Hot topics – International
New Foreign Investment law for China
In a further focus on foreign investment, the new Foreign Investment Law of the People’s Republic of China, adopted by the National People’s Congress in March 2019, is due to come into force in early 2020.
In this law, the State adopted the management system of pre-establishment national treatment and negative list of foreign investment. It also encourages and guides foreign investors to invest in specific industries, fields and regions.
The State also seeks to protect:
- foreign-funded enterprises’ participation in Government procurement activities through fair competition,
- the intellectual property of foreign investors and foreign-funded enterprises, and
- the investment, earnings and other legitimate rights and interests within China of foreign investors and foreign-funded enterprises.
The new law also establishes a security review system for foreign investment affecting or likely to affect State security.
Cuts on penalty rates for retail employees under the General Retail Industry Award 2010 to continue in Australia
How much should employees be compensated for working on a Sunday or a public holiday as opposed to during the week?
This is the question that the Fair Work Commission recently considered in deciding to cut penalty rates for retail employees paid under the General Retail Industry Award 2010. The decision reflects changing attitudes to weekends and public holidays from sacred to “just another day”. Additionally, it reflects the trend in the Australian retail industry to trade consistently throughout these periods.
The changes are being incrementally introduced, with the first cuts implemented on 1 July 2018. The second and final rounds of cuts will take place on 1 July 2019 and 1 July 2020. Following the recent Federal election in Australia, there is no prospect that these cuts will be stopped or reversed.
Employment law trends in the United States
The latest trend in employment law that is impacting retail employers is predictive scheduling. Several major cities in the U.S. currently have such laws and several state legislatures are proposing to implement them. These laws require employers to provide new employees with a “good faith” written estimate of the minimum number of scheduled shifts they must work. In addition, employees must receive their schedules at a certain time in advance, and the employer is restricted from changing the employees’ schedules without adequate notice. Depending on the jurisdiction, employers may face penalty fees if they don’t properly adhere to these rules.
Additionally, a recent case in California clarifies that employers must pay “reporting time pay” for call-in shifts where employees must call in two hours before a potential shift to learn whether the employee is needed. Previously, this was only required when employees physically came into work.
Website access claims increase in the United States
The number of website accessibility claims filed in the Federal Court under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, jumped by 177% from 2017 to 2018. High numbers of such claims have been filed in several states, with California in the lead at 4,249 in 2018 alone. The increase is continuing in 2019.
There are no formal regulations that set the standard for website accessibility and none are anticipated in the near future. Law firms often send out demand letters that do not include the client’s name or the client’s disability, but instead state generically that the client is vision impaired and simply list “errors” found on a website. If a firm is known for sending out hundreds of these generic letters it may be best to ignore the letter; those who respond may end up paying settlements and while those who do not may be forgotten.
We suggest businesses develop a business-wide strategy in how to deal with such claims. It also makes sense to try to run them in-house, to avoid external legal costs and greater financial demands being made during settlement negotiations (because of a perception that there is a “fighting fund” in place).