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Italian Labor Courts Admit “WhatsApp” Dismissals

The Italian Labor Court of Catania (the “Sicilian Court”), with its recent decision of 27 June 2017, ruled for the first time in Italy that employers may notify employees of their dismissals through WhatsApp (a ubiquitous smartphone texting application).   WhatsApp messages are now valid and legally equivalent to the traditional – and mandatory – “written notice of dismissal”.

Because WhatsApp messages show the actual date and time of receipt (“grey double check” and “blue double check” protocols), the applicable Italian legal requirements for judicial evidence are duly satisfied with this more contemporary means of electronic communication.

The Sicilian Court declared it irrelevant whether or not the employer or one of its agents sends the dismissal message because Italian corporate rules allow the principal to ratify – with retroactive effect – an agent’s deed of dismissal sent on its behalf (the company’s technical director, in the case at issue).

The Sicilian

Tips For Drafting Employee Handbooks – Tip #3: Avoiding Breach of Contract Claims

This article is part three in a six-part series.  The purpose of this series is to provide tips and identify potential pitfalls associated with the drafting of an employee handbook.

While an employee handbook serves many functions, its primary purpose from a legal standpoint is to reduce potential liability with respect to claims brought by current and former employees.  Unfortunately, many employers are unwilling to commit the time and bear the expense of implementing an employee handbook (or updating an existing handbook) until after they have been sued and the absence (or poor draftsmanship) of a particular written policy has crippled their defense to an employment claim.  Tip #3 explains how including certain language in an employee handbook may help an employer to defend breach of contract claims.

Tip #3: Avoiding Breach of Contract Claims

It is not difficult to form a common law contract.  Typically, all that is needed

NYC Employers Beware: Asking About Applicants’ Salary History Now Prohibited by Law

Beginning October 31, 2017, employers in New York City will be prohibited from asking job applicants about their previous salary. The legislation is aimed at breaking the cycle of wage inequality affecting women and people of color by requiring employers to base compensation on the applicant’s qualifications, not previous salary.

Which businesses are covered by the law?

Any employer which employs at least one employee in New York City is covered.

What type of job applicants are protected by the law?

All new hires, regardless of whether they are applying for full-time, part-time, or internship positions are covered.  The law does not apply to an employer’s current employees applying for an internal transfer or promotion in the same company.

What is the employer banned from doing?

No Inquiry: Employers may not ask candidates about their salary history (previous salary, benefits, and other types of compensation) at any time in

Germany’s Major Reform on Company Pension – The Company Pension Strengthening Act

October 23, 2017

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It was hard work and in the end a close call.  Up to the very end, it was unclear whether the “Company Pension Strengthening Act” (Betriebsrentenstärkungsgesetz) (“the Act”) would fail or succeed. On January 1 2018, most parts of the Act will come into force. The Act will bring the biggest reform of the company pension landscape in Germany since the enactment of the Company Pension Act (Betriebsrentengesetz) in the mid-70s and since the Pension Fund Law (“Altersvermögensgesetz”) of 2001. The objective of the reform is to strengthen company pensions and to promote further dissemination, especially within small and medium sized companies with respect to employees with low income. Below is a brief overview of the most important aspects of the reform.

Genuine Defined Contribution Plan

The key element of the reform is the recognition of a genuine defined contribution plan (reine Beitragszusage) as company pension promise under the Company

California Bans the Box: Employers Must Review and Update Background Screening Processes

Recently, on October 14, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1008 (“AB 1008”), which adds Government Code Section 12952 into state law.  Among other things, this new provision makes it an unlawful employment practice under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) for a private employer with five (5) or more employees to inquire about or consider a job applicant’s conviction history prior to a conditional offer of employment.  This “ban-the-box” legislation is the latest in a series of initiatives nationwide to ban private employers from inquiring about convictions on an application for employment.   California joins five other states, including Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, and Vermont, in banning private employers’ inquiries regarding convictions prior to a conditional offer of employment.  AB 1008 becomes effective January 1, 2018.

Only Post-Offer Consideration of a Conviction or Specified Arrests is Permissible.  Most dramatically, employers may not ask an applicant about any

California Enacts New Law Expanding Parental Leave to Small Employers

On Thursday, October 12, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that extends twelve weeks of unpaid parental leave to California employees who work for small businesses.  The New Parent Leave Act applies generally to California employers with at least 20 and no more than 49 employees.  The practical effect of the Act is to expand the parental leave required under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to smaller employers.  The new law takes effect on January 1, 2018.

Under the New Parent Leave Act, an employee may take up to twelve weeks of unpaid parental leave within one year of a child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement, so long as the employee (1) works at a location where the employer has at least 20 employees within a 75 mile radius, (2) has at least twelve months of service with

Tips For Drafting Employee Handbooks – Tip #2: The Importance of Equal Employment Opportunity and Harassment Policies

This article is part two in a six-part series.  The purpose of this series is to provide tips and identify potential pitfalls associated with the drafting of an employee handbook.

While an employee handbook serves many functions, its primary purpose from a legal standpoint is to reduce potential liability with respect to claims brought by current and former employees.  Unfortunately, many employers are unwilling to commit the time and bear the expense of implementing an employee handbook (or updating an existing handbook) until after they have been sued and the absence (or poor draftsmanship) of a particular written policy has crippled their defense to an employment claim.  Tip #2 addresses how equal employment opportunity and harassment policies are especially beneficial to include in an employee handbook.

Tip #2: The Importance of Equal Employment Opportunity and Harassment Policies

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that an employer’s implementation of an anti-discrimination/anti-retaliation

Tips For Drafting Employee Handbooks – Tip #1: Determining the Appropriate Scope and Length

While an employee handbook serves many functions, its primary purpose from a legal standpoint is to reduce potential liability with respect to claims brought by current and former employees.  Unfortunately, many employers are unwilling to commit the time and bear the expense of implementing an employee handbook (or updating an existing handbook) until after they have been sued and the absence (or poor draftsmanship) of a particular written policy has crippled their defense to an employment claim.

This article is part one of a six-part series.  The purpose of this series is to provide tips and identify potential pitfalls associated with the drafting of an employee handbook.  Tip #1 examines factors an employer should consider when determining the appropriate scope and length for an employee handbook.

Tip #1: Determining the Appropriate Scope and Length

There are different schools of thought when it comes to deciding what policies to include

Teleworking in Europe and Personal Data Protection

October 11, 2017

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The development of teleworking in Europe has increased the requirement for the protection of personal data. If those two subjects are complementary, they shall not overshadow the other aspects of working relationships’ digitalization.

  • Teleworking Development

Teleworking did not wait for the emergence of the internet to exist but rather has undoubtedly been developed by the combination of the following: the progression in individual technological tools, the individualization of working relationships, and the expansion of urban centers and their resulting congestion.

First, encouraged by employees’ legal claims, companies have organized teleworking through collective agreements and charters (relating to IT or quality of work life), later recognized by trade unions at the European and national level (European framework agreement on telework of 16 July 2002 and the national inter-professional agreement of 19 July 2005). Lawmakers next supervised teleworking through the law of 22 March, 2012, 8 August, 2016 (the work

How much is at stake for whistleblowers?

September 29, 2017

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Whistleblowing and the ongoing compliance debate keep the media and the wider press busy and readers alert. And yet these days, executives of reputed global companies are finding themselves imprisoned for fraud and other compliance violations like never before. Enormous fines and even jail penalties were recently imposed upon global players inside and outside the U.S. and hardly a day goes by without new details being reported. Solid facts about who knew what and gave orders to whom remain nevertheless in a grey zone or even completely unknown. Besides the question of who should be fined or sentenced by public prosecutors, one could ask whether some or all scandals could have been avoided by whistleblowers.

What if employees or line managers had disclosed and reported the ongoing scandals early on — either internally, using whistleblowing hotlines or other compliance schemes, or even, in extreme cases, going public by filing criminal

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