Employment & Immigration updates

Australia

Fiery fight over Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board's latest agreement
  • Australia
  • 15 January 2020

In 2019 the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board and the United Firefighters Union of Australia Operational Staff Agreement 2016 was approved. The approval of the agreement raised a number of issues, including whether Section 195 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), which prohibits the approval of enterprise agreements containing discriminatory terms, includes a prohibition on indirect as well as direct discrimination.

Poorly managed performance improvement plans: how to avoid adverse action claims
  • Australia
  • 08 January 2020

In an ironic turn of events, a poorly implemented and followed performance improvement plan (PIP) resulted in an employer having to pay A$205,342 to an employee who had brought a successful adverse action claim in the Federal Circuit Court. The court held that the employer had contravened the general provisions under the Fair Work Act 2009. This article provides practical tips on how employers can avoid a PIP resulting in an adverse action claim.

When disaster strikes: managing employees following a natural disaster
  • Australia
  • 18 December 2019

The current fires in New South Wales and Queensland are a timely reminder for employers to review their business arrangements for responding to such crises, particularly in workforce management, and ensuring that they have a plan in place to deal with the aftermath. This article provides some guidance on the kinds of things that employers need to think about following a natural disaster.

Consultation: is a dismissal harsh, unjust or unreasonable without it?
  • Australia
  • 06 November 2019

Does an employee have to be consulted, in accordance with an applicable industrial instrument, about their impending termination? According to a recent decision by the Fair Work Commission, the answer is not necessarily. The decision highlights that there are certain circumstances where an employer may be safe from an unfair dismissal claim if it proceeds to termination without consulting the employee. However, these situations are highly exceptional and should be approached with caution.

It's official: all permanent employees are entitled to 10 working days' paid sick leave... for now
  • Australia
  • 23 October 2019

The Fair Work Ombudsman recently released advice that all permanent employees are entitled to 10 days of paid personal/carer's leave for each year of their employment. This is a major departure from calculating personal/carer's leave entitlements in hours, which is the approach currently taken by most employers and employees. However, the ombudsman's advice is based on a recent court decision which may not stand.


Austria

Contributed by Graf & Pitkowitz Rechtsanwalte GmbH
New legal framework for working from home
  • Austria
  • 03 March 2021

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government commissioned the so-called 'social partners' (ie, the Chamber of Commerce representing employers and labour unions acting on behalf of employees) to negotiate and present a bill on working from home that Parliament can pass into law as the new standard on the matter. The new framework will cover various issues – from contractual provisions and co-determination by works councils to recommendations on occupational safety.

Competitive actions by employees through intermediaries: imputation of liability and restrictive covenants
  • Austria
  • 04 November 2020

Under Section 7 of the Employment Act, employees cannot, while employed and without their employer's consent, operate a commercial business or conclude commercial transactions in their employer's line of business. In a recent case, the Supreme Court had to decide whether the statutory prohibition also covers such competitive actions by employees through intermediaries or whether only the employees themselves have the standing to be sued by their employer.

Supreme Court rules on compensation for illegal GPS tracking
  • Austria
  • 16 September 2020

The Supreme Court recently ruled for the first time on the issue of whether GPS tracking without an employee's consent warrants compensation for immaterial damage. Employers that use GPS tracking systems or similar control measures to monitor their staff should ensure that they agree the system's introduction with the works council or have each affected employee expressly consent to such a measure if no works council has been elected.

Supreme Court rules on formal requirements for dismissal challenge
  • Austria
  • 22 July 2020

The Supreme Court recently clarified the legal implications of one particular scenario of dismissal challenges: if a works council expressly objects to an employee's dismissal (as opposed to expressly consents or fails to make a statement), the right to challenge the dismissal rests with the works council, but only if the employee, within one week of such objection, requests the works council to act accordingly and file a lawsuit.

Continued remuneration during COVID-19 pandemic
  • Austria
  • 13 May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused employers to use various methods to support employees and maintain business performance. Old and new legal remedies provide for continued payment of salaries (and in some cases also corresponding grants to employers) if performance of work is impossible. This article outlines the routes that employers and employees can take where normal working is impossible, such as sick leave and care leave to look after sick children.


Bahamas

COVID-19: lay-offs, short time and redundancies – what you need to know
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 15 April 2020

In times of crisis such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, employers and employees alike need to be aware of their rights and obligations. Employers should ensure that lay-off or short-time actions are taken with due consideration and in accordance with the Employment Act. Employees should be prepared for the possibility of being laid off or put on short time and, understanding their options under the law, work with their employer to produce the best outcome for both parties.


Belgium

Contributed by ALTIUS
New monthly online COVID-19 telework registration obligation for employers from April 2021
  • Belgium
  • 14 April 2021

As many employers either have not been or have been insufficiently respecting compulsory teleworking, the government has enhanced the monitoring of compulsory teleworking by introducing a new online registration obligation for employers. From April 2021, every employer must submit a monthly declaration via the National Social Security Office's online portal by the sixth calendar day of each month.

Social inspection audits in construction sector: what to expect in 2021
  • Belgium
  • 31 March 2021

The Social Information and Investigation Service (SIOD/SIRS) recently published its 2021 action plan revealing its strategy and top priorities for the year. Similar to recent years, the construction sector remains a target. This article summarises what employers can expect in 2021 and how they can prepare, based on the SIOD/SIRS checklist.

ECJ partially upholds Belgium's docker rules
  • Belgium
  • 10 March 2021

In a long-awaited court ruling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) confirmed that the Belgian rules on dock work, obliging companies to have only recognised dockers carry out dock work in ports, do not necessarily constitute a violation of the free movement of workers, the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services. However, the ECJ rejected several parts of the recognition procedure of such dockers. Legislative changes are now inevitable.

New National Labour Council collective labour agreement sets framework for COVID-19 teleworking
  • Belgium
  • 17 February 2021

Traditionally, Belgian labour law has distinguished between two forms of telework: structural and occasional telework. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a third category has been added: COVID-19 telework, which was previously recommended but has now been made compulsory again by the government. The National Labour Council has now concluded Collective Labour Agreement Number 149, which creates the legal framework for COVID-19 teleworking.

Occupational doctors' enhanced role in combating COVID-19: contact tracing, quarantine certificates and testing
  • Belgium
  • 10 February 2021

A new royal decree has temporarily extended occupational doctors' role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic in the workplace. Occupational doctors will be contact tracers in the workplace and in this context have been given the authority to identify high-risk contacts in the company, issue a quarantine certificate for these workers and refer certain workers to be tested.


Bermuda

Employment law guide: responding to COVID-19
  • Bermuda
  • 01 April 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) was recently declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organisation. The situation continues to develop rapidly. Given the transient nature of the Bermuda workforce, Bermuda-based employers should consider taking steps now to manage risks both proportionately and sensibly. This article provides guidance to help Bermuda employers address some of the key queries and concerns.

Pension scheme amendments
  • Bermuda
  • 29 January 2020

Provisions of the National Pension Scheme (Occupational Pensions) Amendment Act 2019 recently came into force. Employers should now be familiar with some of the upcoming changes, which include the requirement to keep records in relation to payroll and employee-related pension information.