Insights Update - January 2024

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Atlas Team

Atlas helps innovative companies like yours to expand, onboard, manage and pay international teams in 160+ countries.

Published: 26 Jan 2024

Saudi Arabia - Plans to draw foreign talent

Saudi Arabia has introduced new residency programmes as an initiative to attract talent and boost the economy. The initiative aims to accelerate economic transformation in the country by creating employment opportunities. Residency holders will have the right to live and work in Saudi Arabia, and will also be eligible to get work permits for their family members.

This initiative is a part of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 economic transformation strategy, which seeks to end Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil and fossil fuels and to attract billions in foreign direct investment.

This has also come amidst a growing economic rivalry with the neighbouring country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to be the region's trade and business hub.

Canada - New Anti-Forced Labour Supply Chain Law

Canada’s new anti-forced labour legislation, the Forced and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act, will come into effect in January 2024, with due diligence reporting requirements starting on May 31, 2024.

Canada’s new Forced and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act requires covered Canadian entities to release board-approved reports detailing their efforts to prevent and mitigate forced labour and child labour in their supply chains. It also includes new penalties for companies and officers that fail to make these reports or if the reports include misleading statements.

Starting from 2024, each entity covered by the Act is required to submit an annual report to Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness before May 31st of each year. The Minister will post every filed report on an online register maintained by their office. This report must also be made publicly available by the entity itself, including being published in a conspicuous location on the covered entity’s website. Copies of annual reports must also be provided to shareholders of federal corporations, along with their annual financial statements.

The Act is the latest development in a global trend of increasing regulation of international supply chains, especially for labour rights, as well as efforts among North American governments to coordinate forced labour import restrictions.

Croatia - Amendments to the Income Tax Act and Minimum Wage Increase

As part of the ongoing tax reform in Croatia, the Income Tax Act was amended on October 3, 2023. Among the most notable changes are the abolishment of the personal income tax surtax and granting authority to cities and municipalities to set income tax rates within predetermined statutory limits.

As of January 1, 2024, the monthly minimum wage for full-time employees will increase by 20% to EUR 840 (Euros).

United Kingdom - HMRC Agent Update (Issue 115)

On December 20th, 2023, His Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) released its December Agent Update (Issue 115), which included guidance on digital or electronic signatures and changes to national insurance contributions:

Digital or electronic signatures

  • HRMC now accept digital or electronic signatures on forms 64-8, P87 and R40.

  • This includes scanned copies of signed forms and signatures signed on the screen of a digital device or displayed in a keyboard-typed font.

  • To be valid, the taxpayer must have provided the signature themselves.

National Insurance contributions (NICs) rate changes 2024

The rates of Class 1 Primary, 2 and 4 NICs are changing.

  • From 6 January 2024, the Class 1 Primary NIC rate reduced from 12% to 10%.

  • From 6 April 2024, the Class 2 NICs will no longer be required to be paid by self-employed individuals, and the rate of Class 4 NICs is reducing from 9% to 8%.

Current Affairs – We need to focus on Psychological Safety, not wellbeing, says LSE

According to new research by the London School of Economics (LSE), workplace wellbeing initiatives such as meditation apps, gym memberships, yoga and free lunches, are not that valuable to employees.

100 people were interviewed across the banking, finance, and professional services industries in the UK to create the 'Beyond Workplace Wellbeing' Framework to advise employers. Not one of the interviewees was in favour of the existing workplace wellbeing initiatives.

Interviewees noted that job demands, a lack of flexibility, and employee treatment were having a significant effect on their mental and physical health. Employees would prefer to pursue wellbeing initiatives in their own time, in their own way, and for employers to provide work-life balance, decent pay, reduce negatives aspects of the work place such as burnout, bullying and lack of career progression.

51% of employees highlighted the benefits of having autonomous working conditions, where they could decide the parameters of work completion, i.e. how, when, and where they completed their work. Autonomy allowed employees to create a workday that enabled them to be both productive and enhance their own wellbeing. For a third of employees, autonomy was also linked to greater work-life balance.

Implications for employers: Organisation wellbeing initiatives can be effective for boosting morale but ultimately, if employers want to improve work culture, they should focus on creating ‘psychologically safe’ work environments, reduce ‘ill-being’ and advocate for autonomous working conditions where employees can be productive and enhance their own wellbeing.