In the Spotlight

In the Spotlight

Regularly showcases one of the Squire Patton Boggs latest employment law resources that support global employment counsel and senior HR leaders. Please also check out our knowledge hub for details of our latest blogs, insights and events. 

May 2024

Global

Implementation of the EU Pay Transparency Directive – Where Are We Currently?

How transparent are your pay practices and procedures? Do you have systems in place to enable you to categorise workers who do the same work or work of equal value? Do you provide job applicants with information about initial pay or pay ranges for the position applied for?
These are chief among the questions that businesses with operations in continental Europe should be asking themselves now if they want to comply with the requirements of the Pay Transparency Directive from 7 June 2026, with the new gender pay gap reporting obligations applying from 7 June the following year.

Read Full Insight .

UK

New Duty on Employers to Prevent Sexual Harassment at Work in the UK

Why doesn’t someone tell us what we need to do?
It should be a principle of good law, you would think, that you know what you have to do to comply with it. So why, when asked to provide that clarity in advance of the positive duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment coming into force in October, has the government refused to do so?

Read Full Insight.

Pros and Cons of Electronic Visas

Why doesn’t someone tell us what we need to do?
It should be a principle of good law, you would think, that you know what you have to do to comply with it. So why, when asked to provide that clarity in advance of the positive duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment coming into force in October, has the government refused to do so?

Listen to the Full Podcast.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace – A Global Perspective

Tackling workplace sexual harassment remains a key priority for legislators and regulators globally, meaning that employers who fail to take proactive steps to address this issue may be subject to increasing legal liabilities, not to mention damaging PR in the Court of Public Opinion. Further, with various countries introducing new obligations on employers this year to prevent sexual harassment, the global spotlight on this issue seems set to continue.

Watch the Full Recording.

Labour & Employment UK Webinar Programme – Disciplinary Issues in the Workplace

Our webinar provided practical advice on the key issues to be aware of when taking disciplinary action that may lead to the termination of employment.

We covered:

  • Practical hints and tips to ensure your proceedings and dismissals will stand up to scrutiny before an employment tribunal
  • The most common mistakes made by managers and how to avoid them
  • Typical problems, such as employees who go off with stress or raise grievances mid-process An effective paper trail – why it is important and what it should look like

Watch the Full Recording.

Europe

Is your use of AI in the workplace compliant and guided by policies? (Germany)

The recent decision of the Hamburg Labour Court concerning a German works council’s attempt to enforce a ban on the use of AI in a workplace makes it clear once again that employers cannot simply let the use of AI run its course unchecked.

Read Full Blog.

Former employees’ rights of access in Belgian HR matters: when jottings may come back to haunt you

In a decision of 8 April , the Belgian Data Protection Authority has reminded employers of the reach of the GDPR principle of right of access by the data subject.

An employee of a school who had left more than 5 years earlier asked for access to his full personnel file and to “every document mentioning his name”.

Read Full Blog.

Asia Pacific

Potential Legal Risks Arising From Common Business Practices

In light of significant changes to Australian labour and employment laws over the past 18 months, it is important for employers to take the time to review and update their current contracts, policies and workplace practices. We have summarised the top five potential legal risks arising from common business practices to help Australian employers ensure that they are compliant with recent legislative developments.

Read Full Insight.

Americas

Could Artificial Intelligence Create Real Liability for Employers? Colorado Just Passed the First U.S. Law Addressing Algorithmic Discrimination in Private Sector Use of AI Systems (US)

On May 17, 2024, Colorado became the first U.S. state to pass a law aimed at protecting consumers from harm arising out of the use of artificial intelligence (“AI”) systems. Senate Bill 24-205, or the “CAIA,” is designed to regulate the private-sector use of AI systems and will impose obligations on Colorado employers, including affirmative reporting requirements. The CAIA, which will take effect on February 1, 2026, applies to Colorado businesses that use AI systems to make, or that are used as a substantial factor in making, employment decisions.

Read Full Blog.

In a Rare Win for California Employers, Good Faith is Good Enough to Avoid Wage Statement Penalties (US)

As California employers know all too well, the state is notorious for its employee-friendly laws that can be difficult to navigate and create administrative and compliance headaches. Even the most diligent employers can find themselves on the wrong end of the law for minor, inadvertent errors, subjecting them to harsh and expensive penalties.

Read Full Blog.

Fourth Circuit Holds Firm Against Expansion of Religion-Based Defenses to Discrimination (US)

Lonnie Billard was a well-loved and decorated drama and English teacher at Charlotte Catholic High School (CCHS) in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He was named Teacher of the Year in 2012 after serving the Catholic high school’s students for eleven years.

Read Full Blog.

April 2024

UK

When making reasonable adjustments is a real trial (UK)

Everyone knows that if there is something about a job which causes a disabled employee particular difficulties with it, the employer is under an obligation to make reasonable adjustments to the role to reduce or remove that disadvantage.

Read Full Blog.

Clarity covers a multitude of sins – Court of Session restores order to settlement agreement waivers (UK)

Everyone knows that if there is something about a job which causes a disabled employee particular difficulties with it, the employer is under an obligation to make reasonable adjustments to the role to reduce or remove that disadvantage.

Read Full Blog.

I won’t take this sitting down – how to escape liability for kind thoughts in the workplace (UK)

Into the second half of April we go with a strong contender for the No Good Deed prize in the 2024 Has it Really Come to This? Awards,.

Employers staring aghast at news in the Times on Saturday that “Offering a seat to older staff risks discrimination” should not worry – there is a great deal less to the case than is reported.

Read Full Blog.

Europe

Online Right to Work Check Issues

All UK employers are required to carry out pre-employment right to work checks, as discussed in episode 3. Most checks for those with UK visas are now carried out online, which should make the process smoother. Listen to May Cheung and Osheenn Giam discuss some of the issues that crop up when employers use the Home Office’s online right to work checking service.

Listen to the Full  Podcast.

Belgium – the double or triple whammy of employment protection indemnities

In Belgian law, there are certain periods of employment during which there are greater than usual restrictions on an employer’s ability to dismiss an employee. These include periods of maternity, parental and other types of care leave. Parting company with employees during any period when they are protected against dismissal can become a costly affair, as a protection indemnity will be due on top of the statutory severance payment. In most cases, this protection indemnity amounts to six months’ salary.

Read Full Blog.

Workplace harassment in Germany: questions over compensation

In a prior post in our German Workplace Harassment series, we discussed possible measures and sanctions employers may take against harassers in their company and some relevant court rulings. Today we would like to examine the question of compensation for harassment from the perspective of the victim.

Read Full Blog.

Americas

OSHA Final Rule Clarifies Employees’ Walkaround Representative; Opens Non-Union Workplaces to Union Representatives (US)

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) published its controversial final “walkaround” rule on April 1, 2024 (available here). The final rule clarifies the rights of employees to authorize a representative – employee or non-employee – to accompany an OSHA compliance officer (CSHO) during an inspection of their workplace.

Read Full Blog.

FTC Bans Non-Competes Throughout the US

In a long-anticipated move that dramatically alters the employment landscape, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued its final Non-Compete Clause Rule (final rule) effectively banning employee non-compete agreements throughout the US. After receiving over 26,000 public comments, the FTC determined that the use of non-compete agreements with workers constitutes an “unfair method of competition” in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.

Read Full Insight.

New DOL Rule Makes More Employees Eligible for Overtime Pay (US)

Last year, we alerted you to a rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that would raise the weekly salary amounts necessary to qualify for certain exemptions to the requirement under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that employers pay employees time-and-a-half for hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a work week. On April 23, 2024, the DOL released its final version of that rule, which will directly impact how employers classify and compensate their employees and will expand overtime eligibility by raising the salary thresholds required to qualify for exemptions from overtime pay under the FLSA.

Read Full Blog.

EEOC Updates Workplace Harassment Guidelines Reinforcing Protections for LGBTQ+ Employees (US)

For the first time in 25 years, on April 29, 2024, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) published final guidance on harassment in the workplace, updating the federal workplace guidelines to provide protections for transgender workers related to misgendering and the denial of bathroom access. This new guidance reflects the 2020 U.S Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County (as we discussed previously here), a landmark decision which held that Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination extends to bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Read Full Blog.

FTC Bans Non-Competes Throughout the United States – Legal Challenges Already Filed (US)

In a long-anticipated move that dramatically alters the employment landscape, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) issued its final Non-Compete Clause Rule (“final rule”) effectively banning employee non-compete agreements throughout the United States. After receiving over 26,000 public comments, the FTC determined that the use of non-compete agreements with workers constitutes an “unfair method of competition” in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.

Read Full Blog.

DC Circuit Gives NLRB a “Stern” Warning (US)

It’s never a good sign when a court calls your reasoning “nonsense” or instructs your lawyers to “brush up” on their familiarity with legal doctrines. But that’s exactly what a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit did in a decision that overturned the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB or Board) ruling on two unfair labor practice claims against an Arizona-based produce distribution company.

Read Full Blog.

The DOL Updates the QPAM Exemption from Prohibited Transaction Restrictions under ERISA (US)

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended (“ERISA”) and the Internal Revenue Code Of 1986, as amended (“Code”) contain broad prohibitions on transactions between ERISA-covered employee benefit plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (“Plans”), as well as certain people or entities closely connected to such Plans, known as “parties in interest” or “disqualified persons”.

Read Full Blog.

EEOC Releases Final Rule Implementing Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (US)

Congress passed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) on June 27, 2023. The law requires covered employers—which, in the private sector, includes those with 15 or more employees—to provide a reasonable accommodation to a qualified employee’s or applicant’s known limitations related to, affected by, or arising out of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship.

Read Full Blog.

March 2024

UK

UK Business Immigration – What’s in Store for 2024? 

Watch our March Business Immigration webinar recording, where Annabel Mace and May Cheung bring you up to speed on key UK immigration changes in the pipeline, particularly those affecting employers that sponsor (or are looking to sponsor) non-British/Irish talent under the Skilled Worker route of the Home Office’s Points Based System

Watch Full Video.

When the ET won’t bite back – limits on strike out-powers (UK)

Rule 37 of the 2013 ET Rules of Procedure contains the Tribunal’s nuclear deterrent, the power to strike out part or all of a claim or defence. That big red button can only be pushed for a small number of specified reasons including (for today’s purposes) Rule 37(b) that the manner in which proceedings have been conducted has been scandalous, unreasonable, or vexatious; or 37(e) that the Tribunal considers that it is no longer possible to have a fair hearing of the claim. These appear to be separate grounds, such that (b) doesn’t require prejudice to a fair hearing while (e) does. However, established case law has ruled that (e) is in fact a pre-requisite of a strike out for almost any reason.

Read Full Blog.

Impact of Civil Penalty Increased to £60,000 in the UK

The civil penalty for illegal working in the UK has increased from £20,000 to £60,000 per employee, with the higher amount applying to breaches occurring on or after 13 February 2024. In this episode, Annabel Mace and May Cheung discuss why penalties are issued, how they might be defended or reduced and the broader impact for UK employers.

Listen to the Full Podcast.

UK Labour & Employment Quarterly Board Briefing – Looking to Q2 2024 and Beyond

We know that employment law and people issues are increasingly a strategic priority for boards, as they grapple with fast-moving legislative and regulatory changes – many of which have wider consequences from an ESG and/or Sustainability perspective.

Our Quarterly Board Briefing includes a tracker which aims to provide boards with a guide to key upcoming legal changes, including critical dates, suggested actions and an assessment of any risk/opportunities arising.

Read Full Insight.

UK Business Immigration: Skilled Worker visa salary hike on 4 April 2024 – what employers need to know

The Home Office announced a number of immigration-related changes in December 2023, including a significant increase in minimum salary thresholds for Skilled Worker visas. The finer detail, in the form of new Immigration Rules, will be published on 14 March with most of the changes coming into effect on 4 April 2024.

Read Full Blog.

Hot UK Employment Law Issues in 2024

2024 looks set to be a busy year on the employment law front, with a flurry of legislative changes coming into force in April 2024 and more developments likely over the next 12 to 18 months.
Watch our March Employment Law webinar recording to find out what should be on your to-do list over the next 12 months and what changes you may need to make to your employment documentation, including your practices and procedures.

Watch Full Video.

Skilled Worker Visa Changes Confirmed – What Should Employers Do Now?

The Home Office has published the latest Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules, so providing long-awaited detail on increases in minimum salary thresholds for Skilled Worker visas, which will take effect from 4 April.

Read Full Insight.

UK Holiday and Holiday Pay Checklist

As we highlighted in our alert, there have been a number of changes recently to the Working Time Regulations 1998 in relation to holidays and holiday pay. If you have not done so already, now is the time to review your holiday/holiday pay practices to ensure they are compliant with the new statutory obligations and that you are minimising the scope for any future claims arising from noncompliance.

Read Full Insight.

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) Allocation Requests

A hot topic for UK employers using the Skilled Worker visa route is how to obtain Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) allocations quickly, so that the visa applications can be submitted ahead of the increase in salary thresholds coming into force from 4 April 2024. In this episode, Annabel Mace and Osheenn Giam discuss practical issues relating to CoS allocation requests and how to expedite them.

Listen to the Full Podcast.

What Key Employment Law Changes are Coming into Effect Next Month in the UK? 

A quick reminder of the key employment law changes coming into effect in April.

If you would like further information about these (and other expected developments during 2024), you can listen to the recording from our recent employment law update webinar, in which we discussed the changes outlined above in more detail. 

Read Full Insight.

Diversity and Inclusion in the Financial Sector Roadmap

It is well known that the financial services sector is not representative of the general population. With this in mind, in late September last year, the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) each published consultation papers. The proposals within the papers are largely aligned, but they do diverge in some respects. Their aim is to “drive change” by linking diversity and inclusion (D&I) to a firm’s overall strategy, ensuring that strategy is embedded in the firm’s day-to-day operations and culture, requiring firms to gather D&I data to inform improvement, and developing an understanding of “what good looks like” across the sector.

Read Full Insight.

Europe

Workplace Harassment in Germany: “We take all allegations regarding harassment seriously” – but what are the consequences? 

In the third of our short series “Workplace Harassment in Germany”, Laura Sparschuh takes a look at some recent court rulings regarding harassment.

Read Full Blog.

Does permitting the use of AI in employment call the works council into action? Not necessarily, says the German Labour Court 

The use of ChatGPT and its peers to make work easier and faster – whether permitted, tolerated or prohibited – is already part of everyday working life in many companies. However, the spread of that technology has raced far ahead of the law so the legal consequences of that use (employment rights and obligations, data protection, employee inventions, etc.) are in many cases still far from clear.

Read Full Blog.

Americas 

Work is Where the Tax Is: Navigating the “Convenience of the Employer” Rule (US) 
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020, teleworking has been at the forefront of work-life-balance conversations and has become an increasingly popular option for employees. Not only did it make sense for most, but it called into question the true commitment required to pay for a higher cost of living, particularly when several cities saw increases in state and local taxes over the past few years. The result? Employees began emigrating from cities to lower-cost-of-living locations to work remotely for city-based companies.

Read Full Blog.

Texas Tells Employers No COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates Permitted (US)

Squire Patton Boggs’ Legal Intern Amber Bouie addresses new legislation impacting Texas employers.

COVID-19 vaccinations have been the subject of workplace chatter since the vaccines became widely available in late 2020. At first, some states barred government employers from requiring employees receive vaccinations as a condition of continued employment, leaving private sector policies up to the individual employers. This level of discretion is now evolving.

Read Full Blog.

New York State and City Anti-Discrimination Laws Apply to Non-Residents Seeking Employment in New York (US)

In 2010, the New York Court of Appeals (which is the highest state court in New York) established a test to determine the territorial scope of the New York State Human Rights Law (“NYSHRL”) and the New York City Human Rights Law (“NYCHRL”) – each of which protect employees and applicants for employment from employment-based discrimination. In Hoffman v. Parade Publs., a former employee of a New York City-based company sued under the NYSHRL and NYCHRL for age discrimination after being terminated by his employer. 15 NY3d 285 (2010).

Read Full Blog.

Apple v. Rivos: Lessons for Companies Facing Claims of Trade Secret Theft (US) 

Your General Counsel receives a “cease and desist” letter from a competitor, alleging that the company’s new hire from that competitor has taken trade secrets and accusing the company of misappropriation. Your company has no need for those trade secrets and wants to compete fairly. What steps can be taken to forestall litigation?

Read Full Blog.

Federal Court Strikes Down NLRB’s Expansive Joint Employer Rule (US)

In a decision providing significant relief for employers, a federal court in Texas struck down the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) 2023 joint employer rule.[i] Being designated a joint employer by the NLRB can have far-reaching consequences for a business, including potential obligations to negotiate with unions representing workers not directly employed by the business and shared liability for labor law violations committed by another employer.

Read Full Blog.

February 2024

Europe

Good Workplace Culture? The Law Is Changing: Get Up To Speed and Stay On The Right Side Of The Law With Our Diversity, Equity And Inclusion (DEI) Training Solutions Programme

Over the past few years, DEI issues have been front and centre of the agenda for many businesses – whether due to regulatory requirements to report on board diversity, the war for talent or to improve environmental, social and governance (ESG) ratings, and so on.

For any business, a key part of moving the dial towards greater diversity is providing clear and appropriate training for staff, on a regular basis. And of course, with the introduction of the new mandatory duty for employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment coming into force in 2024, the countdown is now on for employers to ensure that they are ready.

Read Full Insight.

UK Business Immigration – what’s in store for 2024?

There are several key immigration developments in the pipeline which are likely to affect UK employers.

Read Full Blog.

Americas

Union Strike Activity Surged in 2023: More of the Same in 2024? (US)

Hollywood studios, the Big Three automakers and Starbucks were just some of the employers impacted by a remarkable surge in labor strikes called by unions in 2023. Nearly 350 strikes took place in 2023 – the most in two decades.

Read Full Blog.

Why You May Have to Comply with California’s New Noncompete – With a February 14 Deadline

Not surprisingly, California is once again passing employment laws that impact companies beyond the state. Specifically, the Golden State is continuing its war against noncompete clauses to conform to case law stating that such clauses are void for any employee working in California — even if the employment contract containing the noncompete was signed in another state.

Read Full Blog.

Asia Pacific

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) in the Changing Landscape of Australian Labour and Employment Law

We believe it is important to help our clients understand the ESG changes that lie ahead and what the implications are for their business.

As the Australian Labour & Employment landscape continues to evolve with legislative changes and regulatory obligations, our L&E experts examine the ‘S’ in ESG, providing insight into how employers can be held liable for a poor workplace culture, the benefits of AI in achieving ESG and DEI objectives, and an update on fair work reforms.

Read Full Insight.

January 2024

Global

Global Snapshot – Hot Employment Law Topics for 2024

We asked the partners across our global Labour & Employment practice to identify the key employment law topics for 2024 in their particular jurisdiction. Here is what they shared with us to help you in your decision making for 2024 and beyond.

Read Full Insight.

Europe

Belgium – “When the lights go out”: the burn-out pandemic

In this last episode of our mini-series on long-term absence, we will zoom in on probably the most common current ground for long-term absence in Belgium, which is burn-out.
Burn-out was in the Belgian press again recently because of a decision in the Antwerp Employment Court that it is discriminatory for a health care insurer to limit payments to two years for disability arising from mental disorders, personality disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia, where for other physical disorders it had not imposed any such time limitation.

Read Full Blog.

Workplace Harassment in Germany: “We Encourage You to Speak Up!” But to Whom?

In the first of a short series of blog posts on workplace harassment in Germany, Laura Sparschuh highlights Germany’s new Whistleblower Protection Act and key issues for employers to consider when handling reports of harassment.  

In Germany, the Whistleblower Protection Act came into full effect in December 2023. The main news is that employers with more than 50 employees are now required to establish and maintain channels and offices (the WPA reporting office) for reporting misconduct that is covered by the Whistleblower Protection Act.

Read Full Blog.

New Year’s Employment Update, Whistleblowing and Internal Investigations Challenges

What practical changes did the amendment to the Labour Code bring?

What are the initial experiences with the implementation of whistleblowing systems?

When is forensic support necessary in conducting internal investigations?

If these topics interest you, we would be delighted for you to join us for a client breakfast. This event is being hosted at our office in cooperation with forensic specialists from renowned international firm Ernst & Young.

Register for the Event in Prague.

Americas

Supreme Court of California Holds Trial Courts Lack Inherent Authority to Dismiss Unmanageable PAGA Claims

In Estrada v. Royalty Carpet Mills, Inc., No. S274340, 2024 WL 188863 (Cal. Jan. 18, 2024), the Supreme Court of California resolved a split among the Courts of Appeal regarding whether trial courts possess inherent authority to dismiss California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) claims based on their lack of manageability and held that courts lack such authority. The employer in Estrada contended that the PAGA claim brought against it was unmanageable because it involved a substantial number of individual issues and would require testimony from a vast number of individuals. This decision takes a potentially potent tool for defending against PAGA claims away from defendant employers and may encourage plaintiffs to pursue the broadest possible PAGA claims.

Read Full Blog.

US State Law Roundup – 2023 Year-end Update

State and local legislatures were active throughout 2023 in passing laws and ordinances that will impact employers of all sizes and all industries in 2024.
Click HERE for our summary of these laws and related developments, including important developments in California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, New York and elsewhere!
If you haven’t already, you might also want to review our updates from the first half of 2023, available here and here.

Read Full Blog.

DOL Publishes Final Independent Contractor Rule (US)

Way back in October 2022, we discussed the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) issuance of a notice of new rule that would substantially change the test for whether a worker is an employee, and thus covered by the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), or is an independent contractor, and therefore not covered by those FLSA provisions. After an extensive notice-and-comment period, on January 10, 2024, the DOL published the final rule.

Read Full Blog.

December 2023

UK

UK Employment Law: Where Do We Currently Stand?

As 2023 draws to an end, we thought it would be useful to summarise where we are on the legislative front after a busy 12 months. Our briefing note aims to bring you up to speed and help you plan your 2024 priorities.

Read Full Insight.

Pre-nups in employment contracts – not a marriage made in heaven (UK)

In its judgement in Zabelin -v- SPI Spirits and Shefler this month, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has offered a refresher course on some important questions around protected disclosures, contracting out of statutory rights and when the Acas Code applies.

Read Full Blog

UK Business Immigration: Significant Hike in Visa Salary Thresholds

The Home Secretary has announced major changes to the UK visa system from Spring 2024 including the following:

  • The general salary threshold for Skilled Worker visas will increase by nearly 50% from £26,200 to £38,700 (except for Health and Care visas). Whilst this won’t affect salaries paid to existing sponsored employees for now (and transitional measures could apply when their visas are up for renewal), it will be a significant blow for UK employers (particularly regional ones) dependant on sponsoring lower-paid, but nonetheless skilled, overseas workers following the ending of EU free movement. etc… 

Read Full Blog.

Does failure to prevent sexual harassment lead to directors exposing themselves? (UK)

In the normal course, the question of whether there is any interplay between the new duty to take proactive steps to prevent sexual harassment on the one hand and section 172 Companies Act 2006 on the other would be a bit of a downer at your Christmas dinner. However, if you are a director then you may wish to lift your head from the turkey and pay attention, as the question is potentially a cracker.

Read Full Blog.

Europe

Employees on long-term sickness absence – out of sight, out of mind no longer (Belgium)

The Belgian Parliament is currently discussing a draft Bill proposed by Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke which aims to reverse the growing trend of long-term sickness. About half a million employees have been off sick for more than a year, according to figures from the National Institute for Sickness and Disability Insurance.

Read Full Blog

Belgium – “Who you gonna call?” — appointment of a person of trust mandatory as of 1 December

While some are already hanging up the Christmas decorations and squeezing back into their Christmas jumpers, the Belgian legislator has picked the festive season to introduce a number of new measures relating to well-being in the workplace. We will discuss these measures in a series of blogs.

Read Full Blog.

Competition and Employment – A Marriage That Does Not Allow for a Prenup

Last week, on 21 November, the European Commission announced that it has carried out a dawn raid in relation to an alleged no-poaching cartel in the food delivery market.

This is not the first time that an authority opened investigations into no-poach agreements – a deal not to hire each other’s employees – and other hiring practices: the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in October opened its second investigation into wage fixing and the Swiss authority in relation to 34 banks in late 2022.

Read Full Insight

Asia Pacific

Protection of Corporate Whistleblowers in Australia

Guidance From Flori v Winter [No 3] [2023] QCA 229
In 2019, Part 9.4AAA of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Corporations Act) was strengthened to protect eligible whistleblowers in the corporate sphere. These were important reforms, with the provisions performing a critical role in preventing and uncovering corporate misconduct and criminal activity, and are weighted towards protecting whistleblowers from potential significant personal harm and financial loss.

Read Full Insight

Board Briefing Labour & Employment – Australia H2 2023

This briefing aims to provide boards with a strategic steer on key present and impending legal changes this half in Australia.

It also includes useful data for legal and HR teams to ensure they are taking action or preparing for change.

Read Full Insight.

Americas 

Healthcare Employer Update: A Practical Discussion of Recent Employment Law Changes Affecting Workplaces in the Health Industry

Healthcare organizations have recently seen major changes to the law, and 2023 has been no exception. This program discusses the key employment law changes affecting the healthcare sector, along with practical suggestions for employers seeking to manage these new obligations.

recording is available to view online. 

November 2023

UK

The trouble with the reluctant complainant (UK)

It has been annual review season here at Squire Patton Boggs.  Looking back over my efforts this year in the usual endeavour to justify my own existence, I have spotted the same scenario cropping up with unusual frequency.

Read Full Blog

Knew this would happen, Part 3 – draft Acas code fails to plug holes in predictable working patterns law (UK)

Last week saw the publication of the draft Acas Code of Practice for handling requests for a “predictable working pattern”.  When we previewed the draft Bill in February, we noted here.

Read Full Blog.

Europe

New Czech Whistleblower Legislation – Panel Discussion With Leading Czech Experts

A new Czech whistleblower legislation came into force on 1 August 2023, implementing the EU Whistleblower Directive.

The Czech Republic has awaited this piece of legislation for many years. The panel discussion with leading experts in this area was moderated by Zbynek Zykmund from Prima TV, and attended by Pavel Prochazka, a chief compliance officer at Home Credit International (PPF), Katerina Holasek Dosedelova, a forensic services director at PwC, Marie Zemanova, an environmental, social and governance (ESG) specialist from the Czech Sustainable Business Association, and Vladimir Polach, a partner at Squire Patton Boggs, focusing on dispute resolution, white collar and investigations.

A recording is available to view online. 

Competition Enforcement in Labour Markets

As of recently, employment practices have come on the radar of cartel enforcement in Europe. The EU is following in the footsteps of the US which has been looking at anticompetitive practices among companies in the hiring of employees for some years. Our client insight looks into this issue in more detail.

Read Full Insight

Attention! Important new decision on accrual of paid leave in France

French law has traditionally provided that absences due to non-occupational illness are not taken into account when determining the amount of paid leave accrued, as they do not constitute a period of actual work.

Read Full Blog

Asia Pacific

Think Twice Before Confessing (Twice)

Australian Federal Court Awards Highest Sum of General Damages for Sexual Harassment Claim Under the Sex Discrimination Act.

The Federal Court has put employers on notice about the potential consequences for failing to comply with their positive duty by awarding the highest amount of general damages in a sexual discrimination claim under the Sex Discrimination Act.

In this article, our Labour & Employment team explore the landmark decision of Taylor v August and Pemberton Pty Ltd [2023] FCA 1313 and its implications for employers.

Read Full Insight.

It Is a Cultural Thing – Can Employers Be Held Liable for a Poor Workplace Culture?

Most Australian businesses would claim to have a positive workplace culture (or be aspiring to have one), although this may not be borne out in reality. If a poor workplace culture exists, is this solely the employer’s responsibility? More to the point, can an employer or Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) in a work health and safety context be held liable if a poor workplace culture impacts on workers’ health? Based on recent action taken by safety regulators, the answer is yes.

Read Full Insight.

Middle East

UAE Introduces New End-of-Service Investment Scheme

The UAE Cabinet recently announced a change to the end-of-service gratuity scheme applicable for non-GCC national employees. With effect from 10 October 2023, Cabinet Decision No. 96 of 2023 (New Cabinet Decision) introduces significant changes to the end-of-service gratuity scheme and establishes a voluntary alternative scheme (New Scheme) for non-GCC national employees based onshore UAE and within certain UAE free zones (excluding the DIFC). It has yet to be confirmed as to whether the New Scheme shall be adopted by the ADGM.

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Americas 

Santa Ethics – On-demand CLE Program

This one-of-a-kind, on-demand continuing legal education (CLE) program explores ethics and professionalism through the magic of the holiday season.

A Recording is available to view online. 

Ohio Legalizes Recreational Marijuana, But Employers’ Ability to Enforce Workplace Drug Policies Remains Intact (US)

As of November 7, 2023, Ohio became the 24th state to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana. Ohio voters passed Issue 2, also known as An Act to Control and Regulate Adult Use of Cannabis (the “Act”), by a 57% to 43% margin, and the Act is set to take effect on December 7, 2023. The November 7 citizen-initiated ballot measure legalizes the possession, home cultivation and retail sale of cannabis for adults 21 and older.

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Accommodating Disabilities Under the ADA: Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Must (US)

Court explains that “feasible” isn’t always “reasonable.”

It’s widely understood that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) generally requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities to enable them to perform their essential job functions. What’s not so well understood is what exactly is a “reasonable accommodation,” and when and what job functions are truly “essential.”  A recent decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit – which hears cases coming out of Alabama, Florida and Georgia – addressed these questions and provides some helpful guidance to employers.

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October 2023

UK

UK Webinar: Global Workforce Compliance: Navigating Changes in US I-9 and UK Right to Work Rules

We had an insightful and comprehensive webinar, with Gregory Wald and Annabel Mace, reviewing recent changes and trends in US I-9 and UK right to work rules and regulations. This webinar brings together legal experts in immigration and employment verification law to provide you with valuable insights. 

A recording of this webinar is available to view online.

UK Supreme Court Makes It Easier for Workers To Claim Historical Holiday Underpayments

A gap of three months or more between holiday pay underpayments does not necessarily break a “series of deductions” for unlawful deduction from wages purposes, meaning that workers can potentially make claims for holiday backpay in relation to a longer period.

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“Getting the most out of the fit note”: new guidance for UK employers

Well, sort of. Almost nothing has changed in this month’s new government guidance on fit notes over the previous versions. You can receive a fit note digitally these days and (to reduce doctors’ workloads) a wider range of medical practitioners are now authorised to issue them, but officially that’s about it. That under-sells it, maybe — I suspect that many of the numerous basic grammatical errors in the guidance are also new, since it is hard to believe that anyone could have proof-read the earlier version and deliberately left them in.

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Belgium

Belgium – welcome to the severance season

When I tell people I am an Employment lawyer, it is not uncommon for them to assume out loud my days must be filled swinging metaphorical axes and terminating employees on all sides. While I always reassure them that that is not quite the case, today’s blog will not help this misconception disappear. The message of this post is effectively that if you are considering terminating employees in Belgium (in particular for underperformance), the next handful of weeks may be the best time to do this.

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Americas

Unions in the Spotlight: Recent Developments at the NLRB Every Employer Should Know

Unions are having a resurgence, enjoying a positive shift in public perception, emboldened by high-visibility disputes and supported by an openly pro-union presidential administration.

Against this backdrop, the National Labor Relations Board – the federal administrative agency that administers and enforces the primary law governing the relationships between employees, employers and unions – has pursued an aggressive agenda to rewrite the rules to tilt the deck in favor of unions, while at the same time issuing decisions that impact all employers, regardless of whether their employees are union-represented.

Register for the Webinar.

Attention California Employers! Soon, You Will Need to Provide Employees Five Days (or 40 Hours) of Paid Sick Leave (US)

On October 4, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) No. 616 into law, which expands California’s mandatory paid sick leave from three days (or twenty-four hours) to five days (or forty hours). The increased paid sick leave requirements take effect on January 1, 2024.

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California Legislative Year-End Review: Preparing for 2024 (US)

On October 14, 2023, California’s active legislative year came to an end, leaving numerous employment law updates in its wake. This year, Governor Gavin Newsom has signed novel laws that create new rights for employees (and requirements for employers) while also amending some current laws, thereby changing existing employer obligations. Here, we summarize the laws expected to have the greatest impact on California employers in 2024.

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September 2023

Global Guide on Overseas Remote Working

We know that overseas remote working remains a hot topic for many of our clients. Our new Global Guide on Overseas Remote Working highlights the key issues for businesses to consider if they have staff living and working in one country for the benefit of a company in a different country, whether they are employed directly or via a Professional Employment Organisation/Employer of Record. It provides a high-level overview in relation to employment, immigration, tax and social security risks, as well as, where applicable, labour leasing restrictions and Posted Workers Directive obligations.

Read our new Global Guide on Overseas Remote Working.

Closing Loopholes Bill – Regulating Labour Hire

Earlier this year, we foreshadowed the swift approach of the Albanese government’s “same job same pay” measures. On 4 September 2023, the federal government introduced the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Bill 2023, with one of the proposed amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) aimed at enabling labour hire employees to be paid at least the same as their directly employed counterparts who are performing the same work and paid under the host’s enterprise agreement.

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UK Webinar: Employment Law Update

There is potentially a great deal of change to UK employment law in the pipeline over the next six to 12 months, including implementation of the various “family-friendly” rights that have recently been passed, revisions to the flexible working regime, reforms to post-employment non-competition provisions, and so on. 

Our Employment Law Update webinar brings you up to speed on these likely changes, what they will mean for your business and how you should be preparing for them. We took a brief look also at some more distant possibilities, including a proposed law against workplace bullying.

A recording of this webinar is available to view online. 

August 2023

UK Business Immigration: EU Settlement Scheme Enhancement

The UK government has announced changes to the EU Settlement Scheme from September 2023 which will affect those living in the UK with pre-settled status. The changes have been made following the case of R (Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements) v the Secretary of State for the Home Department [2022].

Further details can be found in our blog post.  Our webinar on UK Business Immigration – Ten Tricky Sponsor Compliance Issues provides further guidance on a range of sponsorship, visa and right to work challenges.

The New Oman Labor Law: Key Aspects Employers Need To Be Mindful Of 

Nearly 18 months following the overhaul of the UAE’s federal employment legislation and the replacement of its previous 1980 framework by Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 as amended and Cabinet Decision No. 1 of 2022 as amended (“New UAE Labor Law”), Royal Decree No. 35 of 2003 (“Old Oman Labor Law”) was equally replaced by an entirely new legislation, being Royal Decree No. 53 of 2023 (“New Oman Labor Law”). Under the New Oman Labor Law, businesses are granted a period of six months from the date of its enactment, i.e., July 26, 2023, to comply with its provisions.

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Coming Soon to Labour Hire Near You: Same Job, Same Pay

The consultation paper from the Australian Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (Department) on the proposed Same Job, Same Pay measure sheds some guidance on the Labor government’s commitment to its proposal that labour hire workers are to be paid at least the same as directly engaged employees doing the same work. The government intends to legislate the Same Job, Same Pay measure in the spring 2023 sitting of Parliament, suggesting major changes are just around the corner.

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July 2023

Global: Webinar Series – The Global Whistleblowing Landscape

Over the last 12 months, our global Labour & Employment team has seen a marked increase in queries from companies about staff blowing the whistle, and with various countries introducing greater legislative protection for whistleblowers this year, combined with increased demands for accountability and greater employee confidence, this trend seems set to continue.

In the first webinar in this short series, our panel of speakers discussed the whistleblowing landscape in key jurisdictions around the world, including the UK, Europe, the US and Asia Pacific, covering current trends, challenges and action points for global companies.

In the second webinar of the series, we took a closer look at how the EU Whistleblowing Directive is being implemented in Belgium, France and Germany.

In the third webinar of the series, we took a closer look at how the EU Whistleblowing Directive is being implemented in Italy, Spain and key jurisdictions in Central Europe.

June 2023

UK: Webinar – What Will the UK Government’s Proposals for Employment Law Reform Mean for Your Business?

A number of the proposals can be described as “tinkering around the edges”, but there are two key changes that could have more significant implications for businesses operating in the UK, namely the proposed amendments to the Working Time Regulations 1998 concerning holidays and holiday pay, and the introduction of a three-month statutory time limit on non-compete provisions.

Webinar recordings and presentation materials relating to 1) Reform of Non-compete Provisions and 2) Holidays and Holiday Pay are available online.

Further details can be found in our recent insight and blog post.

May 2023

Technology: Global HR Audit – Your Global Strategic HR Document and Policies Tool

Our updated Global HR Audit tool helps employers determine the HR documents and policies they should have in 37 countries around the world, as well as any they should consider having on a global basis. We have also included an environmental, social and governance (ESG) radar to the tool, to pinpoint those policies and documents that provide this opportunity for going beyond baseline compliance.

Global HR Audit.

April 2023

Global: Webinar – Labour & Employment Virtual Panel Event: Professional Employer Organisations (PEOs)

Over the last few years, there has been growing interest from companies in engaging staff through PEOs, especially where they are looking to expand into new countries where they do not currently have a business presence.

Our panel of experts from our firm, partners Miriam Lampert (Labour & Employment), Annabel Mace (Business Immigration) and Patrick Ford (Tax Strategy & Benefits) will talk through some of the legal issues that global businesses need to be aware of when using PEOs.

recording of this webinar is available to view online.

March 2023

Technology: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) “At a Glance” Charts

Introducing our new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) “At a Glance” Charts, which cover the key principles to support your business understand its obligations and opportunities and plan your DEI approach, beyond baseline compliance.

DEI is fundamental to the credentials of those businesses seeking investment along with a broader Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) focus. Even those businesses not concerned by ESG ratings and impact still are looking to encourage a more inclusive organisational culture with leadership that better reflects the communities in which they operate.  A culture that nurtures, engages and rewards the talents of a diverse workforce, will lead to productivity gains and help strengthen the fabric of an organisation. And this is only likely to become more important in these turbulent geo-political and economic times.

Our easy-to-use “At a Glance” charts provide answers to some of the most common questions we receive including pay equity, data gathering and workforce reporting and beyond. The charts are available for free on Global Edge Lite (GE Lite).

Access Now.

Germany: Insight – German Federal Labour Court: Equal Pay Is Not a Matter of Negotiation

In Germany, pay equality between men and women is statistically not a reality. According to a survey conducted by the German Federal Statistical Office, women with comparable qualifications, jobs and employment histories earned, on average, 7% less per hour than their male colleagues in 2022. Due to absences caused by parental leave and part-time work, among other things, the pay gap is growing, resulting in a pay gap between men and women in Germany as high as 18% on average.

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February 2023

Spain – Insight – Spanish Law Regulating the Protection of Persons Who Report Infringements Has Been Published

On 21 February 2023, Law 2/2023, regulating the protection of persons who report regulatory infringements and the fight against corruption (commonly referred to as “whistleblowing regulations”), was published in the Offcial State Gazette (BOE). It transposes Directive (EU) 2019/1937 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2019, known as the Whistleblowing Directive.

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January 2023

Global: Snapshot – Hot Employment Law Topics for 2023

We asked the partners across our global Labor & Employment Practice to identify three or four key employment law topics for 2023 in their particular jurisdictions. Here is what they shared with us to help you in your decision-making for 2023 and beyond.

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UAE: Insight – Extends Grace Period for Employees To Transition to Fixed-term Contracts to 31 December 2023

The Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Labour Relations (the New Labour Law) came into effect on 2 February 2022 and set a deadline of 1 February 2023 for private sector businesses (registered outside of the DIFC and ADGM) to convert all unlimited-term employment contracts of their workforce to fixed-term contracts.

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December 2022

UK: UK Employment Law: Where Do We Currently Stand?

Our short snapshot will bring you up to speed with what’s happening on the employment law front in the UK, where you need to be and will help you with your 2023 priorities.

Read Our Full Insight.

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