Chambers Guide 2022

The new Chambers Employment 2022 Global Practice eGuide is now out in electronic format. Below we have taken their own description of the guide as a taster.

Credit: Chambers Employment

The late Professor Roger Blanpain consistently started his courses on employment law at the University of Leuven with the statement “labour relations are relations of power”.

In such relations between two parties, one party is always the stronger and the other, the weaker. In employment relations the employer, giving work, is the stronger party, with the employee, rendering services against remuneration, being the weaker party.

The Role of Employment Law

Employment law is designed as the instrument to protect the weaker party against the (arbitrary discretion of the) stronger party. At first, this protection focused essentially on the individual relationship, but early 20th-century focus also started to switch to the collective relationship: union representation of employees, co-determination, etc.

Employment laws as national laws

Employment laws are, almost by definition, national laws: their scope of application is defined by the national borders. Consequently, they may differ distinctly from one country to another, from one culture to another. One legal scholar found that, “at the risk of over-simplifying often complex realities […] a distinction can be drawn between the European and the Anglo-Saxon models of labour laws”. He established that the European model framing employee protection takes an approach that is driven by “individual rights”, whereas the Anglo-Saxon model rather “seeks to address the problem associated with the lack of individual bargaining equality at a higher, viz collective, level”.

The different approach based on national culture and heritage is also apparent in a combined market such as the EU. Although the EU is competent to impose social principles throughout the EU, it is always up to the individual member states to implement these principles in their national law. This often results in different practical implementations in local laws, such as the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) or TUPE Directive.

International perspective

In a world that has become much more global, where cross-border relationships, acquisitions, etc, have become standard practice, it is crucial to have sufficient insight into local employment laws that can have an impact on the global situation.

That is why a comparative view of the local employment laws is essential in international relations. The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the fact that knowledge of one’s own local laws is not enough to manage globalised employee-employer relationships. Although this pandemic has affected the whole world since March 2020, legal initiatives in response to it were mainly taken at the local level. This resulted in a variety of measures which proved to be quite distinctive and sometimes contradictory, country by country. A clear example was Sweden, which originally focused on collective immunity and did not enact restrictive measures (like closures of shops, lockdown, etc), compared to countries like France and Spain which implemented very strict lockdown rules.

The Legacy of COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis also resulted in a large number of drastic innovations in the employment market like working from home, video-conferences, etc. These innovations have now become part of our employment environment and are expected to stay. Also, in this respect, we have noted that each country has regulated these new social instruments in their own way based on national culture and heritage (eg, the prohibition in France for employees to consult emails, etc, beyond regular working hours).

Global Issues

This guide, using an outline template review country by country, spread across the globe, describes the nature and scope of the legal framework governing the employment relationship. The outline covers not just the typical topics for employment professionals – such as wages, benefits and health-benefit laws – but also regulations more broadly affecting organisations, such as union organisation, immigration, data privacy and retaliation restrictions and anti-discrimination rules in the workplace.

The full downloads are here and will continue to be available here in our downloads section.:

Chambers Guide 2022

Full Employment Book in electronic format