Germany’s nationwide “emergency brake” system—the public health framework of rules and restrictions first implemented by the German government in April 2021 to help contain the spread of COVID-19—expired on June 30, 2021, and, slowly but surely, some semblance of normality has begun returning to German citizens’ private and working lives. Due to a sharp drop in COVID-19 infection rates in Germany and because of the progress of Germany’s vaccination campaign, the federal government recently determined that the time was right to relax restrictive measures.
During the pandemic, Mexico’s federal government has used a four-tiered biweekly traffic light monitoring system to alert residents to the epidemiological risks of COVID-19 and provide guidance on restrictions on certain activities in each of the country’s states. The federal government is currently evaluating the factors for measuring the epidemiological traffic light system, first implemented in June 2020, and, accordingly, the government has not issued the federal-level report for the period of July 19, 2021, through August 1, 2021.
The government of Canada announced, on July 19, 2021, that the Canada-U.S. border, which has been closed to non-discretionary travel since March 21, 2020, will be reopened for eligible Americans on August 9, 2021, at 12:01 AM EST, and September 7, 2021, for those elsewhere in the world.
The Pay Equity Act, which Canada’s federal government passed in 2018, is going into effect on August 31, 2021. The act aims to address the systemic gender-based discrimination faced by women in federally regulated sectors by achieving pay equity through proactive measures. The act will require all federally regulated employers to analyze their compensation practices, even if they have not received a complaint and even if they believe there is no wage gap in their organization.
In June 2020, the government of Mexico instituted a four-tiered traffic light epidemiological monitoring system to track the COVID-19 pandemic and align COVID-19–related mandates and restrictions with the health risks present in each of Mexico’s 32 states.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (also known as the “furlough scheme”) has been in operation since April 2020, as part of the United Kingdom government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme has enabled employers across the UK to retain their employees and protect jobs preventing unemployment and mass redundancies or reductions in force.
In its recent ruling in Hawkes v Max Aicher (North America) Limited, 2021 ONSC 4290, the Ontario Divisional Court ruled on an application for judicial review that the entire payroll of an employer that terminates the employment of an Ontario-based employee should be used to determine whether the employer’s payroll is at least $2.5 million per year, and therefore whether severance pay may apply. This decision reversed a ruling from the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) that was based on previous case law finding that only an employer’s Ontario payroll was considered for the severance pay threshold.
The United Kingdom is operating a traffic light system for foreign travel, and what passengers must do upon arrival in England depends on where they have been in the 10 days before they arrive.
The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to abate in Mexico, and as conditions have improved, the federal government has gradually eased COVID-19–related restrictions and lifted them entirely in 19 of the nation’s 32 states in accordance with the biweekly four-tiered traffic light epidemiological monitoring system.
The Government of Canada has announced the first phase of its plan to ease border restrictions for travelers entering Canada. Under the new policy, travelers whose vaccination status meets the criteria of “fully vaccinated” will be exempt from quarantine restrictions, mandatory hotel stays pending test results, and day-eight testing, provided all conditions are met.
In June 2020, governments around the world were centrally concerned with two issues: (1) what precautions to take to stem the ever-rising tide of COVID-19 cases and (2) how to keep national economies from falling apart due to the economic effects of the pandemic. A primary question for many countries became whether they could effectuate COVID-19 containment protocols without hurting their economies.
Employees may have a claim against their employers for access to information about all personal data processed by the employers pursuant to Article 15 (3), Sentence 1, of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)). Under the GDPR, employees have a right to access, among other things, information about the purposes of personal data processing, the recipients of the data processed, and the storage period relevant to the data.
In order to address the economic impact of COVID-19 on Ontario’s businesses, in June 2020 the Ontario government created a special leave called “infectious disease emergency leave” (IDEL) through Ontario Regulation 228/20 (O. Reg. 228/20).
On June 4, 2021, the European Commission adopted two new sets of standard contractual clauses (SCCs): one for data transfers from data controllers to data processors and one for data transfers from data exporters to data importers in the United States and other third countries. These new clauses update and replace the SCCs adopted in 2001, 2004, and 2010 that many employers currently use to legally transfer human resources (HR) data for employees based in the European Union (EU).
Mexico’s federal government has lifted all restrictions on business and social activities used to contain the spread of COVID-19 in 19 of Mexico’s 32 states—the highest number of states without such restrictions since the government implemented its four-tiered traffic light pandemic monitoring system one year ago this month.
On May 20, 2021, the Government of British Columbia passed Bill 13, which amended the Employment Standards Act to provide an employee with paid leave if he or she needs to stay home for reasons related to COVID-19. The bill also introduces a permanent paid illness or injury leave to take effect on January 1, 2022.
The Québec government recently proposed changes to the Charter of the French Language (also known as “Bill 101”) by presenting Bill 96, An Act Respecting French, the Official and Common Language of Québec, on May 12, 2021. The new bill notably aims to increase the use of French in workplaces and public spaces.
The dynamic development of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth a number of new regulations. On April 20, 2021, the second amendment to the SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (SARS-CoV-2-Arbeitsschutzverordnung) went into effect, requiring employers nationwide to offer employees who do not work exclusively from home offices COVID-19 tests at least once per week. The regulation also requires employers to offer employees with an increased risk of infection an opportunity to be tested for COVID-19 twice per week.
Mexico’s federal government is continuing to reopen more of the country as the pandemic appears to be waning, with half of the 32 states designated in green traffic light status—the status under which all business and social activity restrictions are lifted, according to the nation’s four-tiered COVID-19 monitoring system.
On May 24, 2021, the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión Social) (STPS) published guidance under the recently amended Mexican Labor Law in the Official Gazette of the Federation clarifying the outsourcing registration requirements for individuals and entities that provide subcontracting services. The amendment generally prohibits employers from subcontracting or outsourcing personnel, but includes carve-outs and exceptions under limited circumstances. The following provides a basic overview of the STPS outsourcing registration guidance.
For the sixth consecutive two-week COVID-19 reporting period, none of Mexico’s 32 states are in red traffic light status, the most stringent of the nation’s four-tiered monitoring system designed to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 23, 2021, an amendment to the Mexican Labor Law was published in the Official Gazette of the Federation. Below are the key points about the amendment and how they will affect employers that outsource or subcontract work.
After weeks of improving pandemic conditions in Mexico—since March 2021, none of Mexico’s 32 states has been classified in red status, the strictest tier of the federal government’s four-tiered COVID-19 traffic light monitoring system—there has been a slight regression in the epidemiological trend.
On April 29, 2021, the Government of Ontario stated that it plans to introduce the COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act. When passed, this legislation “would require employers to provide employees with up to three days of paid leave because of certain reasons related to COVID-19.” According to a government press release, the act would apply retroactively to April 19, 2021, and would expire on September 25, 2021.
As more Canadians become eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, provinces across Canada are implementing paid COVID-19 vaccination leave policies to incentivize workers to become vaccinated as soon as possible. These leave policies are being put into place as COVID-19 cases across Canada soar and the country races to vaccinate faster than infections can spread.
Millions of Canadian employees have been forced to work from home as a result of measures designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many of these employees continue to perform the same jobs they had before the pandemic started, just from different locations. However, the location where an employee preforms work often factors into which provincial employment standards legislation applies to the employment relationship.
On April 16, 2021, the government of Ontario announced its strictest COVID-19 response measures to date, responding to a continued increase in daily case counts despite a province-wide lockdown. The stay-at-home order, effective April 8, 2021, will be extended for an additional two weeks, for a total of six weeks. The Ontario government has also added new restrictions and increased workplace inspections to ensure employers are complying with all COVID-19–related health and safety measures.
The degree of pandemic risk in Mexico has been steadily improving nationwide, and since March 1, 2021, none of the 32 states has been required to halt all nonessential activities under the strictest tier—called the “red traffic light”—of the federal government’s four-tiered COVID-19 traffic light monitoring system.
On April 1, 2021, the government of Ontario activated its pandemic “emergency brake,” sending the entire province out of the five-tiered colour-coded framework and into the “shutdown” zone. The province implemented these shutdown zone measures on April 3, 2021, and they will remain effective “for at least four weeks.”
The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has held in Asda Stores Ltd v. Brierley and others that Asda supermarket retail employees can appoint Asda depot workers as their comparators in an equal pay claim despite their working in different ‘establishments’ of the business.