Baker McKenzie partner Susan Eandi introduces Rowan McKenzie to discuss  employment laws in Hong Kong and give an overview of what changed in 2017, as well as what we can expect in 2018.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Increase in minimum wage – came through in May 2017
  2. Be aware of what right to reinstatement may end up looking like
  3. Cognizant of potential changes in work hours and overtime for low wage earners
  4. Abolition of the Mandatory Provident Fund offset upon termination and any potential relief that may be provided to employers
  5. Staying ahead of potential changes to immigration policy

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Baker McKenzie partner Susan Eandi introduces Chris Burkett from Toronto to talk about employment laws in Canada and give an overview of what’s changed in 2017 as well as what we can expect in 2018.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Employers must review their workplace health and safety policies to ensure that anti-harassment polices are up to date and that training is in place, particularly around sexual harassment.
  2. Review termination clauses in employment agreements to ensure compliance with ESA and clarity of language and intent.
  3. Implement the minimum wage and equal pay obligations that are now in force.
  4. Be proactive in managing the use of cannabis in the workplace, particularly where accommodation requests come into play.
  5. Prepare for expanding supply chain + ESG transparency and global corporate human rights obligations. If operating globally, ensure you have a policy and due diligence program in place to mitigate adverse human rights impacts and lower risk of exposure to human rights lawsuits and reputational damage.

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The NLRB’s roller coaster ride that is its joint employer standard took another sharp turn Monday, when the Board unanimously agreed to vacate its recent employer-friendly joint employer decision and to restore the joint employer standard adopted in Browning-Ferris.

Continue Reading NLRB Vacates Employer-Friendly Joint Employer Decision Over Conflict Of Interest Concerns

On February 8, 2018, in what is believed to be the first time a gig economy case has been fully decided on the merits, a California federal judge ruled in favored in favor of the company and held that the delivery driver was properly classified as an independent contractor.

The opinion of US Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley states that “[a]fter considering all of the Borello factors as a whole in light of the trial record, the Court finds that Grubhub has satisfied its burden of showing that Mr. Lawson was properly classified as an independent contractor.”

In rejecting the driver’s claim that he was actually an employee entitled to minimum wage, overtime and other benefits associated with employee status, the Court awarded the gig economy a significant victory.

Continue Reading Score One For The Gig Economy: California Federal Judge Upholds Independent Contractor Status Of Grubhub Delivery Driver

In our latest podcast, Baker McKenzie partner Joe Deng introduces Tomohisa Muranushi to discuss employment laws in Japan and give an overview of what changed in 2017 as well as what we can expect for the year ahead.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Reduce excessive overtime
  2. Encourage greater female participation
  3. Watch out for developments regarding fixed term contracts

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We are pleased to report that a California federal judge put to rest claims by a proposed class of Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. workers that they weren’t given adequate meal breaks and rest periods, saying the company was exempted from liability by a valid collective bargaining agreement.

In reconsidering a portion of his November ruling that granted the construction and engineering services provider partial summary judgment over various wage and hour claims brought by lead plaintiff Peter Zayerz under the California Labor Code, Judge Gutierrez acknowledged he had mistakenly failed to consider in his earlier decision whether the company was exempt from liability for the meal and rest period claims by a collective bargaining agreement that was in place between 2012 and 2015, the time period in which Zayerz’s claims arose.

“The court concedes that it failed to consider a material issue of law in its prior order, namely that the governing CBA exempts defendant from liability under the labor code for the meal and rest period claims,” Judge Gutierrez said.

With that, Judge Gutierrez awarded Kiewit summary judgment on all remaining claims and closed the case. Kiewit is represented by our own Arthur J. Rooney, Todd K. Boyer, Benjamin R. Buchwalter, Alexis Hawley and Melissa Logan.

The case is Peter Zayerz v. Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. et al., case number 2:16-cv-06405, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Find the write-up in Law360 HERE.

On December 22, 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law bringing significant changes to US tax law. One provision of the Act may further incentivize individuals to work as independent contractors instead of as traditional employees.

The new provision allows for independent contractors, and for service providers structured as a partnership or other flow-through entities, the potential to deduct up to 20% of their revenue from their taxable income. And while some companies might view the opportunity to re-classify individuals from employees to independent contractors as a “win–win” scenario, it could create substantial legal exposure for employers.

Continue Reading New Tax Law Could Incentivize Employees To Become Independent Contractors – Employers Should Proceed With Caution

Michael Brewer has joined Baker McKenzie as a Partner in its North America Employment & Compensation Practice, bringing more than 17 years of experience in a range of employment litigation and counseling matters.

Based in San Francisco, Michael defends employers facing wage and hour class and collective actions, alleged harassment, discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination and other employment-related claims. He has litigated more than 500 employment lawsuits to conclusion. Companies frequently call upon Michael to step into difficult cases even when handled by other firms. Michael has served as lead trial counsel on state and federal multi-district class actions as well as single-plaintiff cases throughout California. He has significant trial experience, and routinely counsels clients on the handling of termination and discipline decisions, workplace accommodation issues, litigation avoidance and all aspects of personnel management.

“Employment litigation and counseling is a key area of focus for many of our clients in California and throughout the US,” said George Avraam, Chair of the Firm’s North America Employment & Compensation Practice. “Michael’s extensive trial and appellate experience, covering a range of employment issues, will be a tremendous asset to our clients as they look for pragmatic, business-minded advice.”

Continue Reading Highly Regarded Employment Litigator Michael Brewer Joins Baker McKenzie

On January 5, 2018, the Department of Labor did away with its previous six-factor test and announced a new “primary beneficiary” test to determine whether interns and students working for “for-profit” employers are entitled to minimum wages and overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employers are required to pay employees for their work, but in some circumstances, interns may not actually be employees under the FLSA, and therefore, can be unpaid. The DOL stated that the new test “allows increased flexibility to holistically analyze internships on a case-by-case basis.”

The new “primary beneficiary” test looks at whether the intern or the employer is the primary beneficiary of the relationship. Several circuit courts, including the Second and Ninth, have previously favored the “primary beneficiary” test, viewing it as being more up to date and aligned with the underlying purpose of an unpaid internship.

Continue Reading DOL Approves New Test For Unpaid Interns Offering The Potential Of Increased Flexibility For Employers