Issue 44

Welcome to the latest edition of our international employment news update.

Major changes to UAE labour law

A new UAE labour law will come into effect on 2 February 2022. It applies to all employees in the private sector with two exceptions: those based in the Dubai International Finance Centre and the Abu Dhabi Global Market. It means significant changes in employment practices. One is that all employees must be employed on fixed-term contracts, not exceeding three years. Those currently on unlimited-term employment contracts will see them converted by 2 February 2023. Other changes include the ability to pay employees in any currency; enhanced part-time and flexible working arrangements; new provisions on discrimination, bullying and harassment; revisions to end of service gratuity calculations; changes to maternity leave and compassionate leave; curbs on the length of non-compete restrictions in contracts; and changes to probationary periods. More about the changes in detail here.

Works Council elections: French managers given right to vote

Until now, employees 'assimilated to the employer' were not allowed to vote in the election of the Social and Economic Committee ('CSE') members (ie the Works Council). Employees 'assimilated to the employer' are those that represent the employer to employee delegates, or have particular management authority. Examples include the Head of HR, or a manager entitled to hire or sanction other employees. These individuals are obliged to be neutral, which means they were prohibited from voting in the election of CSE members.

In November 2021, the Conseil Constitutionnel (the French High Court which judges cases in light of the French Constitution) decided that the rule constituted a disproportionate infringement of the workers’ participation principle. They therefore held that, as from 31 October 2022, employees 'assimilated to the employer' will be allowed to vote in the election of CSE members.

Pay rise in Germany for almost two million workers

The new coalition government in Germany will take office in December. Led by the Social Democrats, the coalition will introduce a minimum wage of €12/hour. This is a €3,50 increase from the original €8,50 set in 2015 when the national minimum wage was introduced. The pay rise will affect the wages of almost two million people in Germany.

Germany's gender pay gap

Germany's new government has vowed to address the country's gender pay gap which, at 19.2%, is one of the widest in Europe. It hopes to introduce stronger legislation to lessen the gap and increase wage transparency. At the moment, the German government is supporting the EU directive on pay transparency which is being debated by the European Commission and parliament. It is possible that this may not go far enough to address the German gender pay gap as the Confederation of German Employers' Associations commented that the directive fails to deal with the root causes of pay inequality such as career choice and part-time work.

Netherlands' unemployment rate falls to pre-COVID levels

The Netherlands' unemployment rate fell to 2.9% in October 2021 which is the same as the country's unemployment rate in February 2020, a month before the COVID-19 pandemic began. The low rate has been attributed to the country's strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and that demand for workers is high with staff shortages in a number of sectors. Indeed, at the end of September 2021, there were 126 vacancies for every 100 unemployed individuals. This is the second quarter in a row that there have been more vacancies than unemployed individuals in the Netherlands.

European workers tempted by social media work

According to a Morgan Stanley poll of 12,500 people based in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the UK, around one in 10 workers is contemplating leaving their main job in the next six months, and looking to instead earn money from social media, e-commerce or trading platforms. The survey showed that those earning less than €40,000 per year were the most eager to switch jobs and that 'millennials' were the age group most likely to pursue online opportunities.

Banks pledge to compensate Hong Kong based staff for quarantine hotel cost

JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley have said they will compensate their Hong Kong-based teams for the quarantine hotel expenses they face when returning to the city from particular types of personal travel. Currently, Hong Kong requires most inbound passengers to isolate for up to 21 days in specific hotels. Financial companies have warned that the strict rules make it hard to hire and retain employees in Hong Kong. Starting in December, Morgan Stanley plans to offer a single payment of up to $5,130 for staff who have to quarantine on their return to the city after visiting family members abroad. JP Morgan said that it would be developing a similar policy.