Luxembourg Transposes EU Whistleblower Protection Law

On January 12, 2022, Luxembourg’s Minister of Justice submitted to the country’s legislature Bill 7945, which transposes Directive (EU) 2019/1937, otherwise known as the Whistleblower Protection Directive (“Directive”). The official deadline for EU member states to transpose the Directive into national law was December 17, 2021, however, nearly every state, including Luxembourg, failed to meet this deadline. Now that Bill 7945 has been presented to the legislature, experts will review it and compare the legislation against the requirements of the Directive. Given the expiration of the deadline for transposition in December, the legislature is expected to act quickly in passing Bill 7945 into law, so as to avoid the European Commission taking legal action for non-implementation.

Bill 7945 provides a framework to protect individuals who have obtained information in the work context about acts or omissions that violate national law or are against the public interest, and report protected information in any of the manners proscribed by the draft law. Specifically, Bill 7945 protects reports made by current and former employees, prospective employees, volunteers, trainees, self-employed individuals, shareholders, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers. To be protected under the draft law, individuals must have reasonable grounds to believe the information they report is true and that it falls within the scope of the measure. The measure prohibits retaliation against individuals based on them reporting protected information in accordance with the draft law’s provisions.

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France Requires Proof of Vaccination for Entry into Certain Public Places

On January 21, 2022, France’s Constitutional Council approved a law requiring individuals who are 16 or older to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (a “vaccine pass”) before entering certain public places, such as restaurants, bars, and stores. The law also permits business owners to check a customer’s vaccine pass against the customer’s identification documents where they have good reason to suspect that the vaccine pass being shown does not genuinely belong to the customer presenting it.

Currently, individuals in France are required to present proof of vaccination or of a negative test result to enter public venues. Under the new law, which will take effect on January 24, 2021, a negative test result will no longer be accepted.

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UAE’s New, Shorter Workweek Becomes Effective in 2022

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.

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Germany Restricts Access to Non-Essential Businesses for Unvaccinated Individuals

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.

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Portugal Responds to Work from Home by Prohibiting Bosses from Texting After-Hours

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.

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Possible Changes to Employment Law on the Horizon in Ontario

On October 25, 2021, Ontario’s government introduced the Working for Workers Act, 2021 (the Act), which, if passed, would amend certain aspects of the Employment Standards Act, 2020 and other laws impacting employment practices in the province.

“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.”

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