The United Arab Emirates rang in 2022 by becoming the first country in the world to adopt a four-and-a-half-day workweek. Effective January 1, 2022, all federal government entities in the country will operate four-and-a-half days per week, with the weekend starting mid-day Friday and lasting through Sunday. Work hours are now 7:30 am to 3:30 pm on Monday through Thursday, and 7:30 am to Noon on Friday. Previously, employees of government entities in the UAE worked a five-day workweek, with a Friday-Saturday weekend.
Germany announced that it will impose new restrictions on individuals who are not vaccinated. Although an official version of the rules has yet to be released, Germany’s government website has provided a summary of the new restrictions.
Based on that summary, individuals who have not been vaccinated are allowed to shop only in grocery stores, pharmacies and drugstores. Only individuals who have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 are allowed to enter all other stores. Restaurants, cinemas, movie theaters, and other “leisure facilities” are limited to vaccinated and recovered individuals as well.
On November 5, 2021, in response to a rise in work from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Portuguese parliament passed a law that prohibits employers from contacting employees outside of work hours. Employers who violate the law’s mandate may face penalties. The law will also require employers to pay cost of increased gas and electricity bills associated with employees working from home.
“Disconnecting From Work”
The Act requires employers with 25 or more employees to have a written policy regarding employees’ “disconnecting from work.” The Act defines “disconnecting from work” to mean “not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work.” In a news release related to the Act, the Ontario government stated that such policies might include, “for example, expectations about response time for emails and encouraging employees to turn on out-of-office notifications when they aren’t working.” The government further stated that the measure is intended to “prioritize[e] workers’ mental health and family time.”
As the global community continues to manage the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic, countries have taken different approaches to addressing COVID-19 vaccinations. As we have discussed, Italy requires both public- and private-sector employees to possess government-issued health passes (i.e., the Green Pass) that demonstrate proof of (i) vaccination, (ii) a recent negative COVID-19 test result or (iii) recovery from COVID-19 in the six months prior to returning to the workplace. Although this measure stops short of requiring private-sector employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, it represents one of the world’s strictest COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
On Friday, October 15, 2021, Italy rolled out one of the world’s strictest COVID-19 requirements. In an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to move beyond the pandemic, Italy required the country’s entire workforce, including both public and private sector employees, to possess a government-issued health pass (i.e., the Green Pass).