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USA: H-1B Visa Executive Order

The Order, signed on April 18, 2017, at Snap-On Tools in Wisconsin, directs the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Labor, and State to crack down on fraud and abuse in the immigration system, across the board, to create higher wages and rates of employment for U.S. workers.

The Order requires the departments to make proposals on what can be done to achieve the goals of ensuring that:

  • American workers are protected,
  • H-1B visas are going only to the most highly skilled workers, and
  • American workers are not replaced by “cheap labor” from abroad.

Like various reform bills pending in Congress, the focus is on the perceived abuses of outsourcing firms.
Some necessary reforms envisioned in the Order will have to be legislative, but others can be accomplished administratively, including:

  • Increases in fees for H-1B visa petitions;
  • Changes to the wage scale to institute higher prevailing wage requirements;
  • Greater focus on enforcement against gross and egregious law violations; and
  • Adjusting the lottery system to give Master’s degree holders priority.

Indeed, some changes in this direction already have been made. The DHS had announced that it will be targeting outsourcing firms with more unannounced site visits to H-1B dependent employers. It also will target outsourcing firms in adjudications by considering whether employees classified as computer programmers really are eligible for H-1B status.

President Trump has stated that he would like eliminate the random lottery system altogether. Instead, H-1B visas would be awarded to the “most skilled or highest paid” applicants. This sort of priority system has been suggested by Senators Dick Durbin and Chuck Grassley in their bipartisan bill, the “H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act.” The Durbin-Grassley system would prioritize workers with the highest wages and advanced U.S. STEM degrees. The Administration would see this type of reform as an “elegant way of solving the problem” of outsourcing.

A White House background briefing says there is a “great appetite in [the] departments and agencies to get to work on closing loopholes, shoring up [the H-1B] program, [and] dealing with long-running abuses.” While there is no specific timetable set for the reports and reforms, the expectation is that things will start to happen soon.

http://www.jacksonlewis.com/publication/h-1b-visa-executive-order

For more information, please contact Jackson Lewis P.C. our member firm in this country.

UK: Gender Pay

The Government has now set up a ‘beta’ version of the website on which employers’ gender pay gap information should be published, allowing employers and employees alike to compare gender pay gap information with competitors. A few employers have already posted their figures. The first deadline for publishing gender pay gap reports is 4 April 2018.

For more information, please contact L&E Global.

France: The ban on vaping in certain workplaces will come into force on October 1, 2017.

The use of the electronic cigarette (vaping) in premises with workstations, closed and covered and used for collective use, shall be prohibited as from 1 October 2017. It will therefore be prohibited to vaporize in common areas, but not in individual offices, and the ban should not apply in workplaces that are open to the public, such as cafés, restaurants, hotels,… The employer must put in place an apparent signage reminding the prohibition of vaping. Failing this, a penalty may be imposed. The act of smoking electronic cigarettes in the workplace in violation of the prohibition is also sanctioned by a fine.

For more information, please contact Flichy Grangé Avocats our member firm in this country.

Canada: Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board approves new Premium Rate Framework.

In November 2016, the Board of Directors of Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (the “WSIB”) approved a new premium rate framework (the “Framework”) that is expected to come into effect in January 2019. The changes have been proposed to address the “fundamental challenges to the WSIB’s current classification and premium rate setting approach” that have been identified by the WSIB and its stakeholders. The Framework will have significant implications for employers with respect to how premiums are calculated. Employers will be classified differently in an effort to create a structure that is simple and understandable.  One of the most significant changes relates to an employer’s experience rating. Currently, an accident or injury affects an employer’s premiums for a period of four years. Under the Framework, accidents or injuries will affect an employer’s premiums for a period of six years. Although the Framework has been approved, the WSIB has indicated that the plan is flexible, adaptable and will be responsive to further stakeholder engagement.

For more information, please contact Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti our member firm in this country.

UK: Apprenticeship Levy begins

Companies with a wage bill of over £3 million (or that are connected to other companies or agencies that together have a total annual pay bill of more than £3 million) will now have to pay a 0.5% payroll tax, which is to be used for investment in training for apprentices. The levy must be reported and paid to HMRC through the employment tax (PAYE) process. Records of information used to calculate the levy must be kept for at least 3 years. Employers in England will then be able to access funding through a new digital apprenticeship service account, available after their final declaration to HMRC after 22 May 2017. The funding can be used towards funding training and post apprenticeship vacancies. The Government also automatically adds 10% to the funds in the digital apprenticeship service account on a monthly basis. Funds that are not used expire after 24 months of entering the employer’s account. The plan is to give all employers access to the account service by 2020.

For more information, please contact L&E Global.

USA: President Trump Signs Legislation and Issues Order Ending Obama-Era Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order

The nearly three-year journey of Executive Order 13673: Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces, which President Barack Obama signed in July 2014, is officially over. Federal contractors will not be required to report alleged labor violations to federal agencies as part of the bid process or implement measures to foster pay transparency. They also will not be prohibited from entering into mandatory arbitration agreements concerning employee Title VII claims.

President Donald Trump signed into law H.J. Resolution 37, which “disapproves” the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council regulations implementing the Executive Order, on March 27, 2017. To seal the deal, Trump also signed his own Executive Order revoking the Obama-era Order, known as the “Blacklisting” Executive Order. Trump’s Order directs the Department of Labor and other executive agencies to “consider promptly rescinding any orders, rules, regulations, guidance, guidelines, or policies implementing or enforcing the revoked Executive Orders.” This spells the end for the Executive Order as well as the DOL Guidance and the FAR implementing provisions.

For additional information, see http://www.jacksonlewis.com/publication/trump-signs-legislation-and-issues-order-ending-obama-era-fair-pay-and-safe-workplaces-executive-order.

For more information, please contact Jackson Lewis P.C. our member firm in this country.

Canada: Federal Government announces extension to parental leave

In its March 2017 Federal Budget, the Government of Canada addressed Employment Insurance (“EI”) Parental Leave and Maternity Leave Benefits.

The good news for pregnant women is that the number of weeks for which they can claim EI Maternity Benefits before their due date could be bumped up to twelve (12) weeks from the current eight (8).

The Budget also proposes to allow parents to choose to receive EI Parental Benefits for a period of up to 18 months instead of the 12 months presently available. While this sounds positive, there is a catch. Currently, EI Parental Benefits are available to employees while off work at a rate of 55% of the employee’s average weekly earnings. The proposed changes would reduce that rate to 33% of average weekly earnings.

So, while these changes would see benefits extended over a longer period of time, individuals would receive a lower rate of compensation over the entire 18-month period.

It remains to be seen how many people will be able to take advantage of the extended period of leave given that no additional compensation will be available.

Notably, the Government of Canada is proposing amendments to the Employment Insurance Act and the Canada Labour Code to reflect these changes. It is not yet clear whether there will be any corresponding changes to the job-protected leaves available provincially.

For more information, please contact Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti our member firm in this country.

India: The Ease of Compliance to Maintain Registers under the Various Labour Laws Rules, 2017 has been notified.

The Ease of Compliance Rules prescribe the following consolidated registers that are to be maintained by employers: (a) Employee Register; (b) Wage Register; (c) Register of Loans and Recoveries; (d) Attendance Register; and (e) Register of Rest/Leave/Leave Wages (to be maintained under the Mines Act, 1952, Sales Promotion Employees (Conditions of Service) Act, 1976 and Working Journalists and Other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955). This is a welcome step from the Government as not only would we save paper from the perspective of the environment, India would be viewed as a country where compliance of laws is manageable and not cumbersome, therefore, having a direct impact on the ease of doing business in the country.

For more information, please contact IndusLaw our affiliated member firm in this country.

Employment Law Observations in Russia

The Results Of Press-Conference With The Head Of The Federal Agency Of Labor And Employment: As a result of a press-conference with the Head of the Federal Agency of Labor and Employment (Rostrud) on the 9th of February, 2017 it was concluded: 1) the Government sets a task to introduce modern methods for organizing labor control and supervision, 2) Russia should develop the quality of checks of labor inspectors. These changes may be due to the introduction of checklists: it is planned to have a fixed number of requirements and questions that will be checked by labor inspectors during examination of companies.

Matters Of The Session “Labor Relations In The Digital Economy” In The Russian Investment Forum “Sochi-2017”: On February 27, within the Russian Investment Forum, representatives of a number of ministries and departments, trade unions, educational institutions and businesses discussed how to find a compromise between the protection of workers’ rights and the development of the economy in the digital era. The Head of the Federal Agency of Labor and Employment noted that if there was a register of contracts, the documentary verification would be possible without participation of officials. Chairman of the Social Insurance Fund Andrei Kigim said that he supports the ideology of synchronous payment: the process of payment to social security funds and payment of wages, so that banks do not miss one payment without another. In turn, the Director of the Department of the Ministry of Economic Maxim Parshin suggested that the electronic form of the employment contract can be done in a unified environment on the website “Work in Russia”.

For more information, please contact L&E Global.

Canada: Ontario Introduces Three Year Anti-Racism Strategic Plan

On March 7, 2017, the Government of Ontario released a three-year anti-racism strategic plan (the “Strategic Plan”). The Strategic Plan seeks to break down barriers for racialized people across Ontario, including Black, Indigenous and other racialized communities. While no related legislation has yet been introduced, the Strategic Plan notes that the Government of Ontario plans to introduce anti-racism legislation in the Spring of 2017 to “provide a framework for government and organizations to identify and combat systemic racism.”

For more information, please contact Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti our member firm in this country.