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Uniformity in International Labour Law and its effect,post pandemic

The Labour law acts as a tool to promote worker empowerment as well as worker protection. It regulates individual and collective employment relations. Other relevant legislation includes constitutional law, the civil code, the criminal code as well as the supranational ILO Conventions. 

Labour law aims to correct the imbalance of power between the worker and the employer; to prevent the employer from dismissing the worker without good cause; to set up and preserve the processes by which workers are recognized as partners in negotiations about their working conditions etc. 

Labour law aims to prevent a race to the bottom by placing restrictions on the contracting partners’ freedom to contract on whatever terms they wish, and setting minimum standards over safety and pay.

Labour law also regulates the labour market: a country may choose to put legislation in place setting maximum or minimum limits on wages or working hours, either nationally or in particular sectors or industries. 

The major themes in Labour law are the following:

A) Productive Work & Adequate Earnings - Minimum Wage, regular and timely

payment of wages, overtime compensation, compensation for night work, weekend

work and holiday work.

B) Decent Working Hours - Paid annual leave, maximum hours of work (limits on

overtime hours), compensatory holidays for working on weekly/public holidays.

C) Employment Security - Provision of a written statement of particulars at the start of employment, hiring fixed term contract workers for permanent tasks, length of

probation period, notice requirements, severance Pay.

D) Combining Work and Life - Family responsibilities (paternity leave, parental leave,

flex-time options) and maternity protection (maternity leave, free medical care,

salary during leave, exemption from hazardous/arduous work, protection from

dismissal, right to return to same/similar job, nursing/breastfeeding breaks)

E) Safe Working Environment - Health and safety at work (safe workplace, provision of free protective equipment, safety training, labour inspection esp. Occupational

safety and health related)

F) Employment and Sickness/Accidents - Sickness and employment injury (paid sick

leave, access to free medical care, employment security during illness, and work

injury/disability benefit/survivors’ benefits)

G) Social Security – Old - age pensions, invalidity benefit, survivors’ benefit,

unemployment benefit.

H) Equal Treatment at work - Equal pay for work of equal value, sexual harassment

laws, equal treatment in employment and prohibition of discrimination on any

grounds, occupational segregation/right to choose one’s occupation.

I) Children at Work - Minimum age for employment, minimum age for hazardous


J) Forced Labour - Forced labour, worker’s ability to terminate employment, limit to

maximum overtime hours.

K) Social Dialogue/Trade Unions - Right to form and join unions, right to bargain

collectively, and right to strike. 


Information on labour rights is lacking in many economies. Such information gaps may seem convenient for countries with no interest in raising awareness about legislation with the ultimate aim of improving it. The actual victim is the worker who never gets to know about his/her rights. Employers presumably also have no interest in raising a worker’s awareness on labour rights. They might fear that increased compliance leads to heightened cost of doing business.

Taking into account the low level of collective representation of workers (especially in

developing countries) and budget-strapped and understaffed labour inspection systems, workers’ rights can be better enforced through a bottom-up approach – based on individual complaints. This approach however requires dissemination of legal knowledge to workers as a pre-condition, or first step towards compliance with the law. Labour legislation, worldwide, requires employers to display abstracts of labour laws.

Changes to dynamics work and employment have resulted in calls for more sustainable management, procedural control, institutional governance, and political accountability. Against this background, there is renewed attention to regulation, its terms, nature and quality, and its role to shape the employment relationship. An important concern for international and comparative human resource management (I/CHRM) is understanding the role of regulation in interacting with these changes and how this varies across within and between countries. Regulation sits at the centre of competing economic and social demands, which are seen as both complementary and irreconcilable, and its complexity needs to be theorized and empirically mapped. 

In an increasingly globalised world, demands for more sustainable management, procedural control, institutional governance and political accountability have resulted in renewed attention to the regulation of work and employment. 

Covid 19 and life of work after it

There has been quite a change in the global perspectives of employment after the pandemic.

“32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost- saving measure”

A) Increase in remote working  

A recent poll shows that 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19 versus 30% before the pandemic. As organizations shift to more remote work operations, explore the critical competencies employees will need to collaborate digitally, and be prepared to adjust employee experience strategies. Consider whether and how to shift performance goal-setting and employee evaluations for a remote context. 

B) Expanded data collection 

16% of employers are using technologies more frequently to monitor their employees

through methods such as virtual clocking in and out, tracking work computer usage, and monitoring employee emails or internal communications/chat. While some companies track productivity, others monitor employee engagement and well-being to better understand employee experience.

Even before the pandemic, organizations were increasingly using non-traditional employee monitoring tools, but that HR trend will be accelerated by new monitoring of remote workers and the collection of employee health and safety data. Make sure to follow best practices to ensure responsible use of employee information and analytics. 

C) Contingent worker expansion

The economic uncertainty of the pandemic has caused many workers to lose their jobs and exposed others for the first time to nonstandard work models. Many organizations responded to the pandemic economic impact by reducing their contractor budgets, but there has since been a shift.

Organizations will continue to expand their use of contingent workers to maintain more flexibility in workforce management post-COVID-19, and will consider introducing other job models they have seen during the pandemic, such as talent sharing and 80% pay for 80% work.

32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost- saving measure. While gig workers offer employers greater workforce management flexibility, HR leaders will need to evaluate how performance management systems apply to these workers and determine whether they will be eligible for the same benefits as their full-time peers.

D) Expanded employer role as social safety net

The pandemic has increased the trend of employers playing an expanded role in

their employees’ financial, physical and mental well-being. Support includes enhanced sick leave, financial assistance, adjusted hours of operation and child care provisions. Some organizations supported the community by, for instance, shifting operations to manufacturing goods or providing services to help combat the pandemic and offering community relief funds and free community services. 

The current economic crisis has also pushed the bounds of how employers view the

employee experience. Personal factors rather than external factors take precedence over what matters for organizations and employees alike. Employing such measures can be an effective way to promote physical health and improve the emotional well-being of employees. 

E) Separation of critical skills and roles

Before COVID-19, critical roles were viewed as roles with critical skills, or the capabilities an organization needed to meet its strategic goals. Now, employers are realizing that there is another category of critical roles — roles that are critical to the success of essential workflows.

To build the workforce you’ll need post-pandemic, focus less on roles — which group

unrelated skills — than on the skills needed to drive the organization’s competitive

advantage and the workflows that fuel that advantage. Encourage employees to develop critical skills that potentially open up multiple opportunities for their career development, rather than preparing for a specific next role. Offer greater career development support to employees in critical roles who lack critical skills.

F) (De-)Humanization of employees

While some organizations have recognized the humanitarian crisis of the pandemic and prioritized the well-being of employees as people over employees as workers, others have pushed employees to work in conditions that are high risk with little support — treating them as workers first and people second.

Be deliberate in which approach you take and be mindful of the effects on employee

experience, which will be long-lasting.  Address inequities if remote and on-site employees have been treated differently. Engage task workers in team culture and create a culture of inclusiveness.

G) Emergence of new top-tier employers

Prior to COVID-19, organizations were already facing increased employee demands for transparency. Employees and prospective candidates will judge organizations by the way in which they treated employees during the pandemic. Balance the decisions made today to resolve immediate concerns during the pandemic with the long-term impact on the employment brand.

For example, advise CEOs and executive leaders on decisions regarding executive pay cuts and make sure financial impacts are absorbed by executives versus the broader employee base.

Progressive organizations communicate openly and frequently to show how they are

supporting employees despite the implementation of cost-saving measures. Where feasible, look for opportunities to arrange talent-sharing partnerships with other organizations to relocate employees displaced from their jobs by COVID-19. 

H) Transition from designing for efficiency to designing for resilience

55% of organizational redesigns were focused on streamlining roles, supply chains and workflows to increase efficiency. While this approach captured efficiencies, it also created fragilities, as systems have no flexibility to respond to disruptions. Resilient organizations were better able to respond — correct course quickly with change. 

To build a more responsive organization, design roles and structures around outcomes to increase agility and flexibility and formalize how processes can flex. Also, provide employees with varied, adaptive and flexible roles so they acquire cross-functional knowledge and training. 

I) Increase in organization complexity


After the global financial crisis, global M&A activity accelerated, and many companies were nationalized to avoid failure. As the pandemic subsides, there will be a similar acceleration of M&A and nationalization of companies. Companies will focus on expanding their geographic diversification and investment in secondary markets to mitigate and manage risk in times of disruption. This rise in complexity of size and organizational management will create challenges for leaders as operating models evolve.

The Bottom Line

As the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the corporate landscape, it is also slowly

changing the laws that define the business world. In the months and years to come,

employees and business owners would readapt to new, stricter regulations to safeguard workplace safety and protect them from the economic implications of the pandemic.


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