An increasingly important purpose over the years for FedEE has been to sift through the growing mountain of misinformation, even from official sources, that pervade the media, social media and direct news sources around the World. The task has progressively become much harder and therefore we are frequently unable to accept the face value of much material that we gather. It is also important that we take sides with employers and reflect the multinational perspective on HR and legal developments – at a time when multinationals are unjustifiably being subject to an onslaught of suspicion and censure from many quarters. The public, governments and pressure groups should equally remember that cross border trade has transformed the global economy and why any significant numbers of us can live in peace and reasonable prosperity is primarily down to the multinational enterprise.
In this edition, we continue to monitor the passage of the pandemic as it closes borders once again in Europe, moves in the other direction to ease the use of personal protective measures in the USA and forces governments throughout the World to extend visa rules. We learn how the lockdown has changed wages in unexpected directions in Australia and brought about compulsory home working for pregnant women in Brazil. How injuries experienced by homeworkers in the Philippines are covered by workplace insurance, but how a homeworker slipping on their way between their domestic and work spaces at home is exempt from insurance cover in Germany.
The digitization of working life presents further threats as well as opportunities. We report on the growth of doxxing in Hong Kong (China), examine new global online deceptions, raise questions about “affective computing” and warn about a misinformation campaign waged by Russia in France. Meanwhile, the European Commission is continuing to tilt at windmills by threatening to impose a regulation that would block any Artificial Intelligence innovation that it chose to perceive as undermining fundamental social rights. At a positive level, however, we outline how the UK is examining ways to digitize, streamline and simplify the job tasks involved by those administering international trade.
On the labour relations front, employers across the EU should prepare for greater questioning of their decision to withhold commercial sensitive data from works councils. As we write, UK employers eagerly await a Supreme Court decision that will define the scope under Trade Unions and Labour Relations Act (TULRA) for employers to by-pass recognised trade unions. We report how new German legislation is in the pipeline to widen the scope for works councils but, most significant of all, point out how a seemingly obscure reference by a local Labour Court in Germany to the Federal Labour Court could eventually expose to view the EU‘s lack of powers under its Treaty in respect to matters relating to pay.
Finally, companies operating in Belgium must now revise their assumptions about severance pay calculations. Meanwhile, those in New Zealand will soon see sick pay days double each year from five to ten, whilst employers in Taiwan must prepare for the introduction of additional paid and unpaid leave for pregnant mothers and their partners. As Greece gears up to become the largest legal producer of cannabis in Europe, employers should, as a priority, develop policies about how to control this dangerous drug’s impact upon the workplace. Moreover, as our briefings illustrate, a more immediate threat comes from the rising recklessness of data protection authorities across the EU, as they use the GDPR to harass often unwitting employers.