ANNUAL REVIEW

Labour & Employment 2017

July 2017  |  LABOUR & EMPLOYMENT

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Despite the march of isolationism and protectionism highlighted by the UK’s ‘Brexit’ vote and the election of Donald Trump in the US, globalisation of the world’s labour market continues at pace. The modern working demographic is in a state of flux. As more and more millennials enter the job market, employee expectations are shifting. As such, companies must be willing to be flexible in determining compensation packages and providing the work-life balance that employees now prioritise. In an increasingly competitive global economy, companies need to do more to retain their key talent. Employee friendly incentive schemes can make a difference.

 

UNITED STATES

Richard William Kidd

Kirkland & Ellis LLP

“The Trump administration continues to rollback Obama-era, employee-friendly federal rules, including a law increasing the minimum salary level in order for certain employees to be exempt from federal overtime laws, which would have resulted in significant pay increases for many employees; guidance aimed at expanding joint and several liability for employment law violations committed by company business partners such as franchisees, contractors and staffing agencies; and rules aimed at requiring labour organisers, consultants and attorneys to disclose contacts with employers in furtherance of union avoidance efforts.”

 

CANADA

Francois Garneau

Miller Thomson LLP

“This year, Canadian legislators have been particularly prolific compared to judges, and we expect changes in the employment standards of at least four provinces. After two years of independent review, and despite the polar opposite views of economists on the subject, the Ontario government unveiled the proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act and Labour Relations Act at the end of May 2017, which include a rise of the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2019. In Quebec, wages have been raised from $10.75 an hour to $11.25 an hour, as of 1 May 2017, which is the highest annual increase since 2010.”

 

MEXICO

Francisco Peniche Beguerisse

Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enriquez, S.C.

“In February 2017, a constitutional amendment was approved by Congress. Its main features included the announcement that conciliation and arbitration labour boards are to be replaced by labour courts. These new courts will belong to the judiciary branch instead of the executive, as was the case with the older board. Furthermore, unions that enter into collective bargaining agreements must prove that they represent the employees. Finally, prior to litigation, parties must go through a new conciliatory procedure. These modifications must be enforced by February 2018. New reforms to tax legislation provide additional obligations that must be complied with by the parties in subcontracting structures.”

 

ARGENTINA

Enrique M. Stile

Marval, O’Farrell & Mairal

“Over the past 12 years, Argentina has seen high inflation, increasing numbers of lawsuits, salary increases and high union activity. Judges appointed during this period have also created court precedents that are very favourable to employees and unions. This has created a very high employment cost which has triggered rightsizings and the closure of many businesses. The new government is trying to create better employment conditions to attract investments, generate local employment and become more competitive. This is proving difficult, however, because the main political party, currently in the opposition, derives much of its votes from workers and does not support open market reforms.”

 

UNITED KINGDOM

Jonathan Fenn

Slaughter and May

“The last 12 months have seen substantial political upheaval in the UK, starting with the Brexit referendum and continuing with the recent general election. The government has committed to convert EU employment law into UK law, although some changes may be needed to legislation which envisages the UK being part of the EU, such as that governing European Works Councils. Whilst it is unlikely that the government will look to make any substantive changes to EU-derived employment law immediately following Brexit, it is unclear for how long that position will continue. In light of this upheaval, there has been relatively little new employment law implemented this year.”

 

FRANCE

Grégory Chastagnol

Fromont Briens

“Four notable bills have been enforced over the last 12 months. The Sapin II Act, which came into force in December 2016, implemented specific protections for whistleblowers. Companies employing more than 50 employees must establish an in-house whistleblowing procedure. Equally, specific procedures and protections are defined for companies in the banking and financial sectors. Under the Justice Modernization Act, enacted in November 2016, employees, interns and applicants may now launch class actions against their employer in the event that they encounter discrimination.”

 

SPAIN

Sonia Cortés

Abdon Pedrajas & Molero

“Four notable bills have been enforced over the last 12 months. The Sapin II Act, which came into force in December 2016, implemented specific protections for whistleblowers. Companies employing more than 50 employees must establish an in-house whistleblowing procedure. Equally, specific procedures and protections are defined for companies in the banking and financial sectors. Under the Justice Modernization Act, enacted in November 2016, employees, interns and applicants may now launch class actions against their employer in the event that they encounter discrimination.”

 

ITALY

Guido Callegari

De Berti Jacchia Franchini Forlani

“The most notable development is the so-called ‘Jobs Act’, which is a set of decrees issued in 2015 with a view to reforming many of the most important pieces of Italian legislation governing employment. Among the key regulations which were reviewed by the government, it is worth mentioning those regarding unemployment wages, individual dismissals, collective dismissals, ‘shock absorbers’ and social relief connected to fixed-term employment contracts. Moreover, in 2017, parliament approved a new Act improving the existing legislation governing self-employment and introducing new regulation for smart working.”

 

FINLAND

JP Alho

Krogerus Attorneys Ltd

“A new chapter of the Finnish labour market began with the endorsement and signing of the Competitiveness Pact between the Finnish government and labour market organisations. This nationwide labour market pact aims to improve the competitiveness of labour and businesses, create new jobs, support fiscal adjustment and promote local collective bargaining practices. The Competitiveness Pact will affect the Finnish labour market as a whole, for example, there will be no general rise in wages, nor will the annual working time be extended by 24 hours without additional remuneration.”

 

RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Alexander E. Karpukhin

Orient Partners

“The main changes to labour and employment legislation over the last year relate to salary payment procedures, which do not influence the overall picture. An important development was the extension of the statute of limitation as regards salary and other payments, from three months to one year. Another notable issue is that the Russian Ministry of Labor’s professional standards became obligatory as of 1 July 2016. The professional standard is a list of requirements and qualifications which apply to certain categories of jobs, such as doctors and accountants.”

 

JAPAN

Kunihiro Sumida

Atsumi & Sakai

“A recent major change in the field of employment law has been improving assistance to workers to allow a better balance of work and family care, childcare and family nursing support. In accordance with such a trend, amendments to the Employment Insurance Act and other laws relating to the expansion of childcare leave, family nursing leave, the prevention of maternity harassment, child birth, childcare and family nursing leave took place on 1 January 2017. These amendments provide a number of measures, such as making it easier to take childcare leave, by, for example, expanding childcare leave to fixed-termed contractors and increasing their ability to take childcare leave.”

 

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Chris Williams

Bracewell LLP

“The past 18 months have seen a number of developments affecting onshore labour relations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), predominantly in the form of ministerial resolutions. These resolutions have dealt with, among other things, issues such as the implementation of a new standard form employment contract, a requirement for the terms of offer letters to be reflected in an employee’s subsequent employment contract and changes to notice provisions under fixed term and unlimited term employment contracts. It is important to note that these resolutions have not caused the principal labour law in the UAE – Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 (as amended) – to be amended.”


CONTRIBUTORS

Abdon Pedrajas & Molero

Atsumi & Sakai

Bracewell LLP

Creel, García-Cuéllar, Aiza y Enriquez, S.C.

De Berti Jacchia Franchini Forlani

Fromont Briens

Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Krogerus Attorneys Ltd

Marval, O’Farrell & Mairal

Miller Thomson LLP

Orient Partners

Slaughter and May

 


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