Worldly Wise

Proposed New York law allows employees a right to disconnect from work

In a most interesting development on the other side of the globe, New York City officials are considering banning work emails outside of office hours. Sounds strange in a globalized world where we are all connected on a 24 X 7 basis, and talking more often about how robots might soon take away our jobs!

The proposed law on private employees disconnecting from electronic communications during non-work hours seeks to amend the New York city charter and the administrative code of the city of New York. If passed, it will make it unlawful for private employers from requiring their employees in New York to check and respond to emails and other electronic communication outside of work hours. As per Wikipedia, the ‘right to disconnect’ is a proposed human right regarding the ability of people to disconnect from work and primarily not to engage in work-related electronic communications such as e-mails or messages during non-work hours.  Some countries in Europe already have such a right included in their labour law. France was the first country to introduce this concept in 2001, based on a decision of its Supreme Court, which held that “the employee is under no obligation either to accept working at home or to bring there his files and working tools.”  Based on the recent development in New York, it now seems that other continents are considering this concept.

The thinking behind this development is to protect employees when they choose to disconnect from work. This would allow them a better work-life balance. While employees may still choose to respond to emails outside of work hours, not doing so cannot lead to any retaliation from their manager who as such should not expect a response. Additionally, employers will need to adopt necessary policies surrounding working hours, paid time off (during which employees have a right to disconnect), emergency situations, etc. Obviously, there will be certain exceptions to this rule, for example, work-related emergencies. On-call employees will also not be entitled to any protection on days that they are scheduled to work. Government employees will also be excluded. As per the proposed law, the employer could be subjected to a monetary fine if it does not comply with the requirements. Currently, this law is restricted to employers having at least ten employees in New York.

Source: People Matters

Sexual harassment in the workplace a widespread issue—Minister

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a real and widespread issue, however, it is also a very broad and ambiguous subject. Many employers and employees do not completely understand what constitutes sexual harassment or who can be charged with a violation.

So said Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus who spoke yesterday’s launch of the Equal Opportunity Commission’s Guidelines on Sexual Harassment in the workplace. It was held at the Government Plaza, Port-of-Spain.

Baptiste-Primus said the prevention of sexual harassment was crucial for a workforce that prides itself on rewarding merit, refuses to tolerate discrimination and fosters gender equality.

“The work environment is expected to be a place where decent work is practised, or where employment ethics, respect for women and equal treatment of all workers should be upheld,” the minister urged.

Baptiste-Primus said that discrimination in the workplace and more specifically sexual harassment in the workplace was a global phenomenon which undermines the attainment of decent work.

“The elimination of discrimination in employment was one of the pillars of the Decent Work Agenda which have been endorsed at the highest political levels internationally and actions to promote this agenda have been pursued by the Government through ratification of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No 111, Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Source: Guardian

Liberals to introduce new minimum wage legislation for private-sector contractors

 The Liberals will introduce new legislation on Tuesday that will set a minimum wage rate for construction workers, building services or cleaners under government contract. The legislation will include provisions for market-standard rates that contractors and sub-contractors have to pay their employees.

Contractors will be expected to bid on government contracts taking those rates into account.

Source: The Star 

After we increased the minimum wage in 2016, unemployment didn’t go up (contrary to warnings)

THE INCREASE IN the national minimum wage rate did not lead to greater unemployment among minimum wage workers, according to a new study published by the ESRI and the Low Pay Commission.

On the 1 January 2016, the minimum wage increase from €8.65 to €9.15 per hour. The Low Pay Commission make recommendations on what the minimum wage should be.

The commission has said previously that it should be increased from €9.25 per hour to €9.55 per hour, which equates to an extra €12 over a 40-hour week.

This study examined if that increased cost of wages on businesses led employers to reduce their number of employees or the number of hours worked, an argument often used by those against an increase in the minimum wage.

While the research did find that there was a reduction in the average number of hours worked by minimum wage employees, the evidence suggests this was driven by an increase in part-time workers joining the labour market following the wage increase.

Source: The Journal

Kenya needs a law on transfer of employees

The enactment of Labour Laws 2007 has no doubt left Kenya standing among nations with the most robust workplace legal regimes in the world.

And that is further buttressed by the fact that the Employment and Labour Relations Court, which enjoys exclusive jurisdiction in the determination of labour disputes in Kenya, is known the world over for its pro-employee stance.

In many instances, the court has shown a willingness to bend double backwards to ensure employees who knock on its doors do not go home empty-handed unless their case is completely hopeless.

Source: Business Daily Africa

Little Switzerland workers take an employer to court over ‘no work, no pay’ principle

Little Switzerland’s holding company World Gifts Import B.V. pleaded with the Court to reject the claims. The Little Switzerland stores in St. Maarten suffered extensive damage due to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which struck St. Maarten in September 2017.

Little Switzerland sells jewellery and luxury watches in more than 30 locations in the Caribbean, including in St. Maarten. The hurricanes severely damaged Little Switzerland’s Front Street and Harbour stores, which led to no or hardly any turnover since. Whereas the Harbour store has partially reopened in the meantime, the Front Street store, which is currently under reconstruction, remains closed until July/August 2018, lawyer Daniella Engelhardt of Van Eps Kunneman Van Doorne law office stated on behalf of the company. She said the renovation of the Front Street store, which was severely infested with mould, would cost the US $1.3 million.
Source: The Daily HeraldThe Daily Herald

Australia- Queensland’s Labour Hire Law In-force

Queensland, Australia’s “Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017” came into effect on 16 April 2018, and labour-hire service providers covered by the regulation have 60 days from its start to apply for a licence, according to the “Asia Pacific Legal Update Q1 2018” by Fiona Coombe, Director, Legal & Regulatory Research, at Staffing Industry Analysts.

A person provides labour hire services if the person supplies another to perform work.

“The regulations clarify the definition of a ‘worker’ and exclude certain categories of individual,” according to the report. “Exemptions include high-income earners not covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement or Queensland’s industrial relations system; individuals who are supplied by one entity to another which is part of the same group; and secondments of an in-house employee of a provider or similar arrangements.”

Source: Staffing Industry

New York State Moves One Step Closer to New Pay Equity Laws

On the heels of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s call for New York to take additional steps to close the gender wage gap, the New York State Assembly passed a suite of pay equity legislation that would impact both private and public employers if successfully enacted.

New York’s existing Achieve Pay Equity Act (“APEA”) already aims to combat gender-based pay differentials. The New York State Fair Pay Act, one of the bills passed by the Assembly, extends equal pay legislation beyond gender, and would make it an unlawful discriminatory practice to pay “wages to employees at a rate less than the rate paid to employees of the opposite sex or of a different race or national origin for work in equivalent jobs.”  Additionally, employers could not pay wages to employees “in a job dominated by employees of a particular sex, race or national origin at a rate less than the rate at which such employer pays to employees in another job that is dominated by employees of the opposite sex or of a different race or national origin, for work on equivalent jobs.”

Source: JD SUPRA

House OKs bill to let towns and counties hike the minimum wage

Local governments would be able to pass laws increasing the state’s minimum wage within their jurisdictions under a bill that won preliminary approval in the Colorado House on Monday.

The Democratic sponsors of the bill, Reps. Jovan Melton of Aurora and Jessie Danielson of Wheat Ridge said HB1368 was nothing more than a local-control measure, something that would allow those governments that have a higher cost of living to decide for themselves what their minimum wages should be.
Republicans, however, had a different opinion.
“It hurts the people making minimum wage in that district because overall it creates fewer jobs,” said Rep. Dan Thurlow, R-Grand Junction. “The second really bad part of it is it creates confusion around the state. If you have people trying to do business across the state, and you’ve got different minimum wages in all the jurisdictions, it creates a real problem for them accounting-wise. It drives up costs, and it probably incentivizes people to figure out solutions that use fewer minimum wage workers … such as computer ordering systems at restaurants.”

Source: The Daily Sentinel 

LISTEN: How will minimum wage increases affect the restaurant industry in B.C.?

With ever-advancing technologies and artificial intelligence creeping into the workforce, job security for current and future generations has never been more worrying. CKNW’s Future of Work series focuses on how British Columbia’s job market is going to evolve and how to help workers get the best possible employment opportunities in the future.

B.C. has announced plans to raise its minimum wage to $15.20 by 2021 and to eliminate a special, lower minimum wage for people who serve liquor. They’re big changes that have many in the restaurant industry on edge.

Source: Global News

The Truth About the New Laos Minimum Wage Hike

After months of deliberation, Laos’ Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith announced this week that the country’s minimum wage will increase from 900,000 kip ($108) to 1.1 million kip per month. This rise is set to take effect from early next month.

The Lao Federation of Trade Unions (LFTU), a state-sponsored union organization, had petitioned for the minimum wage to be increased to 1.2 million kip per month, which they said was necessary because of the rising cost of living. But the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a lobbying group, put up a strong fight, arguing that any minimum wage rise above 1 million kip would be disastrous for the country’s manufacturing industry, still nascent at best, while also asking for a two-year implementation period for the wage rise in order to soften the blow of extra salary expenditure.

Thongloun, it would seem, has sided with the forces of labour, not capital, in this dispute. Some analysts thought that the ruling Communist Party might have instead swayed in the other direction, given that national debt is mounting – 68 percent of GDP in 2016 – while the Party is keen to diversify its economy, long reliant on the export of natural resources. Unlike neighbouring Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam, Laos’ low-cost manufacturing sector remains in the developmental stages relatively speaking, which industry bodies argue won’t be helped by raising salaries.

Source: The Diplomat

 Qatari laws to match global standards: NHRC

The Qatari laws have sought compliance with international labour standards, and labour legislation continues to improve, said Sultan Hassan Al Jamali, Assistant Secretary General of National Human Rights Committee (NHRC).

He said that the Domestic Workers Law was passed in 2017, and we hope that labour laws will continue to evolve until all international standards met with the availability of mechanisms that ensure the best working conditions.

Al Jamali was speaking at a seminar on Labor and Residence Law for the Indian Community in Qatar yesterday at Doha Hilton Hotel. The seminar was organised by NHRC to educate the representatives of Indian Community so they could pass the information to their fellow citizen’s, especially blue-collar workers in their native language for better understanding. “The right to work is one of the human rights enshrined in many international conventions, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which the State of Qatar recently acceded to,” said Al Jamali.

Source: The PeninsulaQatar

Following Election of Governor Murphy, New Jersey Finally Enacts Equal Pay Bill

On April 24, 2018, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act that was passed by the legislature several weeks ago and is aimed at lessening the wage gap in the Garden State. The Equal Pay Act is more comprehensive than similar laws passed in other states because it extends legal protections not just based on gender, but to all protected classes under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (“LAD”).  The bill amends the LAD and makes it illegal for an employer to pay a person protected under the LAD less than an employee performing similar work.

Source: JD Supra

 New Jersey Equal Pay Act Signed Into Law

On Tuesday, April 24, 2018, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act (the “Act”), which amends the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”) to provide enhanced equal pay protections for New Jersey employees. The Act, which becomes effective on July 1, 2018, prohibits pay disparities based upon characteristics protected by the NJLAD, such as race, creed, colour, national origin, nationality, ancestry, age, sex, etc. Specifically, the Act makes it an unlawful employment practice “[f]or an employer to pay any of its employees who is a member of a protected class at a rate of compensation, including benefits, which is less than the rate paid by the employer to employees who are not members of the protected class for substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort and responsibility.”

Source: National Law Review

Qatar sets best standards for the welfare of workers

Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, H E Dr Issa bin Saad Al Jafali Al Nuaimi has said that Qatar is having the best standards for workers’ welfare as it has updated most of the labour legislation to comply with the best international standards.

The Minister said that International Labour Organisation (ILO) has become a strategic partner, especially after opening an office in Qatar. “Qatar has become a role model in the workers’ welfare,” he said while speaking at the 5th Labour and Workers Conference organised by Dar Al Sharq to mark the Workers’ Day at Marsa Malaz Kempinski Hotel yesterday.

Meanwhile, ILO has confirmed that Qatar made remarkable advancement to ensure the rights of workers. “The realisation of the fundamental principles and rights at work is making significant progress in Qatar,” said Corrine Vergha, Director of the International Labour Standards Department at ILO while addressing the event.

Source: The peninsula

The long-standing issue of child labour in Africa

Africa has the world’s highest incidence rates of child labour with severe rates in sub-Saharan Africa where more than 40 percent of all children aged 5–14 labour for survival, or about 48 million children.

As per the current status provided by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest proportion of child labourers (29 percent of children aged 5 to 17 years). In the Middle East and North Africa, fewer than 1 in 10 (7 percent) of children in this age group are performing potentially harmful work.

Source: Devdiscourse

Philippine President Duterte signs an order banning ‘illegal’ short-term labour

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday (May 1) signed an executive order banning employ-on-contract practices, even as tens of thousands of workers marked Labour Day with a huge rally to call him out for reneging on a key campaign promise.

Ending short-term labour was one of Mr Duterte’s many campaign promises.

Two-thirds of the country’s 39 million to 40 million workforces are on short-term contracts, according to a 2016 government estimate.

Source: Straits Times

Employment Law This Week®: NJ’s Equal Pay Act, FLSA Opt-Ins, “Ambush Election” Rule, Guidance on New Tax Credit

We invite you to view Employment Law This Week® – a weekly rundown of the latest news in the field brought to you by Epstein Becker Green. We look at the latest trends, important court decisions, and new developments that could impact your work. Join us every Monday for a new five-minute episode! Read the firm’s press release here and subscribe for updates.

Source: Jdsupra

Rwandan trade unions in the fresh appeal for minimum wage on Labor Day

Rwanda’s trade unions on Tuesday made a fresh appeal for the government at the national Labor Day celebrations to expedite setting up of a new minimum wage.

There is need to fast-trackRwandan trade unions in fresh appeal the setting up of a new minimum wage as part of efforts to improve relations between workers and employers in the country, said Martin Rugema, head of Rwanda Workers Trade Union Confederation, in Rubavu district, western Rwanda.

Workers in the informal sector in rural areas need at least 87,000 Rwandan francs (101 U.S. dollars) minimum wage while those in urban areas need a minimum wage of at least 126,000 Rwandan francs (147 U.S. dollars), according to a survey of the trade union Labor Congress and Workers’ Brotherhood in Rwanda.

Source: Xinhuanet

Ontario introduces pay transparency legislation in Ontario

Bill 3, the Pay Transparency Act, 2018, passed Third Reading in the Ontario Legislature on April 26, 2018. The legislation will require an employer to disclose certain compensation information about, and to, employees and prospective employees, and restrict the information an employer may solicit during the hiring process. The Pay Transparency Act, 2018, comes into force on Jan. 1, 2019. Accordingly, employers (particularly those with more than 100 employees) should prepare now.

Source: Employment La Today

Ontario Finalizes Pay Transparency Act, 2018, Targeting Large Employers

As we reported in March of 2018, the Ontario government recently introduced legislation designed to create pay transparency by prohibiting employers from asking job applicants about pay history, requiring employers to report their pay practices to the Ministry of Labour, and authorizing the appointment of compliance officers to investigate whether employers have complied with the bill’s requirements, among other things.

The Ontario government recently passed Bill 3, the Pay Transparency Act, 2018, making Ontario the first province in Canada to enact pay transparency legislation. Bill 3 replaces the original Bill 203 that had been introduced in March 2018. The new Pay Transparency Act, 2018, clarifies several of the new rules that will apply to Ontario employers starting in 2019, with an initial focus on targeting larger businesses. But it also leaves a number of uncertainties that will need to be clarified in future regulations (i.e., rules made by the government outside of the formal lawmaking process).

Source: Lexology

How UK protects its employees against discrimination

New regulations introduced under the UK Equality Law came into effect on April 5th. Now compliant under the new act, companies in the UK which employ 250 or more people are required to report the disparities in compensation statistics of men and women. The truth is that everybody expected wage disparity between the two sexes. After all, it is a centuries-old tradition.

The only question that had loomed was, “How much?” And the answer to that question is what has still managed to surprise.

Some high-level numbers to denote the gap:

  • Average median pay gap between men and women is 12%
  • A total of almost 8 in 10 companies pay men more than women in the UK
  • Men form the majority of the highest pay quartile in 19 of the 21 areas of the private sector.

Source: People Matters