Ogletree Deakins International Employment Update

As protecting our organisations from the COVID-19 crisis has taken center stage in recent weeks, we have continued to monitor important developments from around the globe on other aspects of labor and employment law. This edition of our newsletter features such developments from around the world that international organisations will want to know about. As always, please scroll through the alphabetical list of countries for news applicable to the countries in which you are interested.

Bahraini Resolution on Pregnant Employees Prohibits Work in Hazardous Environments

Bahrain’s Resolution No. 84 of 2019 was issued by the Minister of Labor and Social Development prohibiting the employment of pregnant women in a number of hazardous environments. In particular, the resolution prohibits exposure to extreme heat, continuous physical exertion, harmful vibrations, exposure to radiation, exposure to bacterial infections, and exposure to certain hazardous materials.

Belgium: Spring Cleaning Tasks for Human Resources in 2020

Belgium has spent much of the last 12 months without a government following gridlock in coalition negotiations after the general election in May 2019. As such, there has not been any new legislation covering employment law. Here is a summary of topical actions that human resources (HR) professionals may want to take in 2020.

Bermuda Extends Parental and Vacation Leave Benefits

As of January 1, 2020, Bermuda employees are entitled to increased paid and unpaid maternity leave, and, for the first time, paid and unpaid paternity leave. Bermuda’s Parliament included the provisions in the Employment (Maternity Leave Extension and Paternity Leave) Amendment Act 2019, which amended the Employment Act 2000 (EA 2000).

Colombia Authorizes Electronic Signatures of Employment Agreements

In the past, Colombia required physical documentation in order to formalize and execute an employment agreement. This has been an increasing irritation for employers that wished to finalize various employment-related documents with telecommuting and/or virtual employees. Therefore, in order to relieve the parties from onerous documentation requirements and facilitate the hiring process, the ministry of labor issued Circular 060, 2018 authorizing electronic and/or digital signatures for entering into employment agreements.

Croatian Income Tax Reform Changes Target Freelancers

Law amendments made recently within the fourth Croatian tax reform have targeted the position of freelancers by introducing stricter requirements over the way they set up their business activities to continue to receive favourable tax treatment.

Germany Publishes Guidance Regarding Fines for GDPR Violations

When the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced, one of the central topics in the media was the possibility of large fines for data protection violations. Art. 83 of GDPR set benchmarks with a maximum fine of 20 million euros (or 4 percent of a company total worldwide turnover if greater), without, however, providing guidelines for calculation or determination of the amount of the fine.

Greece’s New Overtime Limits Amongst Latest Employment law Changes

The new year brought a number of changes to Greek employment laws, including the introduction of a new national general collective bargaining agreement and changes to legislation concerning overtime compensation at industrial enterprises and the classification of the fines for employment law infringements.

India Codifies and Consolidates Its Labor Laws on Wages

After lengthy negotiations, the Code on Wages, 2019 has been passed by the upper and lower houses of the Indian Parliament and has also received the assent of the president of India. The Code on Wages is now awaiting its effective date notification to become law.

Italian Privacy Authority Clarifies Safeguards on Use of CCTV in the Workplace

The president of the Italian privacy authority has reiterated the need for employers to follow the safeguards set out in Italian national legislation when considering closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance. This follows a decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) published in late 2019 that approved the actions of a Spanish supermarket that installed CCTV even though the employees were unaware of its installation.

Jordan’s Parliament Amends Labor Law to Address Wage Discrimination in the Workplace

Jordan recently took a step forward in the fight against discrimination in the workplace. A study previously showed that men earn 41 percent more than women in the private sector and 28 percent more in the public sector. In response to the wage gap, the Parliament of Jordan, in collaboration with the International Labor Organization, has amended Labor Law No. (8) of 1996 to prohibit unequal pay.

Kenya’s National Assembly Proposes New Rights for Nursing Mothers

Kenyan employers must provide lactation stations within their premises for breastfeeding mothers under the Health Cat, 2017 (Act), which took effect in July 2017. To further champion the cause for nursing mothers returning to work, The Breastfeeding Mothers Bill, 2019 was introduced in October 2019, in the National Assembly.

New Regulations Enhance Rights of Fixed-Term Employees in the Netherlands

Using fixed-term employment contracts has become more expensive for employers as a result of new regulations introduced in the Netherlands on January 1, 2020. The Dutch government wants to promote the use of permanent employment contracts (referred to in the Netherlands and many European countries as contracts for an indefinite period of time) and discourage use of less secure fixed-term contracts.

Peru Reinforces Occupational Safety and Health Regulations to Protect Employees

Occupational safety and health (OSH) is currently a hot labor topic in Peru. On December 30, 2019, the government issued Urgency Decree No. 044-2019 (UD) focused on reinforcing the inspection capacities of labor authorities and including severe penalties for noncompliance such as criminal liability for employers and temporary closure of the workplace.

Reporting to Russian Pension Fund Goes Online

Historically, employers have been required to log employees’ work experience and years of service in a distinct human resources (HR) document called a “labor book.” New legislation requires employers to now start logging this information in an electronic register. In anticipation of the change, employers may want to move their labor books into digital format.

Serbia’s Staff Leasing Is Finally Regulated

After several delays and various proposals and working groups, the law regulating staff leasing in Serbia was finally adopted in December 2019, and went into effect in March 2020. In many countries, staff leasing is referred to as agency work.

High Court of South Africa Decision Provides Hints on Relationship Between Terminating an Employment Contract and Dismissing an Employee

A recent case decided by the High Court of South Africa dealt with the curious interplay of an employee’s rights as they arise from both a written contract of employment and labor legislation. Although the judgment may at first seem confusing, a careful analysis sheds light on how these parallel sources of rights and obligations operate in conjunction.

New Pay Equity Laws in Switzerland

The revised Gender Equality Act will go into effect in Switzerland on July 1, 2020. It requires employers with 100 or more employees to conduct an internal wage equality analysis, to have the results of the analysis reviewed by an external body, and confirm the results in writing.

Thailand Updates Personal Data Protection Laws

Taiwan’s new Labour Incident Act (LIA) came into effect on 1 January 2020, representing a major overhaul of how labour disputes are handled. The LIA aims to strengthen protection for employees by simplifying access to the court system, but places additional burden on employers.

Divergence in Pay Between Women and Men in Shared Parental Pay Is Not Discriminatory, UK Supreme Court Rules

An employer that refused to offer a discretionary pay enhancement to a male employee who had availed himself of the statutory right to take shared parental leave did not run afoul of sex discrimination rules or breach the Equality Act 2010 (EA), even though the employer had offered the enhancement to a female employee taking statutory maternity leave, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom ruled in Chief Constable of Leicester v. Hextall.

UK’s New Bereavement Leave Law for Child Loss or Stillbirth

Parents in the United Kingdom who suffer the loss of a child or a stillbirth are now entitled to two weeks’ bereavement leave under the Parental Bereavement Leave Regulations 2020 (also known as “Jack’s Law”). The campaign for the law was spearheaded by Lucy Herd following the accidental drowning of her son Jack.