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In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration continues to install stringent measures that will impact employers hiring foreign national temporary workers.

In June 2020, Hong Kong passed the Discrimination Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2020 (“Amendment”), amending the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO), the Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO), the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO), and the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (FSDO). Read more for a summary of the key changes and suggestions for employers.

In a major announcement on Thursday, July 9, the UK government outlined how the UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will conclude. Also, the government has announced two new initiatives to prevent future unemployment and bring furloughed employees back to work.

In March 2020, Spain implemented an expediente de regulación temporal de empleo (ERTE) in Royal Decree-Law 8/2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ERTE is a scheme that allows companies to temporarily lay off staff or cut hours, while allowing these workers to obtain compensation. Under the scheme, employment contracts are not terminated but merely “suspended” on the grounds of force majeure.  

Due to a dramatic decrease in revenue during the coronavirus pandemic, roughly 13,400 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employees will receive notice of administrative furlough on or before July 2. USCIS has announced that it expects the first furloughs to begin when its current funding is exhausted around August 3. As explained below, employers should anticipate further delays with applications and in processing petitions due to this situation, which has been brewing for several years.

On Tuesday, June 30, 2020, the Council of the European Union announced its list of “safe countries” from which the EU will allow entry by business and tourism travelers. The list will be reviewed every two weeks and may be updated if the coronavirus situation in other countries improves or worsens, the E.U. statement said. 

As some European Union countries begin to open up to visitors from other EU countries and the border-free Schengen zone, the EU is now developing plans for opening up to business and pleasure travelers from around the world – but with a few notable exceptions. According to widespread media reports, the EU is strongly considering continuing its ban for travelers from the United States, Brazil, and Russia.

As of June 15, 2020, non-essential retailers in the UK may reopen after months of being shut down. The government has published guidance for employers, employees, and self-employed persons on how to keep their workplaces “COVID-Secure.” 

Mexico’s General Health Council (CSG) will add industries to the list of essential businesses effective June 1, 2020. The Mexican government is also expected to issue mandatory measures for all businesses to follow as a return-to-work requirement. 

As an increasing number of countries are moving toward reopening their economies, many global employers must decide whether to require their employees to undergo COVID-19 tests before they can return to work. Before implementing a testing requirement, employers should carefully consider the potential for unintended consequences, such as discrimination based on testing results and the unreliability of certain tests.

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