Hong Kong: Proposed changes to discrimination laws

On 30 November 2018, legislation was gazetted which proposes various amendments to the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, Disability Discrimination Ordinance, Family Status Discrimination Ordinance and the Race Discrimination Ordinance. The proposed amendments reflect eight of the recommendations from the Equal Opportunities Commission Report on the Discrimination Law Review. Key changes include extending protections against discrimination on the ground of breastfeeding and extending protections against disability and racial harassment by customers.

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Australia: Workplace violence and red collar crime: Is it more threatening than you think?

Workplace violence is a significant and ongoing risk that employers should be alive to because it affects employee health, safety and wellbeing, which in turn impacts on productivity, absenteeism, sickness and replacement costs, to name a few.  In respect of the individual, it often causes physical or psychological injury and can even lead to death. In respect of the employer and industry more broadly, it can play out as an expensive scenario in terms of resources, money, time, good will, reputation and increased workers’ compensation and insurance premiums. Unfortunately however, the extent and prevalence of workplace violence in Australia is somewhat unknown. This is partly due to definitional ambiguities, the absence of national data being collected in this area and under-reporting. Continue reading

India: Maharashtra Adopts Model Shop and Establishments Legislation

By way of the Maharashtra Shops and Establishments Act, 2017, the state of Maharashtra has adopted the Central Government’s model legislation intended to increase the ease of doing business and boosting employment opportunities for women. The Act represents significant reform of the prevailing legislation and employers should take note of the changes to ensure compliance and to best utilise the flexibility afforded by the new regime.

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UK: employers should review sexual harassment policies and staff training

The continuing media focus on sexual harassment claims has highlighted an issue which poses a significant challenge for all employers, to ensure there is clarity over what behaviours are unacceptable and that employees both feel safe to report concerns and confident that complaints will be dealt with fairly and appropriately.

In early December the Equality and Human Rights Commission wrote to the chairs of FTSE 100 companies and other leading organisations to warn that they face enforcement action (which could include a formal investigation) where there is evidence of systemic failing in preventing, or dealing with, sexual harassment. Organisations have been asked to supply evidence by 19 January 2018 of the safeguards they have in place to prevent sexual harassment and to ensure that it can be safely reported without fear of retribution, and how they plan to prevent harassment in the future. Continue reading

UK: board diversity report and updated executive search code

The Parker Review Committee has published its final report into the ethnic diversity of UK boards. The final recommendations are substantively the same as those published in a 2016 consultation draft. The final report recommends that there should be at least one director of colour on each FTSE 100 board by 2021 and each FTSE 250 board by 2024. There are also recommendations on ensuring the pipeline, executive search principles, and that commentary on a company’s efforts to increase ethnic diversity within its organisation, including at board level, should be included in the description of the company’s diversity policy set out in the annual report. Companies that do not meet the board composition recommendations by the relevant date should disclose why this is the case. Continue reading

APAC: Workplace Harassment

The daily allegations of harassment in the press and social media campaigns highlighting the prevalence of harassment around the world should prompt business leaders and HR teams to ensure that they understand their obligations and review whether their internal processes will effectively manage employee complaints and withstand scrutiny. With this in mind, this month, we take a look at the key obligations and remedies in respect of workplace harassment, around the region.

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Asia: Mandatory Employment Policies

HR practitioners will be aware that work rules are mandatory in certain jurisdictions in Asia once an employer reaches a specified number of employees. However, an often-overlooked area is whether employers must or should establish other types of employment-related policies in addition to such work rules.

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