All companies with distributed teams are weary of staying on the right side of local employment laws. While there are international standards, national and local regulations vary greatly and remote employers have to contend with a whole range of these. Compliance is always an issue and remote companies are always on the lookout to mitigate their risk.
But some global employment laws and regulations are extremely regionally or culturally specific. We’ve found some of the quirkier ones for you to take note of when employing globally. While they may not apply to your employees specifically, they signal national programmes and trends in particular locations that are affecting wider employment practices.
The Metabo Law was introduced in 2008 in Japan to combat nation-wide obesity. The employment law stipulates that all companies and local governments have to measure the waistlines of employees aged 44 to 74 during annual health checkups. That means that roughly 44% of the population have their waistlines measured every year. Women’s waistlines can measure up to 35.4 inches and men’s waistlines can measure up to 33.5 inches. Employees whose waist sizes are over these limits are required to lose the excess weight within a given period. Companies are required to provide weight loss classes through their healthcare providers for employees who cannot lose the weight on their own. The government also imposes fines on local governments and companies who do not meet specified targets.
As of 2016, government employees in the UAE are offered time off to read during work. Readings are limited to material on personal and professional development while at work. This is part of a national programme to encourage reading. Coffee shops are obliged to provide reading material. Children are also provided with reading materials at birth and at the ages of 1 and 2.
Though not strictly a law, inemuri is commonly understood as sleeping in public in Japan. This includes falling asleep at work. Due to long working hours, falling asleep on public transport and offices is common and tolerated. But inemuri is different from actually sleeping or napping, in that it requires a certain degree of presence of the employee. As such, the social situation and space in which they are in shouldn’t be disturbed. Hence employees can’t simply fall asleep at their desks, but must at least remain upright. Many companies are leaning in to the need for day-time sleep and providing employees with designated space for hirune - napping.
Belgian employment law allows employees to take longer periods of time off from work. They are entitled to up to one year of ‘time credit’ in their working lives. What’s more, the year does not have to be taken at once, but can be split up into many periods of leave. Time credit is separate from other kinds of leave. Employees will be paid their normal salary during career breaks.
Since 2017, employees in France can exercise a right to log off from electronic devices or applications during weekends and days off. Companies with over 50 employees must implement rules to regulate the use of work-related devices during rest periods. This is to ensure that employees are actually getting time off from work. The right to log off will likely extend to employment regulations outside of France also, as we have recently seen in Russia’s new regulation on remote working.
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