The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing companies to re-examine their work from home or remote work policies. There is no one size fits all plan. Many companies have moved rapidly to a remote workforce during the pandemic, often with employees relocating to (or been stranded in) locations outside of their normal worksites. For some, remote work
We are please to share with you The Global Employer – Global Immigration & Mobility Quarterly Update which is a collection of immigration and mobility alerts from around the world.
Please click here to view.
Join us for Part 3 of our webinar series on the USMCA, as we approach entry-into-force of the agreement on July 1, 2020. In this webinar, “USMCA: Labor Rules and Trade Remedies,” Baker McKenzie experts from the United States, Mexico and Canada will discuss how to prepare for enforcement under the Rapid Response…
We hope you found our first three weeks of video chats to be helpful and informative. Due to popular demand, we are continuing this series of quick and bite-sized video chats, where our employment partners team up with practitioners in various areas of law to discuss the most pressing issues for employers navigating the return…
With special thanks to our Australian colleagues Michael Michalandos and Carmel Foley for this post.
This briefing contains a summary of everything an employer in Australian needs to know about the operation of the award system.
Why this is important?
We have prepared this briefing because there has been a high incidence of employers in the information technology industry failing to have regard to the application of modern awards in their workforce or misunderstanding how these awards operate. In particular, many employers have issued employment contracts which do not identify the applicable award and do not contain provisions which comply with the award.
This may result in a potentially serious compliance issue which could cost the business a significant amount of money in terms of back-payments, penalties, and potential reputational damage.
What is an award?
Modern awards (or, simply, “awards”) are industrial instruments created by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) that set and regulate minimum terms and conditions of employment for certain employees in Australia. Currently, there are 122 awards and almost all businesses in Australia will employ award-covered employees. Awards operate in a similar way to legislation and their application can only be circumvented in very limited circumstances.
Who do awards cover?
Awards generally fall into one of two categories: “industry awards” or “occupational awards.” Some awards apply on both an industry and occupational basis, for example the Professional Employees Award 2010 (Professional Employees Award) which, for example, covers engineers on an occupational basis but also covers employers operating in the “information technology industry” (as defined) on an industry basis.
As the COVID-19 pandemic stretched across the globe, companies shifted to remote working environments and many reduced staff, all without much of an opportunity to prepare. The past two months have presented a serious threat to data security, including the most vulnerable financial data, personal data of employees and customers, and trade secrets. These risks cut across all sectors — financial services, industrial manufacturers, health care, and professional services. Recent experience confirms that an effective information security strategy should target these most-common threats: phishing, data sprawl, and employee mobility/redundancies.
How to Protect Your Company
Take a holistic approach to threat mitigation and data loss prevention in the face of increased risks. Such an approach must account for data protection, intellectual property (including trade secrets), and employment law. Here are the action items in these uncertain times to help address and mitigate the legal and regulatory risks:
The way we work has been permanently transformed by the rapid deployment of a largely remote workforce during the shelter-in-place. Threats to companies’ most valuable confidential data have not merely increased — an entirely new set of legal and technical risks to trade secrets have emerged over the last 90 days that are fundamentally different…
We are pleased to announce a new Global TMT Industry Podcast has been released that provides insights into how different technology companies handle the requirements and adjustments that inevitably come with the worldwide quarantine and the work-from-home dynamics that currently define our new normal. This episode of TMT Talk also looks into the future of…
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a rapid, severe, and unprecedented disruption to the movement of workers around the globe. In an effort to impede the spread, many governments have implemented travel and immigration restrictions that have impacted visa processing, work authorization, and cross-border entry for foreign nationals employed by multinational companies.
In order to allow…
Companies are permitting (or requiring) employees to work remotely right now in response to COVID-19 concerns. This decision, calculated to minimize certain risks, presents new and wide-ranging concerns for the protection of trade secrets. In this “temporary” working remotely environment, employees will have considerable opportunity to access, download, or store sensitive information from company systems and databases. Have you vetted these circumstances or otherwise addressed their use? Think – home printers? Cell phones? Tablets? Personal email accounts? Working in public places such as libraries and coffee shops? Companies may also be inclined to relax otherwise well thought out document management rules or allow for workarounds from the usual security measures in the interest of business continuity. In such an environment, employees may make assumptions that they have wider latitude to email, copy, send, print, or download information, given the circumstances. Compounding these insider risks are a series of unknowns, such as whether your employees’ home networks have security anywhere near on par with in-office network security that could allow outsiders to intrude or access data.
Trade secret litigation has grown exponentially in the United States, in part due to the passage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (18 U.S.C. § 1836, et seq.) in 2016, and in response to the incredible value embodied in companies’ customer lists, knowhow, processes, formulas, business strategies, salary structures, and numerous other forms of intellectual property. If information is valuable, kept secret, and derives value from its secrecy, then it can be a protectable trade secret — as long as the company puts in place reasonable measures to maintain the secrecy.
Whether your company has a sophisticated trade secret protection plan in place or not, the current work environment will stress policies and procedures. Employees pose the biggest threat to securing a company’s valuable IP, and several remote-working concerns raise long-term policy questions to be addressed over time. But, the action items can’t all wait until a calmer moment. Consider the following immediate steps as your company reacts to recent events.
1. Communicate current obligations and requirements in the remote working environment
If you have a robust work-from-home policy, review it now with a specific focus on maintaining your company’s most valuable secrets. If you do not have such a policy, implement something immediately, even if it is temporary. Set clear expectations on what information the business considers to be confidential or trade secrets and what particular steps employees are required to follow when using or accessing that information. Not only does it make business sense to keep employees on notice of company policies and procedures, but federal case law under the DTSA has made clear that employees can only be held to trade secret obligations where they are specific and clear, such that employees are “on notice” of the trade secrets.…
Continue Reading Keep Trade Secret Protections Top Of Mind While You Deploy Remote Working