UK: ECJ cases raise doubts over the inclusion of regular voluntary overtime in holiday pay calculations and over record-keeping requirements

Comments made in an ECJ judgment on a German working time case have raised doubts as to the correctness of the UK Employment Appeal Tribunal’s rulings that pay during the 4 weeks EU-derived statutory holiday must include an amount for voluntary overtime (if sufficiently regular and paid over a sufficient period). In Hein v Albert Holzkamm, the ECJ noted that remuneration for overtime of an “exceptional and unforeseeable nature” need not be included when calculating holiday pay, but that overtime pay should be included where a worker’s contract obliges them to work overtime “on a broadly regular and predictable basis and the corresponding pay constitutes a significant element of the total remuneration”. Domestic legislation does not need to be interpreted as giving the right that pay received for overtime work be taken into account unless these conditions are satisfied. Continue reading

Thailand: Respecting Workers’ Rights

Human rights continue to keep the pressure on Thailand’s fishing industry, as forced labour and exploitation claims get increasing exposure.

Human rights groups continue to report of coercive labour practices in Thailand, in particular, in the fishing industry. In 2015, the European Union (“EU”) raised a yellow flag on Thailand’s illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing problems.

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South Korea: new government announces proposals to increase support for work-life balance

South Korea's new President Moon Jae-In has announced the Government's support for greater work-life balance for Korean employees, including proposals to curb Korea's notoriously long work days, broaden parental leave and ease the burden of childcare costs.

Following President Moon Jae-In's election on 9 May 2017, the Korean Government has pledged to introduce a variety of measures to help curb long working hours and improve work-life balance for ordinary Koreans.

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Hong Kong: The labour policy promises of the new Chief Executive

On 26 March 2017, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was elected as the city's next (and first female) chief executive, after winning 777 votes from a 1,194-member election committee. In a 520-page manifesto, Carrie Lam set out her policy campaign including, briefly, her views on how the government under her leadership would address certain topical labour issues. This article summarises what we can expect from a new government under Carrie Lam's leadership.

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Japan: Combatting the overtime culture

Currently, employers are in principle prohibited from causing employees to work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week. Subject to a Labour Management Agreement being entered into with a union consisting of more than half the employees in the company or with an employee representative representing more than half the employees, employers can cause employees to work overtime hours of up to 45 hours a month or 360 hours a year. However, employers can escape this rule if special provisions can be agreed.

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Asia: Human rights – modern slavery and labour issues

Concerns in relation to “modern slavery” are increasingly important for businesses to recognise. This is especially so in Asia, where poor enforcement mechanisms and unfamiliarity with employee rights often result in exploitative working conditions. What can companies do to ensure that their business and supply chains are free from unethical labour practices?

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Asia: Working hours

Rules on working hours vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and can be tricky to implement in practice. This month, we take a look at the standard working hours in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, Japan and Thailand.

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Hong Kong: Consultation on standard working hours proposals and recommendations for discrimination law reform

  • The Standard Working Hours Committee has released a discussion paper for public comment on policy options for regulating working hours in Hong Kong. Currently, there is no statutory restriction on the number of working hours for employers aged 18 years or over and no legislatively prescribed rate of pay for overtime worked. Following a first-stage consultation and survey, the Committee is now seeking public comment by 24 July 2016 on a dual-pronged approach, comprising:
    • the "big frame": legislation requiring parties to enter into written employment agreements specifying working arrangements, including for example working hours, rest breaks and the method of calculating overtime pay (which may include no overtime pay);

    • the "small frame": involves additional rules for grassroots employees with lower income, lower skills and less bargaining power, to regulate weekly working hours and mandate overtime pay.

Comment is also sought as to whether other policy measures (eg, voluntary guidelines for individual sectors) would be more appropriate.

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