The last two weeks have seen major news events and been increasingly busy for legislators and pay bargainers.
The most startling news has come out of Brazil with the largest data breach that the World has ever seen – covering personal details for virtually everyone in the population. Equally surprising has been the news that the UK is seeking to join the Trans Pacific trade partnership, even though it is thousands of kms from the pacific rim. In the USA, New Orleans is the latest Municipality to declare a new frontier for discrimination cases – an employee’s hairstyle.
On the pay front, new minimum wage orders have been flowing in from Latin America and across Europe, although a few governments – such as Kazakhstan and Hong Kong – have held out and declared minimum pay freezes. The Spanish government’s austerity policy has not been shared by all its sectors, with Lidl and the Spanish banking sector both concluding new collective agreements. Less to do with pay than reform has been the decision to restructure the Austrian trade sector agreement later this year. Similarly, the lull in oil and gas production has also given UK north sea contractors time to scrap the old Offshore Contractors Partnership Agreement (OCPA) and put something completely new in its place.
In the courts, Germany continues to remind us how straightforward it often is in this litigious state to dismiss a worker, even for minor infractions. Furthermore, we have the opportunity in this issue to compare the way two courts handled almost identical cases concerning pregnant mothers – one in the Irish Republic and the other in Norway.
We continue to highlight impending HR deadlines in locations ranging from Quebec to Uganda and indicate future areas of legislation such as the right to disconnect in the EU and the liberalization of labour relations in Australia. Meanwhile, the pandemic remains as strongly with us as any time within the last year, causing governments around the world to launch, and relaunch, wage subsidy programmes and offer extensions to visas and work permits. Equally, the economic impact of the lockdown is now revealing itself, particularly for the UK where the added impact of Brexit is only just becoming evident with a truly massive drop in exports during January 2021.