New IBA GEI report emphasises the impact of current political and environmental developments on human resources

Thursday 23 May 2024

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The latest report from the International Bar Association Global Employment Institute (IBA GEI) states that political and environmental factors, such as the Russia-Ukraine war and the climate crisis are together reshaping employment landscapes around the world. In the IBA GEI’s Twelfth Annual Global Report (AGR) – based on data from lawyers in 54 countries – issues such as the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shift towards remote work and the challenge of skilled labour shortages, as well as the energy crisis exacerbated by the war between Russia and Ukraine, are identified as key areas for the human resources (HR) sector. Sustainability is also becoming increasingly relevant in terms of HR management.

The report covers trends in HR law during 2022 and (parts of) 2023 including the topics of: artificial intelligence and technology; corruption and whistleblowing; data protection; discrimination; dismissal and retirement; diversity; family-friendly policies and flexible working; temporary and contract work arrangements; stress and mental health; privacy and human rights; sustainability and ethical business; collective bargaining and industrial action; remuneration models including executive remuneration and banking reform; gender pay inequalities; immigration and talent; the impact of recent political and world events; and expected human resources challenges.

In 2022 and early 2023, flexible working arrangements have gained importance in a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many countries have introduced legislation to promote flexible working and support employees’ work-life balance, while some companies are adopting practices such as remote work and flexible schedules.

Björn Otto, IBA GEI Member and partner at CMS Hasche Sigle, Germany, commented: ‘The IBA GEI Annual Global Report will help companies understand and prepare for new human resources laws and trends. In today's fast-changing world of work, organisations face many new challenges, such as the increasing use of artificial intelligence as well as data security and privacy. The report shows how countries and legislators are addressing these issues and can support businesses in developing their own responses.’

As governments and organisations around the world change how they work, they are focusing more on work-life balance, productivity and employee well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic made flexible working the norm. What began as a quick change to new circumstances has now become a long-lasting change in working cultures worldwide. Some organisations have introduced a (trial) four-day week, so staff can enjoy longer weekends and as an incentive to attract talent to an organisation.

At the same time, the cost-of-living crisis is making life harder for workers. Governments and companies have found various ways to deal with the challenges of rising costs. There have been reports of reductions in energy costs, for example through electricity or gas credits and tax cuts in this area, as well as tax cuts on food. Employers in some countries also responded with wage increases in certain sectors.

In addition to flexible working arrangements in the workplace, key findings of the IBA GEI's 12th AGR for 2022/2023 include:
  • Alternative working models: the number of people working in alternative jobs has stayed the same over the last year. The demand for, and the number of, agency workers, ‘gig’ economy workers, freelancers, independent contractors and platform workers is still on the rise. This phenomenon is occurring on a global scale, with some countries having to grapple with the legal definition of temporary workers and their entitlement to social security. In accordance with data from previous years’ AGRs, the majority of countries continue to experience persistent skills shortages within their workforce. These shortages are evident across various sectors in the surveyed countries, regardless of professional requirements and salary levels. Certain sectors are particularly affected by these shortages. The Information Technology (IT) sector, for instance, has long-standing skills shortages. Similarly, the health sector is also mentioned by most countries, with jobs in this field often considered unattractive due to comparatively low pay, coupled with physical and mental health strain.
  • Russia-Ukraine conflict: the Russia-Ukraine conflict has affected labour markets in 2022 and 2023. Many Ukrainians have left their country to find work elsewhere. This has presented challenges and opportunities for host countries that must balance helping those in need with managing their own labour markets. The conflict has also contributed to rising gas prices, which have affected the global economy and labour markets. Rising energy costs have affected inflation rates and made it harder for employers in many sectors.
  • Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI): according to this 12th AGR, as with the previous AGR, the development of AI in HR legislation has been assessed differently over the reporting period of 2022 and parts of 2023. There are still large differences between sectors and progress seems to vary between countries. Many countries are using AI on a large scale and integrating it into everyday working life, for example through the use of chatbots in customer service or application processes, as well as in everyday procedures. Other countries, however, are still at an early stage of AI development. Overall, the prevailing opinion seems to be that, at least in many areas, AI is more likely to create jobs than replace existing ones. However, according to most of the countries surveyed, lower-skilled occupations in particular tend to be affected by job losses.

Todd Solomon, IBA GEI Member and partner at McDermott Will & Emery, US, remarked: ‘The COVID-19 pandemic was the catalyst for many of the developments we see today, which seem irreversible. However, it also raises the question of how to deal with the new and previously unknown challenges. With its overview of developments in many countries and companies, the 12th Annual Global Report can provide good guidance.’

Each IBA GEI Annual Global Report builds on the historical perspective of previous editions, increasing understanding and insight and highlighting international trends in HR law. The reports offer empirical evidence into the development of HR law and the range of employment legislation that exists worldwide.


Contact: IBApressoffice@int-bar.org

Notes to the Editor

  1. Click here to download a PDF of the IBA Global Employment Institute Report from the IBA website.

  2. The International Bar Association Global Employment Institute was formed in early 2010 for the purpose of developing a global and strategic approach to the main legal issues in the human resources and human capital fields for multinationals and worldwide institutions.

  3. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.

  4. Find the IBA on social media here:

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