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20 January 2021
Germany: telework becomes mandatory ‘where possible’ until 15 March 2021
On 19 January 2021 and in response to fears of the spread of new, more contagious Covid-19 variants, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of the Länder agreed to extend and tighten the current lockdown measures until 14 February 2021. Going forward employers will have to allow their employees to work from home, ‘wherever possible.’ Employees who have to travel to their place of work will benefit from new protective measures. To this end, on 20 January 2021 the Bundesrat adopted an ‘Ordinance on...
19 January 2021
Ireland: a landmark national strategy to develop remote work that intends to fast track the employee’s right to request remote work and the right to disconnect
On 15 January 2020, Ireland’s government published its first national remote work strategy (here), the goal of which is to ensure home and remote work becomes the norm after the pandemic ends. This strategy includes adopting legislation to provide employees the right to request remote work (Q3 2021) along with the introduction of a code of practice (Q1 2021) with Ministerial approval....
Remote work regulations
19 January 2021
Switzerland: entry into force of a somewhat vague telework obligation
According to an ordinance promulgated by Switzerland’s Federal Council on 13 January, telework is mandatory throughout Switzerland from 18 January 2021 to 28 February 2021. The measure that various lobbies have tried to stall since December 2020 was finally adopted prompted by the worsening health situation. So, what had previously been a recommendation has now become an obligation, potentially affecting nearly 2.1 million people, according to estimates by the Federal Statistical Office. However the ordinance is...
15 January 2021
Austria: social partners announce “general collective agreement” to support new national testing strategy
On 9 January, following consultation with the heads of the Länder and social partners, the Austrian government announced the introduction of a new testing strategy that, in parallel with the national vaccination campaign, should make it possible to open to a greater extent establishments in sectors such as catering as well as sport and culture, while the current lockdown measures remain in place. This strategy, which involves maintaining social distancing and protective measures combined with the principle of...
15 January 2021
Portugal: new lockdown decreed and remote work imposed
Following a meeting of Portugal’s Council of Ministers on 13 January, a new lockdown came into force on 15 January. The measure is to remain in place for a period of one month, but the duration may be revised at the halfway point. Authorities in the country have opted to impose remote working and to govern this with stricter controls. The new lockdown aims to slow down the spread of the second wave of Covid-19, which has taken an alarming new turn (10,000 new cases per day).
14 January 2021
Great Britain: the government makes an earnest call on companies to identify domestic violence and improve support for victims
During the UK’s first coronavirus lockdown in 2020 calls for domestic abuse services shot up 80%. In light of this and the ongoing trend in domestic abuse the government wrote an open letter to employers on 14 January 2021 encouraging them to mobilize and help employees suffering from domestic violence. This unprecedented initiative, being driven at a time when the U.K. is undergoing a fresh ‘lockdown’, follows a government consultation carried out in the latter half of 2020 on this issue (c.f. article...
13 January 2021
EU-China comprehensive agreement on investment: more promises than constraints
The conclusion-in-principle that was settled at the end of December ahead of ratification of the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CIA) has come after seven years of tough protracted negotiations. The EU has presented it as creating ‘a better balance in the EU-China trade relationship.’ The agreement aims to be pragmatic, in guaranteeing EU investors an unprecedented level of access to different sectors of the Chinese economy, under fairer competition conditions, and according to clearer rules...
13 January 2021
South Africa: a draft code of practices to combat harassment and violence in the workplace
On 11 January 2021, President Cyril Ramaphosa pledged to ratify ILO Convention No.190 (Harassment and Violence in the Workplace). South Africa however already has legislation that the government considers to be at the forefront on the subject. On 20 August 2020, Labor Minister, Thulas Nxesi, published draft legislation entitled ‘Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work,’ which above all clarifies the rules in light of the international convention and...
12 January 2021
EU: European Commission launches an consultation on allowing collective bargaining for self-employed workers
Faced with legal uncertainties resulting from European treaties that can see online platforms employees being considered as companies, and therefore any potential collective agreements as illegal, the European Commission is looking to allow self-employed workers have access to the right to collective representation. As such, the European Commission is launching a consultation that will run from 06 January – 03 February, and will publish the results with a view to adopting future legislation. While the...
12 January 2021
Vietnam: promises, some kept and some less so of the new revised Labor Code
On 30 December 2020, the International Labour Organization (ILO) welcomed the entry into force, as of 01 January 2021, of Vietnam’s revised Labour Code that was adopted in 2019. For Chang-Hee Lee, ILO local office director, this new Code “will enable the country to expedite the transition towards decent working conditions for all employees“, men and women, whatever the sector, even if the director hastened to add that the “new Labour Code makes numerous improvements which can bring benefits for...