New Changes in International Labor Laws and Rights

New Changes in International Labor Laws and Rights

10 August 2017

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Recruiters for international corporations have the unenviable task of keeping abreast of labor laws that change almost hourly in a shifting political climate. That is the bad news. The good news is that awareness of these changes, even negative changes, can be an asset to smart recruiters.

It can be tempting to steer companies away from countries that appear to be restricting labor rights or crushing unions, but those same repressive laws open up new areas for corporate access. Merely because repressive regimes are enacting laws does not mean the people and businesses are happy about it. Good recruiters can use these opportunities to place the right people in advantageous positions to the benefit of their companies and the country.

  • Brazil's Senate approved a set of labor "reforms" intended to strip away unemployment insurance, extend working hours, and reduce vacation time for Brazil's workers. The bill is a part of President Temer's governmental platform, and requires a signature to become law. Already there is a growing legal opposition, support for Brazil's labor unions, and wide-spread concern over the impact this will have on the fight against Brazil's slave labor problem.
  • Incoming, energetic, and popular, French President Macron has vowed to tackle the huge crumbling edifice that is France's Code du Travail, the ancient labor code that has so many protections and is understood by so few—yet so revered—almost nothing can be done to it without arousing violent protests in the streets. Although France's laws heavily protect workers, they also strangle business expansion, so Macron's promised reforms bear watching.
  • United States. The political turmoil that has engulfed America these past six months has been a boon for union-busters, and a nightmare for labor. United Auto Workers, one of the oldest unions in the U.S., has lost ground in key states, even as auto plants grapple with President Trump's command to keep jobs in America. Meanwhile, Trump's immigration reforms appear poised to block H1B visas and legal immigration at a time when skilled labor is needed in America more than ever.

These new changes are daunting to recruiters, but can be leveraged to good advantage by recruiters who know what companies and workers in these countries need. It behooves a company to be completely open when discussing their needs with recruiters, so that a good fit can be made. Likewise, a good recruiter needs to spend the time researching not only the corporate culture, but the social makeup of the country, before placing new talent in a company.

In Brazil, for instance, a company needs people who can navigate the delicate ground between a government which has its reasons for removing insurance and vacation time—which seems so terrible to outsiders—and a company which offers such routine perks as a hiring incentive. Legal experts will be essential as the tension in Brazil mounts.

As Macron tackles the legal and logistical edifice of France's Code du Travail, support for smaller businesses and corporations is going to be essential, as they are the ones most impacted by the Byzantine demands of the Code. Any investors and agencies that provide assistance to small businesses will find these areas rich with opportunity.

Recruiters should keep in mind that the shifting political climate in more volatile regions, such as the Middle East, South America, and the Baltic, make it superficially attractive to avoid those areas. Why place someone in a war zone when there are jobs elsewhere? This does a disservice to the companies there, and to potential employees. Good research, good interviewing, and careful planning can ensure proper placement of outstanding people in the right place for the right job.

The Network Editorial Team

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Antoine Herve
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