Employment law around Asia Pacific

by Tammy Buckley20 May 2014
Australian employment law has seen a number of changes come into effect this year and several more are on the horizon. The new anti-bullying laws came into effect January 1, which enabled workers to seek orders from the Fair Work Commission to stop workplace bullying. From the same date amendments to the Fair Work Act (FW Act) altered the consultation terms in awards and enterprise agreements to provide for consultation in relation to change in rosters or working hours that do not otherwise amount to a "major workplace change". The timeframe for making an unlawful termination claim under the FW Act was also reduced from January 1 from 60 days to 21 days.
According to law firm Simpson Grierson’s First Quarter 2014 Asia Employment Law: Quarterly Review some of our neighbouring countries have been just as busy when it comes developments in employment legislation.

New Zealand
It’s shaping up to be a year of change in New Zealand employment law with the Health and Safety Reform Bill currently making its way through parliament. Also going through that process is the Employment Relations Amendment Bill, which will change the way unions can negotiate and how strikes can be carried out. The Health and Safety Reform Bill also aims to replicate the Australian system for workplace health and safety.

Hong Kong
Along with reviewing the minimum wage Hong Kong lawmakers are currently looking to update their Paternity Leave legislation.  The draft legislation would see every male employee who is employed under a “continuous contract” entitled to three days paternity leave where he is identified as the father. The days can be taken consecutively or separately.

The country’s Discrimination Law is also under review with substantive changes expected. A public consultation is expected to be launched later this year.

In December last year the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act 2013 came into effect. Some of the significant obligations under the Act are that all employers are required to set up an internal complaints committee at each of their offices and must also have a policy on sexual harassment; they must treat sexual harassment as a misconduct, take appropriate actions in response to such misconduct; and undertake workshops and training programmes at regular intervals to raise awareness of sexual harassment.

Japan has also made changes to tighten prohibitions on sexual discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace. Amendments to the Ordinance for Enforcement of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act come into force on July 1 and will prohibit employers from unreasonably requiring job applicants or employees to accept potential internal transfers involving relocation as a condition for employment (These conditions were occasionally used to discriminate against or harass female workers who are considered to have less flexibility in relocating than male workers).

The government of Singapore’s employment law changes started with the Employment, Parental Leave and Other Measures Bill 2013 in November last year. The changes extend better protection for more workers and improve employment standards including protecting employees from excessive pay cuts. In January changes were made to the Workplace Safety and Health Incident Reporting Requirements to require all employers to report to the Ministry of Manpower all accidents that render their employees unfit for work for more than three days cumulatively (previously they only had to report accidents that left an employee unfit for more for more than three consecutive days.

South Korea
January saw a number of new laws come into place in South Korea. A higher minimum wage was introduced and a regulation came into force that if any day Of the Lunar New Year’s Holidays or Chuseok Holidays falls on another public holiday the first following non-holiday will be a substitute holiday.
Measures were also introduced requiring employers to go through training to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace.

To read the full report and updates on other countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, and China click here.


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