The Federal Supreme Court recently held that independent taxi drivers affiliated with a central headquarters are to be considered employees. Until this decision, taxi drivers connected to their headquarters by follow-up contracts only were considered self-employed. The decision means that drivers will be much better protected in future, although prices will rise for consumers as a result.
The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) has rejected an application from the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain for collective bargaining rights in respect of Deliveroo riders. In the first high-profile worker-status decision to find in favour of a company in recent times, the CAC held that Deliveroo's riders have a genuine right to use a substitute to perform deliveries before and after they have accepted a job, which riders take advantage of in practice.
Zero-hour contracts are particularly controversial in Norway, which is generally known for its high level of employee protection. For example, in early 2017 a district court held that a formal arrangement under which a staffing agency's full-time employees had not received salary payments between assignments was illegal. Further, the government recently issued a discussion document outlining its proposal to amend the Working Environment Act, which is intended to target zero-hour contracts.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal recently upheld the Employment Tribunal decision that drivers engaged by Uber are workers rather than independent contractors. The decision has been eagerly awaited by human resource and employment practitioners seeking guidance on how to apply the test for worker status properly in the context of gig economy businesses. However, the judgment is highly fact-specific and other cases concerning gig economy businesses may not be decided in the same way.
A number of new employment-related laws have been adopted in 2017, including the long-awaited Protection of Paternity Law and the Protection of Maternity (Amendment) Law, which introduced the concept of surrogacy. Amendments to existing laws regarding redundancy and smoking in the workplace have also been made.
The Supreme Court recently dismissed an application from the Telecommunications Workers' Union for leave to appeal the decision that unions have no independent legal right, separate and apart from their collective agreement rights, to be involved in every unionised employee's accommodation request. The decision is a victory for employers, employee privacy and the accommodation process.
In its final session before the general election, Parliament passed a bill which serves as a first step in harmonising the different legal regimes covering blue-collar and white-collar employees. However, not everyone is happy with this half-hearted harmonisation project – most notably, employer organisations – as they believe that the extended notice period for blue-collar workers will cost employers dearly.
The minister for the civil service and administrative reform recently submitted a bill to the Chamber of Deputies recommending the creation of the Centre for Health, Safety and Quality of Life at Work in the Civil Service. The bill also recommends that 'psychosocial risks' within the context of employment relationships be defined in line with Belgian employment legislation and aims to close the legal gap relating to procedures to combat harassment.
The risks to employers in sexual harassment cases can be big. Potential liability can arise from any decision and employers may find themselves having to make tough decisions on tight timelines. The key to ensuring an appropriate response is to be prepared. Preparation will permit an employer to take a proactive approach, as opposed to a reactive stance, when sexual harassment is discovered. This is a lesson that can be drawn from a recent Alberta Court of Queen's Bench case.
The Labour Courts Act, which was recently published in the Official Gazette, aims to ease the judiciary's workload and accelerate the judicial process in employment cases. The act has introduced a number of changes, the most important of which include mandatory mediation for employers and employees before initiating lawsuits, an amended procedure for reinstatement cases and a reduced statute of limitations of five years for several types of compensation.
An arbitrator and the Quebec Superior Court recently challenged the well-established principle in labour relations that an employer retains managerial rights in the absence of limiting provisions in a collective agreement. The arbitrator and the court found that the employer had violated the collective agreement because it contained no clear provision that allowed it to act as it did. Therefore, the question remains: what is happening to managerial rights and what measures can employers take to protect them?
Employers are often frustrated by employees' incapacity to work for health reasons, but they must act with care when addressing such situations. In an attempt to protect employee interests, legal regulations provide certain restrictions on what employers can do if an employee is unable to work for health reasons. A recent Supreme Court decision has further clarified some of these restrictions.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service has published a guide to promoting positive mental health in the workplace. The guide highlights the benefits for employers in proactively addressing this issue and sets out a step-by-step process to help them to achieve the key objectives of tackling the causes of work-related mental ill health, creating a culture where employees can talk about their mental health and supporting employees who are experiencing mental ill health.
Ontario has announced that it will be cracking down on employers that misclassify workers as independent contractors as part of its Bill 148: Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act 2017. The bill will place the burden on employers to prove that workers are not employees for the purposes of the Employment Standards Act, reflecting a growing concern among legislators across Canada that workers and employers are operating outside of the traditional employer-employee framework.
The Payment of Gratuity Act 1972 is a form of social security legislation which prescribes a scheme for the payment of gratuity. For the private sector, gratuity is capped at Rs1 million, whereas central government employees can receive gratuity of up to Rs2 million. There is a proposal to increase the cap for the private sector in order to align it with the central government. Although this is a step forward in ensuring better benefits to eligible employees, it will increase employers' financial burden.
The proposed Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill – which aims to provide a statutory right to paid leave for employed parents who suffer the loss of a child – was recently introduced in Parliament. Previous attempts to introduce paid leave in these circumstances have been unsuccessful. However, the new bill has the government's support and is likely to become law.
The Supreme Court recently rendered an important decision concerning the protection of employees' privacy rights. The court reversed a first-instance labour court decision and ruled that the dismissal of an employee was unlawful on the grounds that the employer had used the employee's WhatsApp conversations (obtained in an impermissible way) as evidence, thus violating the employee's right to privacy.
In British Columbia secondary picketing is unlawful unless the striking union can obtain a declaration that the secondary business or location has allied itself with the struck employer. Suppliers and other affected businesses can arrange their affairs to work around strikes and lockouts without being declared an ally – so-called 'self-help' is permitted by such third parties. A recent British Columbia Labour Relations Board decision has analysed self-help in a new way, making it more difficult to avoid secondary pickets.
Lawyers are often asked to review employment contracts, including post-termination restrictions. It is increasingly common to see covenants that either restrict the former employee from holding any interest in a competing business or limit the amount of shareholding that they can have. If a contract uses this language, it could lead to the entire restrictive covenant being unenforceable.
The use of outsourcing has historically been uncertain in Brazil, particularly in relation to the outsourcing of a company's core business. However, once in force, the labour reform will create a scenario of greater legal certainty for outsourcing because it expressly authorises the outsourcing of any activities, including a company's core business.