Successfully navigating the complex and dynamic international employment landscape is more challenging than ever in today’s global marketplace. The latest edition of our guide, “Mapping the Trends: The Global Employer Update 2019,” provides succinct updates on major employment law developments across 68 jurisdictions to help guide our clients manage their global workforces in the year ahead. After all, local realities impact global strategies.
When we published last year, the #Me Too movement was already a standout trend but its momentum has continued to have a global impact into 2019. It has shone a light on sexual harassment bringing changes in laws and approach in Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Denmark, France, Panama, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States. This greater awareness and confidence to raise complaints, coupled with the new and improved protections, has resulted in a significant uptick in complaints, holding historic perpetrators accountable for sexual harassment in the workplace many years after the event and requiring employers to take active steps to implement clear policies, provide training, set up hotlines for individuals to report a complaint and carefully consider the use of confidentiality clauses and non-disclosure agreements.
The megatrend of digitalisation continues to have a significant impact on the global labor market and the new world of work. The transformation has manifested itself in various jurisdictions as the ‘gig economy’, the ‘on-demand economy’ and the casualization of the workforce as the traditional definitions of employees and the self-employed blur and case law in, for example, Italy, the UK and the US, continues to explore the boundaries of these terms. In February 2019, the European Commission, Parliament, the Council agreed a new Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions that will likely impact 200 million EU citizens. Many countries, such as Australia, Austria, Finland, Italy, Malaysia, Norway, Portugal, and the Philippines have or are implementing laws which seek to advance flexibility but embed minimum protections by measures limiting the use of fixed term or casual contracts, changing working time, remuneration and severance and in the case of Poland, collective bargaining for contractors. The UK Government is currently considering consultation and further legislative changes under its ‘Good Work Plan’.
Data protection continues to dominate in 2019 following the implementation of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) in EU member states in May 2018. Most EU countries, including Germany, France, Spain and the UK have seen an increase in data subject access requests, data breaches and requests for data deletion. Further litigation by data subjects alleging a failure to comply with their GDPR rights is inevitable. GDPR has also had a driven global change as a number of non-EU countries such as Switzerland, Turkey, Brazil, New Zealand, Panama and Russia are implementing or proposing to implement data protection measures influenced by the GDPR.
We encourage you to explore our guide to learn more about how these trends are playing out across the 68 jurisdictions covered in this edition. To discuss any of these updates and how they may impact your company, please contact me or another member of our International Employment practice.
We are delighted that Mapping the Trends: The Global Employer Update 2018 was highly commended by the Financial Times at their Innovative Lawyers Awards.
Suzanne Horne, Partner
Kirsty Devine, Associate
With special thanks to the many local counsel for their invaluable contributions to this survey.