prescribed a high dose of antidepressants and he was signed off work for a month. 

Gradually, the medication began to regulate Ian’s appetite and sleep.

But it was seeing a psychotherapist, who specialised in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) — a talking therapy that challenges negative thought patterns — that really helped him get better, he says. 

Dr Billy Boland is chair of the general adult faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists and a consultant psychiatrist with the NHS, who is not affiliated with the app.

He believes products like Moodbeam can help people monitor their moods, but should be used as an add-on to, not a replacement for, conventional treatment.    

Read moreChief executive saw life screeching to a halt by mental health crisis 


Private school employees in Sharjah now need to undergo COVID-19 test every 14 days

Sharjah: Sharjah Private Education Authority (SPEA) has confirmed that it is evaluating the prevailing situation over the COVID-19 pandemic and has issued a circular to update the precautionary measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in schools and private educational institutions.

In its circular, SPEA stated that based on the developments related to COVID-19, and in the interest of the safety of all staff and students at educational institutions in Sharjah, all workers in private schools and educational institutions must undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test every 14 days, except for workers who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. If any staff member obtains a medical report or certificate approved by the health authorities, stating that they could not receive the vaccine owing to any prevailing medical condition, then it is incumbent upon the administration of the private institution concerned to ensure that the employee concerned undergoes a PCR test every 14 days.

The circular stipulated that if workers at private educational institutions need to visit the authority’s headquarters, they must present a negative PCR test report no more than three days old before entering the authority’s premises, except for those workers who have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The circular indicated that all educational institutions of the emirate are committed to feeding the TAMAM educational platform with information regarding the number of teachers and employees who have received the COVID-19 vaccine, the results of the tests conducted for COVID-19 and any other information that may be required by the authorities.

It was also mentioned in the circular that a corridor at Sharjah Expo Center had been designated for workers of private educational institutions who wish to visit the centre and get themselves vaccinated.

Technology US

Some Twitter employees have reportedly locked their accounts fearing reprisal from Trump supporters

Some Twitter employees have set their accounts to private and scrubbed their online biographies over concerns they may be targeted by supporters of President Trump, the New York Times reported. In addition, some Twitter executives have been assigned personal security as the company reckons with its decision to bar one of its loudest voices.

Trump’s @realDonaldTrump account was permanently suspended from Twitter January 8th, “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter said in its statement. The president told supporters at a rally just before an attack on the Capitol January 6th they would “have to show strength,” and “fight much harder,” encouraging them to walk down to the Capitol. Trump tweeted that Vice President Mike Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done,” and later — while the attack was still ongoing— tweeted “we love you” to his supporters. The House of Representatives impeached Trump a second time on January 13th for “incitement of insurrection.”

According to the Times, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who was working remotely from a private island the day the riot occurred, was not totally convinced a temporary ban on the president that day was the right decision. Twitter executives told Dorsey that the response to Trump’s tweets in the day after the riot suggested there was great potential for more real-world violence, ultimately leading to the permanent suspension.

More than 300 Twitter employees had signed an internal petition calling for a permanent Trump suspension, but according to the Times, the company had already decided at that point to ban the president. After Twitter announced its ban, Snapchat issued its own permanent ban, and Twitch and Facebook put indefinite bans on President Trump’s accounts. Facebook said in a statement explaining its decision, “The risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service… are simply too great.” In addition, Shopify took down Trump’s campaign store, a main source of sales of Make America Great Again hats and other merch.

In a tweet thread Wednesday, Dorsey said that banning Trump’s account was the right call. “Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all,” he wrote, adding that Twitter should “look critically at inconsistencies of our policy and enforcement.”


Phoenix system: nearly 150,000 federal employees can be compensated

The federal government on Thursday launched a new program to compensate nearly 150,000 public servants who suffered the inconvenience of the famous Phoenix pay system.

Ottawa explained that the implementation of this program had been expected since June 2019, when the government had reached an agreement with unions on the compensation offered to certain employees.

In all, 121,000 civil servants and 25,000 former government employees are eligible for this compensation.

Obviously, they will be able to claim this government assistance if they have suffered financial losses because of Phoenix. They are also entitled to it if they feel they have only experienced personal problems, including stress, due to failures in the pay system.

“We know that the Phoenix pay system has had an impact, direct or indirect, on public servants, and the Government of Canada continues to take action on all fronts to address pay issues,” the President said in a statement from the Treasury Board, Jean-Yves Duclos.

However, not all of those affected by the Phoenix loopholes will have access to the help announced on Thursday.


The new program does not apply to students, casual employees, employees working no more than one-third of the regular working hours, and term employees of less than three months.

However, the latter could soon be added to the list of people to be compensated under the class action which is currently before the courts.

Compensation is also not available to employees covered by the agreement signed in October by the Treasury Board and the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Another program has been put in place for these workers.

Since its implementation in the federal public service in 2016, the Phoenix system has caused a lot of ink to flow because of the errors it generates in the pay of federal employees.

Headlines UK

Two-thirds of NHS employees want to quit

They are unhappy with their pay

On January 11, the world celebrates the day of display of gratitude and appreciation, and this year was no exception. Many thanked the medical professionals for their dedicated work during the pandemic. However, according to the British trade union GMB, words alone will not be enough.

At the end of 2020, the union surveyed more than two thousand NHS employees and found that more than 60% of them are considering firing. As the reason, many cite the chronic underfunding of the medical industry, which began with the coming to power of the British Conservative Party. Union representatives stressed that the survey was conducted before the second peak in the incidence and tightening of coronavirus restrictions.

Since the NHS was formed in 1948, the organization’s annual budget has increased by an average of 3.7%, but since 2009 the growth has not exceeded 1.4%. GMB and thirteen other unions have called on the government to raise the salaries of medical workers and asked the public to highlight the problem on social media.

“Heroes deserve more than words and applause. The government needs to do something as soon as possible before the service collapses completely “– said the representative of the trade union GMB Rachel Harrison.

Headline USA

They won $ 1 million in the lottery; give $ 2,000 dollars to employees who sold them the ticket | The State

As for many people in the world, 2020 did not start in the best way for this couple from the state of Maine. During spring, Glenn Theriault and his wife Stephanie had to fire their dog Baxter, who was like his son.

But after that bitter drink, several events changed the life of this couple: first, their business began to work very well while others closed; Later, Stephanie found out that she was pregnant despite the medical prognoses and, moreover, they won $ 1 million in the lottery. They gave $ 2,000 to the employees who sold them the ticket in appreciation.

According to the Sun Journal, it all started on December 29, when went to a grocery store to buy 25 instant lottery tickets for $ 25 each. They usually do it regularly and give away the tickets to their employees, but this time they kept them for themselves.

When Glenn and Stephanie started scratching the bills, they made $ 50 in one and another $ 60 in two. But when Glenn scratched ticket number 11 he got a big surprise: they had won $ 1 million. They called the state lottery office, made an appointment to collect it, took a photo of the lucky ticket and deposited it in a bank safe.

They later sought out the cashier and the store manager who sold them the tickets to give each of them $ 1,000. “They were in shock and couldn’t believe it. The cashier started crying and couldn’t speak. It was a great feeling”Stephanie told the publication.

Now, the lucky couple are thinking about what to invest their remaining $ 710,000 after taxes. They are looking for properties for when it is time to retire and are investing in some improvements for their business. Undoubtedly, as the Mexicans say, her baby arrived “with a big cake under her arm.”



Employees of the Concorde Convalescence Center want to reassure

Acknowledging that the hospital-in-hotel model is not “perfect,” a group of 23 Concorde Convalescent Center (CDC) employees have come out publicly to ensure the facility is providing safe care.

• Read also: COVID-19: distressing conditions at the Concorde convalescence center

Last Wednesday, The newspaper relayed the denunciations of the nursing staff of the convalescence center dedicated to COVID-19 of the Grande Allée.

Deployed employees denounced conditions that expose them to a high risk of contamination, as well as the work overload that plunges many patients into inhuman conditions.

In a letter delivered Friday by the CIUSSS to Newspaper, 23 employees, specialized nurse practitioners, pharmacists and physicians, say they observe “dedicated teams and patients well treated despite the very specific context”.

Repercussions, according to them

The signatories of the letter fear negative repercussions on the families of patients staying at the convalescent center. They say families could worry “unnecessarily” about the care being provided.

“We also regret the possible impact on the workload and morale of the staff who are already working hard there,” the letter also read.

Constantly adapt

Employees reveal to face a multitude of issues to which staff continually adapt.

Among the issues, the letter mentions the constant arrival of new backup staff, the simultaneous admission of several users following an outbreak, the emotions experienced during deaths caused by COVID-19.

“From the start, the safety and quality of our care have been at the heart of our priorities. Today, we affirm our confidence in the Convalescence Center model […] and salute the work of all and the collaboration of the teams ”, mention the signatories.

The Grande Allée Convalescence Center was opened on April 16, 2020 for people with COVID-19 or suspected of having it and who are not able to isolate themselves in their living environment.

The Center resumed operations last October, with the arrival of the second wave.

Technology US

Hundreds of Twitter employees call for Trump to be banned

More than 300 Twitter employees have signed an internal petition calling for President Donald Trump to be permanently banned from the platform following a raid on the US Capitol on January 6th. Roughly an hour and a half after we published this story, Twitter apparently agreed — President Donald Trump has been permanently banned from Twitter.

The letter said that the employees are “disturbed” by the attack and that Twitter must “permanently suspend” Trump because of his involvement, according to a copy of the letter seen by The Verge. The Washington Post first reported on the letter’s circulation.

“We must examine Twitter’s complicity in what President-Elect Biden has rightly termed insurrection. Those acts jeopardize the wellbeing of the United States, our company, and our employees,” they wrote.

The letter writers also call for Twitter to “provide a clear account” of the company’s decision to temporarily suspend Trump’s account and to investigate “Twitter’s role in today’s insurrection.”

“We must learn from our mistakes in order to avoid causing future harm,” they wrote.

The letter has been signed by more than 300 people over the last two days, according to a person familiar with its circulation.

The pushback inside Twitter follows stronger action from Facebook, which suspended Trump indefinitely on Thursday. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms began removing posts or restricting his account on Wednesday after the president posted a video praising the mob that attacked the Capitol. The Alphabet Workers Union has also called on YouTube to ban Trump.

Twitter employees have been pushing back against leadership in company-wide Slack rooms as well. “I feel like we’ve bent over backwards to craft policies to allow Trump to stay up and to say what he has,” one employee wrote.

“This conversation has focused on how rigorously we have enforced our existing policies … Do we consider that there may be problems with our policies themselves?” wrote another.

On Thursday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sent a message to staff saying that the company’s actions around Trump were important for establishing trust.

“It’s important we follow a clear and public rule set that can endure beyond any one moment,” Dorsey wrote. “Why? In order to earn trust. I know it may not feel that way right now.”

Dorsey also argued that it was up to elected leaders to repair the damage from Wednesday’s attack. “We aren’t the government,” he said. “Our elected officials must do the work to right this and bring the country together. Our role is around the integrity of the conversation of that work, and doing everything we can to promote healthy discourse, knowing it’s not always going to be accepted in the short term. But it will be over the long term. I’m certain of that.”

Dorsey said that Twitter had drawn “a very clear line in the sand” by saying it would permanently suspend Trump if he further violated the platform’s rules. “If that line is crossed, we will do what we said we are going to do,” he wrote.

During a company all-hands meeting on Friday, employees were told there would be a “retrospective” on the company’s recent policy decisions, according to screenshots of a Slack conversation seen by The Verge. Employees were also urged not to leak more information to the media.

In a statement emailed to The Verge, a Twitter spokesperson said: “Twitter encourages an open dialogue between our leadership and employees, and we welcome our employees to express their thoughts and concerns in whichever manner feels right to them.”

Update, 5:16PM ET: Article updated with a statement from Twitter.

Update, 6:42PM ET: Twitter has now banned Trump.


COVID-19: UAE public sector employees must get PCR tests every 14 days

Illustrative purposes
Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: All employees working in the federal departments and ministries will now have to do a PCR test every 14 days at their own expense as of January 17, 2021, it was announced on Tuesday.

The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources today issued a circular to all federal ministries and entities introducing new COVID-19 measures that aim to address the pandemic at the level of the federal government, reduce its repercussions, and safeguard the health of employees.

The circular urged all federal authorities to take several COVID-19 measures, concerning their employees, employees of outsourcing and public services companies, as well as employees of consulting services and expertise houses with which they are contracted.

As for measures meant for employees of ministries and federal departments, the circular stipulated that they must get a negative PCR test every 14 days at the employee’s own expense.

However, employees who have taken the COVID-19 vaccine, and those who have obtained a report or a medical certificate approved by the official health authorities in the country indicating that they cannot receive the “COVID-19” vaccine due to their health or illness condition are exempted, provided that the federal government entity undertakes to conduct a PCR test for them every 14 days.

Meanwhile, employees of outsourcing companies, public services companies and the like, which are contracted with by federal government entities now or in the future, they must conduct a nasal swab test / PCR / every two weeks at the expense of their companies. This covers only employees who are present or will be present on a daily basis in the workplace of the federal entity. Employees who took the COVID-19 vaccine are excluded from this measure.

The circular also covers employees of consulting firms, expert houses and the like, in the event of being contracted with by the federal entities, especially if their employees are required to be present at the workplace of the entity to attend meetings, discussions and other tasks according to the contract. The federal government entity then must ensure that those employees have a valid PCR test for period of nor more than 3 days. Employees who received the COVID-19 vaccine are exempted.

The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources urged all ministries and federal authorities to encourage their employees and workers to go for the vaccine, saying that the Ministry of Health and Prevention has made COVID-19 vaccine available free of charge at all health centers affiliated with the ministry across all emirates as well as health centers belonging to the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi, in addition to a number of private hospitals.