Global Newsletter: Ogletree Deakins International Employment Update - November 2019

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

Welcome to the latest issue of the Ogletree Deakins International Employment Update—a newsletter aimed at human resources professionals and in-house employment counsel operating on an international basis. Please scroll through the alphabetical list of countries below for news applicable to the countries relevant to your business.


Argentina’s Salary Increase Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement for Commerce Employees

Argentina’s ministry of labor (Ministerio de Producción y Trabajo) has approved a salary agreement executed within the framework of Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) No. 130/1975, which should, amongst other things, boost pay for applicable employees. This agreement was executed among the representatives of the corporate chambers and the relevant union. It is worth noting that this CBA is applicable to the majority of employment relationships in Argentina.


Australia’s New Protections for Whistleblowers

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing Whistleblower Protections) Act 2019, which came into effect on July 1, 2019, provides a strengthened whistleblower protection regime covering the corporate, financial, and credit sectors.


Bermuda’s Introduction of Minimum Wage Legislation

On July 30, 2019, Bermuda’s Parliament passed new legislation that will eventually require employers to pay their employees, for the very first time, (i) a minimum hourly wage (adjustable for inflation every three years) and (ii) a distinct living wage, representing the minimum hourly pay affording workers and their households a “socially acceptable standard of living.” Both private and public law employers will be affected, and parties will not be allowed to contract out of the new legal requirements.


Cambodia’s Seniority Payments: A New Burden or a Novel Solution?

Under the 2018 amendment of the Labour Law 1997, the manner in which an employee working under an unfixed-duration contract (UDC) receives severance has changed. What was previously an indemnity for dismissal under the old labor law has now become a so-called “seniority payment” under the new amendment. For employees under a fixed-duration contract, severance pay of at least 5 percent of total wages due throughout the term of the contract remains payable upon termination of employment.

Caribbean Netherlands

Use of Fixed-Term Employment Contracts to Be Restricted in Sint Maarten

New labor law legislation is awaiting approval by the parliament in Sint Maarten. Perhaps one of the most important changes that this legislation proposes is that entering into employment agreements for a definite period of time (i.e., fixed-term employment contracts) will be permitted only under certain conditions prescribed by law.


New Law in Chile Promotes Student Employment

Statistics show that the unemployment rate among young Chileans is higher than average among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, and many students cite the challenge of finding time to study while undertaking employment.


China: Should U.S. Employers Take Additional Precautions?

As the U.S.-China trade relationship and other political tensions surrounding the People’s Republic of China (PRC) mount, foreign companies find themselves with a different risk profile as to employees working or conducting business there. To manage risk properly, employers can step up visibility to their China operations and legal compliance and maintain awareness of latest enforcement practices.


New ILO Convention Conflicts With Columbian Harassment Regulations

In its 108th session, the General Conference of the International Labor Organization (ILO) issued the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (C190, June 21, 2019). This convention equates violence with harassment, providing them with equal status, and extends their scope beyond employees to other people, such as trainees, interns, apprentices, former employees, volunteers, job seekers, and other workers.


Croatia: New Regulations Regarding Student Work

The Student Employment Act is the first law in Croatia governing student work. It introduces a minimum hourly rate; prescribes higher remuneration for night work, work on holidays and Sundays, and overtime work; and equates the right to perform student work for full-time and part-time non-employed students.

Croatia’s New Whistleblower Law Is Introduced

New legislation has been introduced that provides protection to those who report irregularities in the workplace. The Protection of Reporters of Irregularity (Whistleblowers Act) prohibits actions that may hinder the reporting of irregularities and offers protection against retaliation. The act governs the procedure for reporting irregularities, the rights of persons who do so, and employers’ obligations.

Czech Republic

Changes to the Czech Labour Code: Home Office and Job-Sharing Trends

The Czech Labour Code is set to change for the first time in many years thanks to a significant revision in the pipeline. While this revision was originally scheduled to take effect in July 2019, the date has been pushed back due to the elections held in the first half of this year. The exact date on which the revision will take effect is not yet known, but is expected to be passed in the near future.


Ecuador’s New Obligation on Employers to Provide Breastfeeding Support Rooms

On April 23, 2019, the ministries of Health and Labor signed the Inter-ministerial Agreement 003-2019 in Quito, between. This agreement implemented regulations on lactation spaces for private companies. Private employers in Ecuador are now obligated to create and maintain a lactation support room in their facilities, in the event that they have a single employee nursing a child during the legally required period, which extends for the first year of the child’s life.


Contractual Termination (Rupture Conventionnelle) Is Invalid in France Unless Signed Copy Given to Employee

France’s Court of Cassation issued two judgments on July 3, 2019, concerning the validity of a contractual termination (rupture conventionnelle). These demonstrate that it is essential to give an employee a copy of the agreement (n° 18-14.414) and that this copy must be signed by both parties (n° 17-14.232) in order to be able to invoke the right of retraction and request the approval of the agreement (Cass. soc., 3 July 2019, n° 18-14.414 (FS – P+B) and Cass soc., 3 July 2019, n° 17-14.232 (FS – P+B)).


The New Right to Part-Time Work in Guatemala

On February 8, 2017, through decree number 2-2017, the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala approved the C175 Part-Time Work Convention, adopted by the General Conference of the International Labour Organization. In order to apply the convention, Governmental Decree number 89-2019 was issued, including regulations for the implementation of the convention, and took effect on July 5, 2019.


India’s Social Security Regime: Employers to Contribute to Universal Allowances

In 2019, the Supreme Court of India in its decision in The Regional Provident Fund (II) West Bengal v. Vivekananda Vidyamandir and Others (SC judgment) has put to rest the confusion regarding the interpretation of the term “basic wages” for the purpose of calculating provident fund (PF) contributions for eligible employees. The Supreme Court has clarified the legal position on whether an allowance paid to employees as part of their total salary, base salary, or cost-to-company would be subject to PF contributions.


Can AI Help Solve Ireland’s Most Pressing Employment Law Issues?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly becoming embedded in day-to-day life in Ireland. As technology becomes more cost-efficient, many businesses in Ireland are beginning to see value in incorporating AI. Irish businesses report that AI, when used correctly, can help solve some of the most challenging employment law issues.


Israel Imposes a “Duty to Make an Effort” Before Discharging Employees

According to a developing trend in recent labor court rulings, employers have a duty to make an effort to locate alternative positions for certain groups of employees (such as disabled employees and employees who are close to retirement age) before discharging them. The court has noted that the scope of this duty and the actions it requires will vary from case to case and that that duty stems from the duty to act in good faith and be transparent in the scope of labor relations.


Jordan’s New Labour Law Amendments Impact the Employment Relationship

Jordanian Labour Law No. (8) of 1996 is the primary piece of legislation governing the relationship between employers and employees in Jordan. In mid-May 2019, this law was amended by Law No. (14) of 2019, which was issued in the Official Gazette. The amended law introduces new provisions that impact 40 articles of the Labour Law.


Kenya’s New Laws on Pension Reform and Registration Requirements

Employees will have less access to their pension fund upon termination of employment as a result of legislation aimed at ensuring employees have enough money in their funds when they reach retirement age. This was done through an amendment to the Retirement Benefits (Occupational Retirement Benefits Schemes) Regulations, 2000 promulgated under the Retirement Benefits Act, 1997.


Lithuania’s New Whistleblowing Obligations for Companies With 50 or More Employees

The Law on Protection of Whistleblowers and Government Regulation No. 1133 on Implementation of the Law have taken effect and require both public and private employers with 50 or more employees to have an internal channel for whistleblowing reporting, such as a phone number, email address, or communications app. They are also required to appoint a competent person to investigate reports, inform employees about the procedures of investigation, and ensure the confidentiality and protection of the whistleblower.


Mexico Mandates Protection From Workplace “Psychosocial Risks”

Globalization, technology, and the global economy, among other factors, have transformed the way we work. As a result, employees must deal with circumstances that today scientists may classify as “psychosocial risks.” International organizations are trying to raise awareness of psychosocial risks in order to prevent them from damaging employee health, both physical and psychological.


Update on Myanmar’s Occupational Health and Safety Law, 2019

The Occupational Health and Safety Law, 2019 (OHSL) was enacted on March 15, 2019. It aims to implement measures for occupational health and safety across every industry, and it sets out the responsibilities of employers and employees. Though the law has been enacted, its enforcement will not begin until the president issues a relevant notification.

New Zealand

New Zealand: Employment Case Law Update

Three recent decisions cover a variety of interesting matters in the employment sphere, including requirements for fixed-term employment agreements, “availability provisions,” and the circumstances in which the Employment Relations Authority or Employment Court may unilaterally fix the provisions of a collective employment agreement.

North Macedonia

North Macedonia’s New Internship Law

The government has passed legislation aimed at encouraging companies to engage interns for fixed periods of up to six months. The use of internships allows companies to hire workers at a rate below the minimum wage while providing them training and experience. It is hoped that this will help interns gain experience and enter the labor market, as well as help companies train future employees based on their customized needs.


Norway’s Supreme Court Rules on Employment Terminations

In a recent decision, the Supreme Court of Norway ruled that the threshold for justified termination of employment is lower if the employee is offered an alternative position in the company. This decision provides an important clarification for employers.


Peru’s Amendments Strengthen the Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

The Peruvian government has passed a comprehensive reform of the current anti-harassment framework, including the criminalization of sexual harassment. Legislative Decree No. 1410 modifies both Law No. 27942, Law on Prevention and Punishment of Sexual Harassment, and the Criminal Code to include new safeguards for victims of sexual harassment as well as criminal sanctions against perpetrators.


Qatar’s New Regulations for Expatriates

New regulations have been introduced that govern the entry, exit, and residence of expatriates in Qatar, including the obligation for a sponsoring employer to provide a bank guarantee for a residency permit.


Effects of the New Data Protection Laws on HR Practices in Serbia

In response to the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Serbia has introduced a new data protection law that took effect on August 21, 2019. The law aims to broadly follow GDPR principles, and it marks a marked change in the way personal data must be handled in Serbia. It is expected to result in Serbian companies making many changes to their practices.

South Korea

South Korea’s New Workplace Harassment Laws

An amendment to the Labor Standards Act (LSA) containing new provisions regulating workplace harassment has taken effect. This amendment is the first instance in Korea of legislation that expressly defines and sets forth fundamental principles to regulate workplace harassment, and it applies to any workplace with five or more employees.


New Laws in Spain Mandating the Recording of Working Time Confound Employers

Due to Spain’s general elections in April, there have been essentially no legislative developments in the second quarter of 2019. However, the weeks before the closing of the previous government term saw a lot of legislation, including relevant developments for employment and human resources managers; namely, new decrees on maintaining a working hours registry and employees’ working time arrangement possibilities.


New Legislation Aims to Increase Security, Order, and Integrity During Court Proceedings in Sweden

In Sweden, there is a legal principle that any case settled in court is settled in the public eye, with full transparency, and most often the proceedings are open to the public. However, this has sometimes led to disruptive or disorderly conduct from spectators. For instance, law clerks that train to become judges in Sweden are advised during training not to request a person in a courtroom to take off their hat or put down their phone, as there is no way to enforce a request of that nature. Rather than risk losing authority, a judge might let that type of behaviour pass.


Increased Protection for Dispatch Workers and Permanent Residents in Taiwan

In response to the increasing use of dispatch employment (known as agency work in many other countries) and the popularity of the gig economy, amendments to the Labor Standards Act took effect on June 21, 2019, strengthening the protection of workers in this sector. Specifically, employment agencies can now sign only permanent contracts with dispatch employees, rather than fixed-term contracts.

United Arab Emirates

UAE: DIFC Subject to New Employment Law

A new employment law for the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) took effect on August 28, 2019, replacing the previous law in its entirety. The DIFC is an independent free zone that is home to many leading financial institutions, law firms, and other professional services companies.

United Kingdom

UK Supreme Court Clarifies “Blue Pencil” Test in Restraint of Trade Cases

On July 3, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom issued a decision that clarified the correct approach to deciding whether courts can sever words from a post-employment covenant to leave an employee bound by the remainder of the covenant. In Tillman v Egon Zehnder Ltd, the Court held that courts may sever parts of such contracts and leave the rest enforceable.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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