The Organisation for Multinational HRM
The Federation was Founded in June 1988 at a meeting of HR Directors in British Petroleum’s London Head Office. Our purpose then has virtually remained unchanged today – to establish an international database of employment law, pay and labour relations as a shared resource for multinationals in order to ensure both compliance and competitiveness in a fast, efficient and economical way.
Running a multinational HR Department is still getting tougher by the day. Speed is of the essence and there is a big premium on reducing uncertainty. Unfortunately, conventional ways to stay in control are lagging behind. Corporate counsel is not always around when you need them, and if you call your law firm you will have to join their call back list. Then there is the constant nagging doubt that the information provided is not really spot on, or up to date. Come quarter end there is the law firm bill on your desk – with every minute expensive and accounted for.
Our track record over 30 years means we have won the test of time. Our knowledgebase is larger than ever, with practical summaries of the legal obligations you may meet – from working time – to business transfers – to data protection. Free guides abound, but do you really trust their contents and are they updated daily like FedEE? We also have a fast, friendly legal helpline covering over 100 countries that can be accessed by member companies through a single call.
Unlike law firms too, our objective is to educate HR professionals to achieve a greater degree of self-help. To cut through the needless mystification of the legal world and come to their own views on how to act. A conventional lawyer is bound up in just one jurisdiction, but we are constantly dealing with multiple jurisdictions. We are also amongst the first in the world to spot trends and alert our members about the legal developments that may soon confront them and how seemingly innocent decisions can expose them to liability.
In most multinational HR departments there is someone in a senior position who is concerned with updating policies, reviewing employment contracts and giving internal advice on how to handle day to day legal problems. We know from member surveys that this function is not fully recognised or adequately trained – and therefore FedEE has set up its own advanced legal training course for HR professionals and even given this role a name – “HR Counsel”.
Legal compliance is becoming more important as multinational company’s seek to minimise litigation, more closely protect reputations and demonstrate their integrity in the face of challenges from government, anti-globalisation campaigners and the sheer intensity of competition itself. Our aim is to keep you out of court, reduce needless time wasted waiting for a lawyer to get back to you and provide practical answers that will allow you to move onto other priorities.
A brief history of the Federation up to the present day.
Differing employment rights and obligations around the world.
Remuneration and IR
Key reward and people management issues.
Ensuring policies and practices are lawful and rooted in good HR standards.
PLEASE NOTE: Due to the significant risk of abduction and deception by taxi or even private hire services, the best practice for companies sending executives or professionals to countries where they do not have representatives is to arrange for a registered guide to meet visitors at airports or rail stations. This will add to the visit cost, but in some locations the daily cost of a guide can be relatively low. To secure a guide, we suggest that only those registered with a national association affiliated to the WFTGA be used. Official guide costs can range from US$18 in Indonesia, US$32 in India and US$52 in Columbia to US$137 in Prague, US$363 in Munich and US$369 in Tokyo. Airport pick-ups are a normal part of a guide’s service and many will also offer interpretation and secretarial assistance.
USA: There is currently a high risk of tornados, severe storms and flooding across the states of Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Please check weather forecasts and warnings before you travel and expect flight disruptions or cancellations. Amtrak has temporarily suspended Kansas City-St Louis and Kansas City-Hutchinson trains through today (23rd May 2019). Chartered buses will provide substitute transportation.
SOUTH SUDAN: Avoid all travel to the country, due to armed conflicts, inter-ethnic violence and high levels of violent crime.
THAILAND: Always stay vigilant due to ongoing political tensions and sporadic demonstrations in Bangkok and elsewhere in the country.
UK: Luton Airport staff are set to launch industrial action until June the 3rd – lasting 12 days in total amid disagreements over security guard working hours.
JAPAN: Trains in the Kanto region covering the Tokyo metropolitan area has been disrupted due to heavy rains.
NIGERIA: The Federal Government has declared May the 29th and June the 12nd as public holidays to mark the transition to a new government and Democracy Day respectively. Four aviation unions have started a nationwide indefinite strike.
GEORGIA: Independence Day celebrations will take place nationwide on May the 26th. Expect increased security measures, traffic disruptions, and large crowds.
INDONESIA: Violent protests continue across the country following the Indonesia election result. Please stay away from any demonstrations. Expect government-imposed social media restrictions in some areas.
NETHERLANDS: Expect public transportation disruptions as workers from trade union FNV have planned a 24-hour strike on the 28th of May 2019.
NEW ZEALAND: With effect from the 1st of October 2019, British nationals travelling by air or cruise and entering New Zealand without a visa (tourists) will need to hold an ETA before travelling to New Zealand. Applications for ETAs will be open from July 2019.
ERITREA: Independence Day celebrations will take place nationwide on May the 24th. Please stay vigilant and away from large crowds.
INDIA: General elections voting results will be issued on the 23rd of May 2019. Stay vigilant and avoid large gatherings.
AFRICA: Camair-Co has temporarily suspended its regional routes due to a financial issues.
JAMAICA: The State of Emergency in the parishes of St James, which includes Montego Bay, Hanover and Westmoreland has been extended to the 13th of August 2019.
SINGAPORE: The minimum age for the purchase, use, possession, sale and supply of all tobacco and related products in Singapore is 19 years old. This will be raised to 20 years in 2020. Noncompliance will lead to fines.
LAOS: It should be noted that Thailand currently allows only two crossings per annum at the land border between Laos and Thailand.
TURKEY/TAJIKISTAN: All Turkish Airlines flights to Tajikistan are now from the new Istanbul Airport.
COMOROS: You should avoid non-essential travel to this country due to limited emergency services, inadequate medical facilities and damage caused by tropical cyclone Kenneth.
HUNGARY: With effect from August 2019, no scheduled flights will be allowed to take off or land at Budapest’s international Liszt Ferenc Airport between midnight and 5 am.
ECUADOR: Exercise increased caution in the country due to crime.
YEMEN: Do not travel to the country due to terrorism, civil unrest, health risks, kidnapping, and armed conflict.
BURUNDI: Avoid all travel to Burundi, due to ongoing political tensions, civil unrest and armed violence.
KAZAKHSTAN: The capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, has formally renamed to Nur-Sultan.
ICELAND: Icelandic low-cost carrier WOW Air has temporarily suspended all flights due to financial crisis.
MALI: Avoid all travel to Mali (including the capital, Bamako), due to the threat of terrorism and banditry.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Do not travel to the country in any circumstances due to widespread violent crime and serious civil unrest.
GUINEA-BISSAU: Reconsider travel to the country due to high levels of crime, and civil unrest.
UAE: Dubai International Airport (DXB) will be closed until the 30th of May 2019 due to runway refurbishment. Passengers may take a shuttle bus between DXB and the Dubai World Central (DWC) at no cost during the closure period.
INDIA: Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before visiting India as Zika continues to be a risk throughout the country.
MADAGASCAR: Visitors to Madagascar should ensure they are vaccinated against measles with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine as there is a large measles outbreak on this island country.
UGANDA: Please exercise great caution in the country due to muggings and theft, especially in urban centres.
GEORGIA(CAUCASUS): Visitors are advised to have a valid travel insurance policy – as airlines at check-in or immigration authorities may ask to provide evidence of this upon arrival in the country.
M&A in Europe
In a European HR context we usually have to face M&As head on when dealing with the protection of employees during a business transfer (or change of service provider). In the UK alone there are over 30,000 such transfers each year. In the European Union, back in the early days of the Acquired Rights Directive (ARD), it did not matter what kind of M&A was taking place, employers were effectively banned from making any redundancies at the time of the deal and were always required to inform and consult employees. Gradually, however, the chains loosened. Canny lawyers discovered the ETO loophole. This states that an ARD-related dismissal will be automatically unfair unless there is an economic, technical or oganisational (ETO) reason for making a redundancy. Under this banner employers have committed a multitude of sins, virtually making the ARD a toothless instrument.
Yet there is still more. Now it is becoming easier than ever in the EU to classify a business transfer as not subject to information and consultation at all. Although ARD looks like it is all encompassing – and can even be applied to transfers within the same corporate Group – the only companies that apply it are those who fail to take effective prior legal advice, are saddled with a highly restrictive collective agreement or a works council able to exercise codetermination rights. Ironically, although for the ARD to apply, the resulting entity after the M&A must be effectively the same as before – it is also necessary for the identity of the employer to change. Thus, an ARD transfer will not take place where there is just a transfer of shares.
The “only shares transfer” exemption arose in the early days of ARD where there was an attempt to remove the necessity to consider a transfer had taken place every time a significant amount of shares changed hands on the stock market. Eventually, however, all takeovers of one entity by another involving a share purchase, swap or other transfer mechanism were classified as exempt, provided the operations of the business being taken over remained unchanged up to the point of the transfer. This exemption has proven, however, to be directly against the spirit of the ARD – as the new controlling entity will be in a position to do what it wants with the new acquisition once the transfer day has passed.
Africa / Middle East
GLOBAL: The latest OECD composite leading indicators have just been published. In its normal euphemistic way the OECD suggests that it simply points “to easing growth momentum in most major economies”. This language is clearly designed not to alarm. However, it now adds the last piece of data necessary to confirm that within 6-9 months we have reached the lowest economic downpoint since the last recession 10 years ago. What is more, the recession has already begun and was finally triggered this week by Wall Street’s reaction to the China-US trade war and heightening tension in the Persian Gulf that could endanger oil supplies. Companies that have not already done so should freeze all new hires (except organisational/technically critical ones) and begin to examine options for the necessary downsizing that most surely lies ahead. It is not a time for panic, but one for “action stations”.
NAMIBIA: The Cabinet Secretary, George Simataa, has issued a circular reminding all officials that they must accept their legal obligation to retire at age 60 and that they have early retirement options. He also hopes that the message will pass to all senior executives in major enterprises. The government is also encouraging early retirement because it estimates that a saving of N$670.5 million (US$47.7M) could be made each year if 40% of civil servants aged between 55 and 59 retired.
TOGO: The small west African state of Togo has just established a cybersecurity agency – the ANCY. Its principal aim will be to defend IT systems across the country from cyberattacks. It will not have a function, as yet, to protect personal data per se.
EGYPT: The minimum monthly wage in Egypt has just been increased by 67% from 1,200 Egyptian pounds (US$69) to 2,000 Egyptian pounds (US$115.7). Monthly state pensions have also increased by 15% to 900 pounds (US$52).
EO and HRIS
Brussels & Rome Rules
The Enemy Within
Although industrial espionage is the stuff of Hollywood thrillers, it is also a fairly common phenomenon in everyday life. The reason we seldom know about it is because most employers are unaware it is happening to them and, if they do, it is hardly something they wish to allow into the public domain.
After the second world war the attention of intelligence agencies widened to assist the development of domestic companies in both manufacturing and services – as they could penetrate walls of secrecy that enterprises could not breach. Such activities have been widely documented in such fascinating accounts as “Friendly Spies” by the US investigative journalist Peter Schweizer – who also charts the more disturbing trend of corporate theft by agents of individual foreign rival firms.
A competitor company can so easily access a rival’s secrets by ensuring that it hires senior staff whose loyalties lie with their old (or an associated) firm. So, the company that feels they have made a coup by enticing an employee away from a rival (often through an expensive head hunter) may actually just be paying for an enemy in its midst. Ironically too the EU Directive on the Protection of Trade Secrets contains a wonderful exception clause that exempts from its limitations any data given to employee representatives under statutory information and consultation obligations. Hence, the easiest way to penetrate a company’s privacy shield is simply to find a disgruntled works council member willing to asks some penetrating and sensitive questions.
CANADA: Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act has just been introduced to cut job-related regulation in 30 areas. The government is aiming by next year to reduce regulatory requirements facing businesses by 25% and save companies $400M (US$299M) a year. However, many of the changes to date have been very minor and largely benefit small businesses.
MEXICO: The #MeToo movement has made it to Mexico. Earlier this month, hundreds of high-profile female writers, academics and journalists shared their experiences of sexual harassment in the workplace through social media. A recent study suggests that 73% of women who have worked in the media have suffered sexual harassment, whilst the phenomenon is considered so normal in public places throughout Mexico City that women have resorted to using special women-only buses and trains.
USA: The Michigan Paid Medical Leave Act has recently come into force. This stipulates that employers with 50+ workers are required to provide 40 hours’ annual paid sick leave to those workers within Michigan for mental and physical health conditions and treatments, issues concerning domestic violence, and the care of family members. Employers found not to be compliant with the Act may be subject to fines.
Move to FT Work
PT Leave Rights
Year 1 Leave
The Fluid Workforce
The Shape of Things to Come
There will be several important trends in the field of employment law over the next 3-5 years – and they will have a profound impact on employment levels and employability.
Litigation will be going underground as an increasing number of employment contracts contain mandatory arbitration clauses. There will therefore be less case law upon which to base legal opinion. It will also become lawful to include clauses prohibiting participation in “class action” law suits – this is already the case in the USA because of the recent case Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis – although there will be more laws preventing “gagging orders”.
There is already a great concern, particularly in Europe, for gender pay gap reporting. However, a new equal pay law in New Jersey has extended equal pay requirements to other protected characteristics – such as race, religion, sexual orientation and disability, as well as gender. This has huge consequences, particularly if the concept is taken up more generally by other jurisdictions. Another feature of both the New Jersey and recent Massachusetts Acts is the requirement for all companies to rate their jobs using a factor-based job evaluation scheme.
Company codes of practice already have a major part to play in corporate governance, but they are gradually taking over from HR policies as the basis for containing whistleblowing actions and terminating senior company executives.
How far travelling to a client is working time is still not settled law, even in the European Union where the European Court of Justice ruling in Tyco (C-266/14) seemed to have resolved the question. But two more recent French court cases have run counter to the ruling and the possibility that other work-related time – like commuting or staying away from home on a business trip – might have to be fully remunerated and counted against weekly working time limits could massively endanger company profitability.
Asia / Pacific
INDIA: Labour unrest in Mumbai’s special economic zone has led to unionisation, especially in the diamond industry. As a result, there have been extensive closures in cutting, polishing, and trading sectors. The Diamond Workers’ Union is now turning its attention to Surat in Gujarat, where it has recently registered with the Labour Department and has started a 5 month-long drive to recruit members.
JAPAN: Over the year to February 2019, inflation-adjusted real wages in Japan fell 1.1%. Regular pay, which accounts for the bulk of monthly wages, dropped 0.2%. Special pay (including bonuses), however, dived 34.2% to 3,262 yen (US$29). Additionally, nonregular pay, such as overtime, fell 0.5% to 19,644 yen (US$175).
MACAU: The second round of discussions on the Employment Agency Regulation has commenced recently. If the regulation is adopted, employment agencies in Macau will have the responsibility to help foreign workers integrate better into work and the community. Employment agencies would also not be allowed to operate in industrial buildings, hotels, and public facilities.
Working During Maternity
Mandatory Arbitration Clauses
Professionally Qualified HR Counsel®
Can you practice law as an HR Professional?
Yes, now you can train and be recognised for being your corporate in-house expert on the application of employment laws across several jurisdictions worldwide. The Advanced Diploma Programme only available through FedEE’s Academy provides a comprehensive grounding in virtually every aspect of employment law in 10 key jurisdictions worldwide. Once obtained, the graduate may also use the designation Qualified Professional HR Counsel (QP-HR Counsel®) or simply HR Counsel®.
The programme operates on a distance learning basis, although every participant has at their service the support of a personal tutor.
The prgramme is designed specifically for busy HR people, with a facility to take modules when time allows. There are 25 modules in the entire programme, broken down into 4 courses. Each course represents a credit that, once completed, can be carried over to obtain a Diploma or Advanced Diploma in Multijurisdictional Employment Law.
EU/GLOBAL: Gross Domestic Product (economic growth) across the EU as a whole over the year to Q1 2019 was +1.5%. This is down from +2.2% in Q2 2018. The rate of annual growth, however, in the eurozone was lower – at just +1.2%. According to the OECD’s composite leading indicators the World’s advanced economies are now heading for the worst recessionary downward cycle since June 2008 to December 2009. The deterioration began in July 2018, although (as the indicators are predictive) the underlying fall will not register in GDP figures for 6-9 months. The evidence suggests a recession will be very evident by late Summer 2019, although it is not possible to say how deep it will eventually become. The trajectory appears to be shallower than in 2008, but the major factor that could cause it to suddenly dip is Brexit. If Britain leaves the EU, with or without a deal, the economic ripples could trigger a collapse to 2009 levels. Employers should therefore not contemplate any major expansions until the picture becomes clearer. We are monitoring the trend and if it bottoms out soon we will let FedEE Members know.
FRANCE: Recent case law from the French Labour Courts is inconsistent concerning the implementation of the so-called ‘Macron Scale’ of damages for unfair dismissal introduced back in September 2017. However, in the past few months several lower labour courts appear to be treating it as unenforceable, even though the Constitutional Court has ruled that the scale is in conformity with the French Constitution. The scale arguably breaches the employee’s right to adequate compensation as set out in ILO Convention 158 and the European Social Charter. Fortunately, the issue is expected to be clarified this summer when the first relevant Court of Appeals decision will be issued.
ITALY: A total of 30,850 work permits will be issued for non-EU workers during the course of 2019. More specifically, 12,850 for non-seasonal workers and freelancers, and 18,000 for seasonal workers. Employers in Italy should begin work on their applications for work permits as soon as possible to increase their chances of success.
Q&A in Brief
Join FedEE® Today
Sense out of uncertainty: HR without borders
Many of the world’s largest multinational companies already belong to The Federation of International Employers (FedEE®). We have a Worldwide membership – with particular concentrations in North America, Western Europe, India, Japan and China. A high proportion of our members have been part of FedEE for many years and tell us we provide a both unique and excellent service with great value for money. In fact, in a membership survey, 96% of members informed us they would not hesitate in recommending us to other multinational enterprises.
If your company has over 200 employees in two or more countries, has its own in-house HR department, and has been operating for two or more years then you really cannot afford to operate without being part of the Federation. The approval process takes less than a day and for immediate access to our services we have an online credit card payment facility. Membership costs as little as €895 a year – but with our “Global” grade Membership you may have up to 25 individual users of our services anywhere in your global operations, and 15 helpline enquiries – with direct access to our in-house team of barristers, statisticians, HR specialists and labour relations experts. Sign up now.
Why not take a short tour of our knowledge-base before joining FedEE® to see the nature and extent of the employment law and HR data that we offer? Please contact our Membership Secretary to arrange for a one-to-one webinar for you and your colleagues, arranged entirely at your own convenience.
Corresponding Law Firms
We have signed agreements with corresponding law firms around the world. The Federation shall be working in cooperation with this growing network of expertise to bring corporate members a fast, global service.
Engaging and practical pieces produced by FedEE® staff covering issues of concern for multinational HR professionals. These papers are illustrative of guidance notes we provide in our knowledge-base. They principally provide a European perspective – although the material available to corporate member organisations is largely pan-global.
Training & Events
Book your place for FedEE®’s advanced professional course for HR practitioners in multi-jurisdictional employment law. Join other HR professionals for the World’s first, advanced professional transnational law training course in employment law.
FedEE® Secretary General Robin Chater’s comments on HR-related developments around the world. Robin has an unequalled understanding of developments in employment law, particularly in the European Union. He was formerly an advisor to the European Commission for ten years and has counselled numerous multinationals on a wide range of HR issues.
Getting Involved With FedEE®
FedEE® Senior Management Team
Payments & Administration
FedEE® Perspectives on Global Regions
Customised & Individual Services Just for You
We now provide a wide range of customised employment law and HR-related services to member and non-member organisations. These are offered at highly competitive rates and can draw on FedEE’s vast range of in-house expertise, data and services.
FedEE-Consult helps HR departments around the world become and remain successfully multinational. Although we specialise in assisting ….read more…
The Employment Standards Institute (E–SI)
The Institute has been established by The Federation to undertake research into, and training about, a wide variety of employment-related topics – including the implementation of ISO HR standards, the growth of ADR mechanisms in the light of mandatory arbitration clauses (Epic Systems), the extension of equal pay to cover all protected categories (the New Jersey Law)… read more…