Practice Area Articles
International Employment Law Map
January 16, 2023
By Paul Hastings Professional
MAPPING THE TRENDS: THE GLOBAL EMPLOYER UPDATE 2023
16 January 2023
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 2023,” provides updates on the key employment law developments across 83 jurisdictions to help our clients manage their global workforces. Our report is compiled from feedback from our local employment law counsel network around the globe who see the key issues and trends in their jurisdictions. After all, local realities impact global strategies.
Top 3 Global Trends for 2023
Undoubtedly, the economic situation is the key standout trends for employers with a global workforce as we look ahead to 2023. For the most part, employment law in many jurisdictions is buffered by economic, political and cultural change. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the war in Ukraine and the longer-term impact of pandemic measures, such as the end of emergency government spending measures, has resulted in material economic headwinds and the rise, and rise, in inflation in the United States, most of Europe, across Central and South America, Australia, Canada and Japan. It is a perfect storm. Few employers can afford for their wage bills to keep pace with spiralling inflation. Governments are tinkering with minimum wage increases but cannot implement significant measures without this fuelling inflation. Employees are struggling with the cost of living and unions are becoming more popular and active. Unfortunately, the upshot is a turbulent economic outlook, with noticeable headcount reductions and restructurings, as global employers and governments pull various economic levers to ride out the storm this year.
Whether driven in part by the ripple effect of the #MeToo movement, the emphasis on the ‘S’ of ESG or a greater focus on international employment standards and human rights as encapsulated in the ILO’s Violence and Harassment Convention No. 190, governments around the world continue to take legislative steps and measures to address the issue of harassment in the workplace. We see this in the latest developments identified by local counsel across all of the surveyed regions: in Europe, this is flagged by local counsel in Denmark, Lithuania, Luxembourg and the UK; in Asia, by local counsel in China, Malaysia and Pakistan; in Africa, by Nigeria and South Africa; for the Americas, there are new developments in California, Puerto Rico, and Argentina; and for both Australia and New Zealand. While the Middle East may be missing from this list, the UAE brought in new sexual harassment laws in 2022. Some of these measures look to extend time for claimants to raise complaints, require employers to formulate and implement comprehensive procedures, and re-visit existing policies in light of the various forms of on-line harassment, cyber-bullying and mobbing. For the most part, the focus of these measures and developments are sexual harassment and gender equality based, however there are also measures such as in Luxembourg where there is a new legislative framework for moral harassment. In light of this, we expect that the increased awareness, expanded rights and in some cases new rights, will result in more litigation and an uptick in compensation in 2023.
The Next Normal Debate: Changing Working Practices
As the world (for the most part) has emerged from the pandemic, government and global employers are still grappling with some of the fundamental elements of working life. In 2022, we experienced a war for talent, the ‘great resignation’ and employees having greater bargaining power than ever before. The disruption to traditional working patterns and practices led to continued hybrid working and the desire for increased flexibility and work-life balance. We saw employees wanting to work from anywhere, and global employers getting to grips with the employment law, immigration and tax risk associated with acceding to those requests to retain talent. In 2023, it is evident from the responses from local counsel that this will remain a hot topic as flagged by local counsel in Angola, Belgium, Chile, Estonia, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Oman, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Switzerland and the UK. And, other jurisdictions also raise related issues in relation to global mobility and changing immigration laws. Even despite the economic turbulence and the inevitable shift in bargaining power back to employers, it is difficult to conceive that the majority of those employees who now work flexibly will ever return full-time to the traditional working models. (The proverbial horse has bolted, so to speak). But, there is an on-going debate as to what the ‘next normal’ will be or should be, and employers continue to re-assess the appropriate working practices for their workforce and businesses.
We encourage you to explore our guide to learn more about how the trends above are playing out across the 83 jurisdictions covered in this edition. We hope that this will also enable you to identify the action items relevant to your global workforce. To discuss any of these updates and how they may impact your company, please contact me or another member of our International Employment practice.
Suzanne Horne, Partner
Kirsty Devine, Associate
Aashna Parekh, Associate