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International Headlines - 1 May 2013

Written by: Patrick Sweeney


Country index by Continent

Burkina Faso
South Sudan
Hong Kong
New Zealand
European Union
United Kingdom
North America & Caribbean
United States
South America

This weekly compilation of stories from wire services, newspapers and other sources is intended to keep Mercer employees and registered visitors to mercer.com informed of benefits, compensation and HR developments around the world. Facts have not been independently verified, and opinions expressed are those of the editor. Readers are invited to clarify, correct or expand on these items.


Universal health system considered

The government of Burkina Faso reportedly launched a four-month stakeholder consultation on a universal health insurance model that would reach the more than 90% of the population currently outside the social safety net. (Mercer Select, 25 Apr 2013) More

Employment of expatriates to be limited

A bill under development is likely to require that foreign companies and aid organizations hire local nationals for unskilled work in South Sudan, according to a presidential announcement. The measure is designed to reduce high unemployment. (Mercer Select, 29 Apr 2013) More


Pension regulator drafts investment rules

Uganda's pension regulator reportedly has circulated draft guidelines for pension fund investments that would set caps by investment type. The regulator is preparing this while awaiting passage of the stalled pensions liberalization bill. (Mercer Select, 26 Apr 2013) More


MySuper transfer tax relief consultation launched

Australia's Treasury has opened a consultation on providing tax relief to default members to buffer the negative impact of having their accounts transferred to new funds under the MySuper reforms. Feedback is welcome through 3 May 2013. (Mercer Select, 26 Apr 2013) More

Cabinet endorses labor law amendments

The Bangladesh Cabinet has approved labor law amendments that would help toward preferential trade status with the US. Departing employees would receive gratuities based on years of service, and employers would face new health and safety requirements. (Mercer Select, 29 Apr 2013) More

Provident fund waives late payment penalty

The Fiji National Provident Fund board has opened a penalty-free window for employers to make late pension fund contributions. The penalty waiver is effective from 22 April until 31 May 2013. A new penalty provision goes into effect 1 Jun 2013. (Mercer Select, 29 Apr 2013) More

Corporate insolvency reform consultation launched

Hong Kong's government has opened a public consultation on a company insolvency law that would be fair to all creditors. It is expected to be merged with a corporate rescue bill that is due for consultation later this year. Comments are due 15 July. (Mercer Select, 26 Apr 2013) More

Changes coming for Employees' Provident Fund

The Employees Provident Fund Organisation reportedly is planning to broaden the definition of wages for calculating EPF contributions, and withdraw a measure that allows payment of insurance premiums from EPF accounts. (Mercer Select, 25 Apr 2013) More

Investment changes imposed, caps eyed for NPS

A circular clarifying investment guidelines for India's private sector New Pension System tightens limits on several investment products. The release coincides with news that a Finance Ministry committee may recommend ending all investment caps. (Mercer Select, 25 Apr 2013) More

Labor reforms introduced in Parliament

The New Zealand administration's Employment Relations Amendment Bill, introduced to Parliament on 26 April, is an attempt to introduce more fairness and flexibility to the workplace while reducing compliance costs, but it is not without its detractors. (Mercer Select, 29 Apr 2013) More

'Mondayization' bill passed by Parliament

Legislation requiring a Monday off when certain public holidays occur on a weekend has been passed by New Zealand's Parliament and has received royal assent. The measure passed by a slim majority after the finance minister declined to exercise a veto. (Mercer Select, 24 Apr 2013) More

Lawmaker endorses bill banning age bias

A legislator is urging passage of HB 156, a bill to ban workplace age discrimination in the Philippines. Age-based discrimination in hiring, dismissal, employment conditions, or remuneration would be illegal under this law. (Mercer Select, 30 Apr 2013) More

Bill backs workplace adult education

HB 1453 would require employers and unions in the Philippines to provide free adult education programs to employees in the workplace. A curriculum approved by the labor and education departments would cover workers' rights and gender equality. (Mercer Select, 25 Apr 2013) More

Cabinet approves pension reform measures

Taiwan's Executive Yuan has approved pension reform changes that include lengthening the salary basis used for pension calculation, lowering the payment rate for the higher paid, and increasing the premium rate. The measures now head to the legislature. (Mercer Select, 29 Apr 2013) More

Revised labor law goes into effect

Vietnam's revised labor code goes into effect 1 May. Changes include expanded maternity leave, caps on working hours, and greater retirement age flexibility. The new legislative framework for dispatching workers has received considerable attention. (Mercer Select, 30 Apr 2013) More


Parental leave law challenged

The European Commission has formally challenged Belgium's implementation of an EU directive on parental leave. If Belgium's reply is unsatisfactory, the Commission could refer the matter to the European Court of Justice. (Mercer Select, 29 Apr 2013) More

Unemployment programs reformed

The Danish government has agreed on major reforms of the unemployment program and benefit payments. The reforms are designed to reduce unemployment through training and job opportunities, especially among those aged under 30. (Mercer Select, 26 Apr 2013) More

New directive on free movement of workers proposed

A new directive to support existing EU rules on the free movement of workers has been proposed by the European Commission. It is intended to make citizens more aware of their rights and to create a better support system in member states. (Mercer Select, 30 Apr 2013) More

Extraterritorial reach of FTT challenged

Five global markets associations have urged G20 finance ministers to oppose the proposed European Union financial transaction tax (FTT). The UK has also lodged a legal challenge with the European Court of Justice against the FTT. (Mercer Select, 30 Apr 2013) More

Correction: ECJ determines scope of fixed-term work

In a final judgment, the European Court of Justice held that fixed-term workers employed by an employment agency on successive contracts and made available to a user company are not covered by an EU directive. The ruling had been incorrectly reported as a preliminary opinion. (Mercer Select, 18 Apr 2013) More

Same-sex marriage bill clears Parliament

France's same-sex marriage bill has cleared its final vote in Parliament by a fairly wide margin despite some bitter opposition. Once it is approved by the Constitutional Council, the president is expected to sign it to be effective this spring. (Mercer Select, 26 Apr 2013) More

French job security bill passes Senate

The French National Assembly will vote on 14 May on the final text of the jobs security bill following the use of a constitutional provision to expedite the bill’s passage. All amendments adopted by the Senate in April have been dropped. (Mercer Select, 30 Apr 2013) More

Employers oppose labor code revisions

Employer groups have expressed opposition to proposed revisions to Georgia's labor code. The amendments would affect working time calculations, fixed-term contracts, employee dismissals, and flexible working arrangements. (Mercer Select, 26 Apr 2013) More

Court adds temps to employee threshold sums

Temporary workers should be included in the calculation of statutory employee thresholds, a German labor court held in two cases. In both, the key determinant for inclusion was the workers' status as ongoing, rather than just peak-time, employees. (Mercer Select, 25 Apr 2013) More

ECJ: Pension protection rights inadequate

Ireland was in "serious breach" of its duty to protect occupational pension benefits in the event of an employer insolvency, the European Court of Justice has ruled. The national courts will now determine compensation for the affected workers. (Mercer Select, 29 Apr 2013) More

Pension Board to be restructured

Ireland's Pensions Board will be renamed the Pensions Authority and split into two separate bodies: The Pensions Council will provide regulatory oversight, and the Pensions Commission will advise the minister on pension policy. (Mercer Select, 26 Apr 2013) More

OECD reviews pension system

A comprehensive review of Ireland's pension system by the OECD has sparked a debate locally. Recommendations include reforming the state pension system, expanding private pension coverage and saving, and enhancing security of DB schemes. (Mercer Select, 26 Apr 2013) More

Pension bonus referred to ECJ

The European Commission has referred Slovakia to the European Court of Justice over its refusal to pay a Christmas bonus to Slovak nationals who live elsewhere in the European Economic Area. (Mercer Select, 29 Apr 2013) More

Court favors part-time pension rights

Spain's minimum qualification period for gaining a pension discriminates against part-time workers who are predominantly female, the Constitutional Court has ruled. The ruling does not apply retroactively. (Mercer Select, 25 Apr 2013) More

Collective dismissal invalid, court rules

The Social Chamber of the Spanish Supreme Court has ruled for the first time that a collective dismissal of 28 employees carried out under last year's labor reform decree was invalid because the companies did not carry out the prescribed protocol. (Mercer Select, 26 Apr 2013) More

Change to fixed-term employment law sought

The European Commission has formally requested that Sweden bring its employment legislation into line with the fixed-term employment directive. Sweden has two months to respond before the matter may be referred to the European Court of Justice. (Mercer Select, 30 Apr 2013) More

Quotas set on five-year residence permits

Switzerland has announced temporary quotas on the number of five-year residence permits it will give to 25 EU member states. The caps will be in force until 31 May 2014. Further curbs on immigration reportedly are under discussion. (Mercer Select, 29 Apr 2013) More

Pensions implications of independence

A report from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland sets out the challenges that would face pensions if Scotland were to gain independence. These include transitioning state pensions as well as meeting funding and reporting requirements. (Mercer Select, 30 Apr 2013) More

North America

New public holiday proposed

The Bahamas' prime minister has delivered a bill to Parliament that would make Majority Rule Day, 10 January, a public holiday. Unanimous approval reportedly is expected in both chambers. (Mercer Select, 25 Apr 2013) More

Work permit policies changed

Bermuda's work permit policies recently have changed. Two new special permit categories grant multinationals more flexibility in staffing local operations with overseas professionals. Also, the Business Visitor Letter requirement is waived for short stays. (Mercer Select, 25 Apr 2013) More

Support typically high for executive pay in Canada

So far this proxy season, shareholder support is generally high for executive pay programs at Canadian companies that voluntarily adopted say on pay, but one company's say-on-pay proposal failed with only 15% support. (Mercer Select, 25 Apr 2013) More

See: Guatemala

Labor enforcement plan with US agreed (Mercer Select, 25 Apr 2013) More

South America

Insurance protection fund bill progresses

The Bolivian Senate has passed legislation that would establish an insurance protection fund to protect policyholder entitlements in the event of an insurer's insolvency. The bill now awaits the president's signature. (Mercer Select, 26 Apr 2013) More

Short-term technical visa process simplified

The Brazilian government has gazetted a normative resolution removing a step from the process for approving short-term technical visas. From 9 May 2013, these 90-day visas will be available through the local Brazilian consulate. (Mercer Select, 30 Apr 2013) More

Senate rejects marriage equality bill

A marriage equality bill opposed by the Colombian administration was defeated by a wide margin in the Senate. This came despite a 2011 Constitutional Court ruling that called on the government to legalize gay marriage within two years. (Mercer Select, 30 Apr 2013) More

Labor enforcement plan with US agreed

Guatemala and the US have negotiated an 18-point labor enforcement plan, which includes strengthening Guatemala's labor ministry, ensuring payment to workers when factories close, ensuring export companies comply with labor laws, and improving disclosure. (Mercer Select, 25 Apr 2013) More

Mercer International Headlines is published by the US international consulting practice library of Mercer. Comments or queries may be directed to Patrick Sweeney at +1 212 345 2462. Click here to find your local Mercer office.


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