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Issues connected to the ‘new normal’ way of working following the global COVID-19 outbreak of December 2019 present fresh challenges for human resources (HR) law, according to the tenth annual report by the International Bar Association Global Employment Institute (IBA GEI). Remote working arrangements, the right to disconnect from work and data privacy challenges related to requirements to be tested or vaccinated are identified as three key issues facing the HR sector in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Todd Solomon, IBA GEI Co-Chair, commented: ‘It is undeniable that the pandemic has permanently altered the way we live and work. Our tenth annual report, covering 2020 and the beginning of 2021, offers a valuable insight into how international HR law, including employment, industrial relations, discrimination and immigration, is adapting to the ongoing situation. Lawyers from 55 countries offered their responses on topical issues, with a focus on government-led initiatives and employers’ reactions to mitigate the health and safety issues surrounding COVID-19.’
Building on the historical perspective of previous reports, the IBA GEI Tenth Annual Report identifies global shifts and new developments in HR law over the past year. The most pertinent issues faced by multinational companies are examined in greater detail, with topics including COVID-19; employment disputes, dismissal and retirement; corruption and whistleblowing; the ‘gig economy’; flexible working and family-friendly policies; mental health and absenteeism; data protection, privacy and human rights; discrimination and diversity; artificial intelligence (AI) and technology; unions, collective bargaining and industrial action; banking reform and executive remuneration; the gender pay gap; and immigration and talent. The impact of recent political and world events, such as Brexit and trade conflicts between the United States and China, are also considered in the context of expected future HR challenges.
Faced with a global pandemic at the beginning of 2020, many countries implemented measures to reduce social interaction and contain the virus. Closing educational establishments, hospitality services and workplaces, preventing international travel and requiring individuals to quarantine all impacted the HR sector. A ‘new normal’ was established, where working from home became commonplace with some employers introducing a requirement for employees to test for COVID-19 prior to visiting the workplace.
Key findings of the IBA GEI’s tenth annual report around HR legislation issues associated with the ‘new normal’ way of working in 2020/2021 include:
Björn Otto, Lead Author of the IBA GEI Tenth Annual Report, stated: ‘It was inevitable that the COVID-19 pandemic would have a significant impact on the global landscape of work. The long-term repercussions for governments, businesses, employers and employees remain to be seen, but the latest report from the IBA GEI offers an insight into the current state of HR law and how it is evolving. Viewed together with reports from previous years, this report will form empirical evidence of the adaptions taking place in these times of great uncertainty and unprecedented challenges.’
Other notable HR trends from 2020/2021 highlighted in the GEI report include:
Formed in 2010, the IBA GEI aims to develop a global and strategic approach to the core legal issues involved in human resources, with a focus on employment, discrimination and immigration laws. The annual reports are designed to enhance the management, performance and productivity of organisations and help them to achieve best practice in their human capital and management functions. Since its establishment, the GEI has published a number of topical reports including Global Best Practices for Conducting Internal Investigations in 2021 and The On-Demand Economy in 2019.
Notes to the Editor
The IBA acts as a connector, enabler, and influencer, for fair practice and accountability worldwide. The IBA has collaborated on a broad range of ground-breaking, international projects with the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, The Commonwealth, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, among others.
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