Work/Life – 1 / 75 观点
Welcome to the latest edition of our international employment news update.
The Bundesrat in Germany has passed the Whisteblower Protection Act (HinSchG), which protects whistleblowers from disadvantages. Companies with more than 249 employees must set up and operate a whistleblower system after the Act comes into force – which is expected to be in June 2023. The key provision of the Act is that companies must have an internal reporting channel to which confidential reports may be submitted, in either verbal or written form. If a whistleblower suffers a disadvantage in connection with their professional activity following a confidential report, the Act provides for a reversal of the burden of proof – requiring the employer to prove that the disadvantage is not a retaliation to the report being made. The reach of the Act will be extended to companies with at least 50 employees from 17 December 2023.
For more information on the Act and its repercussions, please see our updated FAQs here and sign up for our webinar being hosted by Jan-Patrick Vogel and Dr Martin Knaup on 25 May 2023 here.
Spain's labour minister has announced that the government will modify legislation to prohibit outdoor work when the state weather agency issues red or orange weather alerts, without providing further details as to how the legislation will be modified. Red or orange weather alerts are used to warn citizens that temperatures pose a risk for human health or the environment. Last year was Spain's hottest year since record-keeping began in 1961, and last month was the hottest and driest April on record, which provides background as to the Spanish government's plans to ban outdoor work in extreme heat.
The government has announced reforms to employment law as part of its strategy to grow the UK economy and no doubt, to plan for an election like the Labour party. The UK government has announced plans to amend some of the Working Time Regulations to remove the time recording requirement on businesses, as well as to remove the distinction between 4 weeks' annual leave (known as 'WTR' leave) and 1.6 weeks' leave (known as additional leave). The government also plans to limit the length of post-termination non-compete clauses in employment contracts to 3 months to promote healthy competition and job mobility. Further changes to reduce consultation obligations on businesses where there is a TUPE transfer are being considered. TUPE transfers involving an employer with fewer than 50 employees, and where there are fewer than 10 employees affected, will no longer be required to collectively consult. To read further into the changes proposed by the UK government, access our article here.
A call centre employee in the Netherlands, employed by Teleperformance, has successfully brought a claim against Teleperformance for payment for the time spent preparing for a shift. According to the employee, he had to start making calls by 9am every morning – which required him to show up to work 10 minutes earlier to get his system set up and to log in, which he was not paid for. The court in The Hague ruled that Teleperformance must pay the employee for his 10 minutes of preparation time each day, dating back to the start of his employment, which totals 2,900 euros. The ruling could have major consequences for Teleperformance and other employers in the Netherlands, with the ruling opening up the door for similar claims from employees who have come into work early to prepare for shifts.
The Labour party is expected to introduce "right to switch off" rules if elected, following in the footsteps of other European nations such as Ireland and France. The rules will restrict employers from contacting their staff by phone, WhatsApp or email outside of work hours. Angela Rayner, deputy party leader, said that constant emails and calls outside of work should not be the norm and is harming the work-life balance of workers all over the country. Labour, if elected, would look to learn from other countries who have implemented similar rules successfully.
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride, has suggested that government ministers will need to bring forward the rise in state pension age to 68 in the first couple of years of the next parliament. The initial decision to increase state pension age was delayed because of stalling life expectancy in the UK, but Stride has suggested this decision will still have to be taken by the current government's successors. Stride went further to suggest that there were no current plans to change the triple lock on raising pensions in the next Conservative manifesto, but did not comment on whether it would be retained.
More than 10 UK trade unions have launched legal action in the High Court against the government's recent changes to employment law. The legal challenge is focused around the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2022, which the unions argue allow staffing agencies to supply workers during strikes, undermining the intended effects of strike action. Unions hope that the High Court will consider the legislation unlawful, leading to the legislation being quashed. The Trade Union Congress have commented that the hearing is a further demonstration of unions' determination to fight against the government's attacks on the right of employees to strike.
Germany's EVG rail workers' union called upon its 230,000 members to strike for a period of 50 hours from Sunday evening until end of the day on Tuesday, earlier this week. Negotiations between EVG and the railway companies have been taking place since February, with EVG seeking a 12% raise for its members. EVG hoped the strike action would increase the pressure on the railway companies to seek compromise significantly, with DB's personnel chief calling the strikes "completely unreasonable" and suggesting EVG's goal was to paralyze the country rather than reach a reasonable compromise for all parties involved.
The number of US companies who are substituting paid maternity and paternity leave for gender neutral parental leave is growing. A recent report from JUST Capital, which analysed policies from 961 companies in the Russell 1000 index, found 9% of these companies offered at least 12 weeks off for all new parents, regardless of gender, up from 6% last year. This number only increases when you look at the offer of parity for parental leave, rather than offering at least 12 weeks, with 15% of companies in the study offering equal paid parental leave to their employees. With equal paid parental leave on the rise in the US, this could help address the gender pay gap as more men will be encouraged to take paid time off, helping mothers engage in paid work and boost their labour force participation and income.