Transportation Bill Includes Pension Funding Relief Measures, Enhanced Penalties for Motor Carrier Safety
On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012 (H.R. 4348), which includes several provisions establishing pension funding relief in addition to sections addressing motor vehicle carrier safety and operation. Read the full post here. (July 6)
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A bill that will significantly reform the Italian labour market was approved last week and published into the official journal on July 3.
The reforms introduce a wide variety of changes to the employment rules from the hiring to the firing of employees. Reinstatement is no longer the only remedy for unfair dismissals; while it remains applicable in some cases, the judge can order the employer to pay capped compensation. In the case of redundancy, a new procedure is to be followed before the Labour Office whereby the parties must try to settle the dispute before giving notice of the dismissal. New rules will also apply before the court when the employee challenges the fairness of a dismissal.
Furthermore, new regulations dealing with flexible contracts have been introduced. These regulations include an increase to the social contribution rate due on fixed-term contracts as well as a stricter use of contracts with independent contractors, which can lead under specific circumstances, to their relabeling as open-ended employment contracts. It therefore will become very risky for companies to engage under these types of contracts.
On the positive side, it is now possible to enter into a first time fixed-term employment or agency contract with an employee for a period that does not exceed 12 months, without having to specify the reasons for the fixed term.
These reforms introduce considerable changes to the Italian labour market and will enter into force on July 18th.
Transportation Bill Includes Pension Funding Relief Measures, Enhanced Penalties for Motor Carrier Safety Violations
The House and Senate approved a conference report to the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012 (H.R. 4348) that includes several provisions establishing pension funding relief in addition to sections addressing motor vehicle carrier safety and operation. Read the full post here. (June 29)
Supreme Court Upholds Constitutionality of Affordable Care Act
The U.S. Supreme Court narrowly held that the individual mandate to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty under the health care reform laws constitutional, upholding the mandate on the grounds that the penalty for refusing to purchase insurance constitutes a tax that Congress can legitimately impose under its taxing power. Read the full post here. (June 28)
Toby's Act (Right to be Free from Discrimination and Harassment Because of Gender Identity or Gender Expression), 2012 was passed on June 13, 2012 and received Royal Assent on June 19, 2012, just days before the start of Pride Week in Toronto.
That Act amends the Ontario Human Rights Code ("Code") such that discrimination on the basis of gender identity or gender expression is now prohibited in services, goods, facilities, contracts, employment and vocational associations such as trade unions, trade or occupational associations or self-governing professions. Similarly, harassment in accommodation or employment on those grounds is now prohibited.Continue Reading...
Bill Would Make It Easier to Bring Employment Discrimination Class Action Suits
Legislation introduced in both the House and Senate would lower the bar for class action certification in employment discrimination cases, and effectively invalidate last year's Supreme Court decision in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes. Read the full post here. (June 21)
SEC Adopts Final Rule Requiring Listing Standards for Compensation
The Securities and Exchange Commission has adopted a final rule implementing Section 952 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, which directs national securities exchanges/associations (e.g., NYSE, NASDAQ) to establish listing standards for public company boards of directors and compensation advisers. Read the full post here. (June 21)
As of 1 January 2012 the amount of leave available to employees in connection with parenthood increased. The supplementary maternity leave which a female employee may use after finishing the regular maternity leave (20-37 weeks based on the plurality of pregnancy) is currently 4 weeks in case of a single birth and 6 weeks in case of the birth of two or more children. The paternity leave available to an employee raising a baby has been extended too - it is 2 weeks now.
Sejm (the lower chamber of the Parliament) has adopted a bill on the consequences of employing foreigners who are staying illegally in the Republic of Poland. The act will enter into force once it is accepted by the Senate and signed by the President. It obligates the employers to demand from prospective foreign employees a confirmation of the right to stay in the country and sets forth penalties, also for legal entities, for employing illegal immigrants. At the same time it lays down provisions facilitating the pursuit of claims for unpaid remuneration by immigrants against employers.
Outstanding vacation leave may be granted until the end of September. Previously it had to be granted until the end of March. Despite some discussions on whether this deadline applies already to 2011 vacation leave or only to vacation leave acquired in 2012, eventually the view has prevailed that vacation leave from 2011 is already covered by the new law. It should be noted that it is the employer's duty to grant leave during the year in which the employee has acquired the right to it, and only in particular cases listed in the Labour Code it is possible to deviate from this rule and defer the leave until the following year.
FLSA Bills Would Increase Minimum Wage, Strengthen Non-Retaliation Provisions, Preserve Companionship Exemption, and Create New Exemption
A number of bills were introduced in the House and Senate that seek to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act and prevent an FLSA-related regulation from moving forward. Read the full post here. (June 15)
Senate Committee Hears Testimony on Employment Nondiscrimination Act
On June 12 the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing to discuss the merits of the bipartisan Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation that would create comprehensive employment anti-discrimination protections for individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Read the full post here. (June 12)
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In the weeks since our previous review, in April, of recent and forthcoming legal changes affecting UK workplaces, the detail of some of the Government's reform plans has become a little clearer and some novel proposals have emerged.
The Queen's Speech
The Queen's Speech on 9 May 2012 heralded two bills that will overhaul significant aspects of employment law - the Children and Families Bill and the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill.
The Children and Families Bill - not yet published - will include some of the reforms mooted in last year's Modern Workplaces consultation, although possibly not all of them. The Government's formal response to the consultation is expected shortly. The most significant proposals were:
- A new system of flexible parental leave, designed to give parents more choice about sharing childcare responsibilities in the early stages of as child's life. In outline, the scheme is likely to entail the mother taking 18 weeks' leave at or around the birth, with the remainder of the current 52-week maternity leave period being reclassified as "parental leave" to be taken flexibly by either parent.
- Extending the right to request flexible working to all workers who have been employed for 26 weeks, irrespective of the reason for the request. This would be based on the existing system for requesting flexible working for children/adult carers, retaining the current list of eight business reasons for employers turning down a request.