Happy New Year!

The start of the year is a good time for HR practitioners and legal counsel to refresh themselves on the laws that apply to employees in the region. In the first of a two-part series on discrimination protections in Asia, our team has prepared a handy table of the position in the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, Thailand and Japan here.

The employment landscape in Singapore continues to change following a number of recent developments. On 9 January 2017, the Singapore Parliament passed the Retirement and Re-employment (Amendment) Bill 2016, with changes to the ability for employers to reduce the salaries of workers who reach the age of 60, and a new exemption to the re-employment obligation. The re-employment age will also be increased from 65 to 67. Click here to read more about the Bill.

The second update from Singapore is the new requirement for Employment Pass holders to obtain a Letter of Consent from the Ministry of Manpower before taking up external directorships with other entities. This requirement was introduced in November last year, but has immediate effect. To check if your company is compliant, click here.

Over in Malaysia, we look at the case of Malayan Banking Berhad v Mahkamah Perusahaan Malaysia & Anor [2016] MLRHU 1, where the High Court ruled that, in an action for unfair dismissal, a fixed-term contract employee may only claim back wages in relation to the unexpired period of their contract. Despite this decision, however, employers should continue to exercise caution when making decisions as to whether to confirm the appointment of fixed-term contract employees. Read more on this case here.

In Hong Kong, the Securities and Futures Commission has recently issued a circular which introduces new measures to heighten the individual accountability of senior management of licensed corporations through the designation of one or more Managers in Charge of certain Core Functions. It is important that HR teams are engaged early on so that any consequential changes to HR processes can be implemented in parallel. Click here to read more about this interesting development.