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The article was first published in Duff on Hospitality Law blog.

November 2016 held more than one shock for many in America. Not only did the presidential election cycle come to a dramatic close, but the government introduced its new Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

First introduced in 1986, the “Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification,” must be completed for every new employee. Over time, it has been expanded from one page to two. And its instructions have grown from less than a page, to six pages for the 2013 edition to 15 pages of Instructions – more than four for the employee section alone – for the 2016 edition in English and in Spanish.

iStock U.S. Flags and Wall Street SignIn our latest installment of our Resource for Doing Business in the U.S., we focus on key laws an investor in the U.S. needs to know when employing personnel in the U.S. These laws apply whether the personnel are transferred from abroad or hired locally – and, as you will see, there can be laws related to employees at the local, state and federal level. It’s definitely an area where one cannot merely assume the laws will be similar to the laws at home. The laws also vary state to state and city to city within the U.S. To avoid exposing their employers to significant risks, even experienced Human Resources managers seek legal advice in this area.

By way of introduction to the topic, the installment you find here sets out the basics of what you need to know as a new U.S. employer. 

Companies sometimes hire workers through staffing agencies. Sometimes they participate in joint ventures or have subcontracting relationships.  Companies and individuals today enter into a variety of contractual arrangements to reduce costs and maximize available capital, flexibility, talent and efficiency. A typical feature of these arrangements is for one company to use and incorporate the work performed by employees of another company into the products and services it ultimately delivers.This is common in the world of cross-border transactions and relationships, where it makes sense to arrange for another company to perform the work needed due to its expertise, location or cost overhead.

Asian man in suitJapan’s recent revisions to the Worker Dispatch Law came into effect as of Oct. 1, 2015, despite objections from labor unions and other opponents. These revisions form part of a larger effort by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to loosen labor laws in a country known for long-term relationships between employers and their employees. Here are three important changes to the temporary workers system that those doing business in Japan should note:

  • Time Limit – The time limit restricting the use of temporary workers has effectively been lifted. Previously, most industries could only employ a temporary worker in a given position for a maximum of three years. That three-year limit now only applies to a specific temporary worker, so a company may continue to employ temporary workers in a given position so long as no individual worker holds that position for more than three years. This three-year limit may be reset if the employing company asks the opinion of either a labor union or other representative of the majority of employees. Notably, the new three-year limitation will also apply to individuals not previously covered by the three-year term limit, including those working in 26 industries deemed to require special skills, such as translators, software developers, and interior designers. The former temporary worker may be assigned a new job and continue to work for the same company for more than three years, but not in the same capacity, without full-time employment.
  • Governmental Permission – Temporary staffing agencies must now receive governmental permission to operate. Such agencies also must request that a company hire a temporary worker as a permanent employee when such a worker has completed a three-year position, and must hire the workers themselves or introduce them to alternative firms if the company declines to permanently hire that worker. These changes are a significant departure from the previous law, under which a company employing a temporary worker in a given position for three years was required to offer that temporary worker a permanent position. These new measures are intended to stabilize employment for temporary workers within the revised scheme.
  • Reporting and Benefits – Firms using temporary workers should also be aware of several new requirements. Such firms now must provide temporary staffing agencies with information detailing the pay and benefits it pays permanent workers, as well as information on vacancies for permanent positions. Temporary workers must be allowed access to relevant trainings and “welfare facilities” made available to permanent workers, including dorms, cafeterias, recreational and other facilities. Similarly, temporary staffing agencies are also now required to provide career training and counseling to their temporary workers.

These changes and others are expected to shake up the temporary worker system is significant ways, although their likely impact on Japan’s broader economy is not yet clear. However, we can certainly expect to see more important legislation as Prime Minister Abe’s economic reforms move forward.

HiResA good business plan involves consideration of both short-term and long-term goals. Your plans should do the same for your management and business employees; getting them into the U.S. as you start or grow your business, and keeping the organization properly staffed as it succeeds. This occasional blog provides guidance regarding some of the most common and important employment-based U.S. immigration options.  

Today’s blog focuses on an employment-based immigration option available to citizens of particular countries; in this case, Japan. I will follow up with additional information about these options for other countries in the future.

iStock_000040646252_LargeWill recent international laws impact the role of women in business? Can a country legislate the role of women in corporations?

In the last week, two countries reportedly adopted new laws to increase women’s role in companies.

Japan’s Law on Promoting Women’s Role in the Workplace

In the last week, two countries reportedly adopted new laws to increase women’s role in companies.

On Aug. 28th, the Japanese parliament approved a bill aimed at promoting and enhancing women’s role in the workplace. Companies with over 300 employees must analyze their current status and set numerical targets for promoting and employing women.

The analysis must consider various aspects of women’s participation in a business:

1) The ratio of women in recruitment;

2) The difference between genders in the duration of employment;

3) The working hours for women;

4) The ratio of women in management positions; and

5) Other aspects of women’s participation.

Companies must then establish numerical targets for at least one of these aspects of the operations in their action plans to be implemented beginning April 1, 2016. Their plans must be made public. The law also calls for creating an environment where women can balance work and family.

Others are also impacted by the law. The new law imposes similar obligations on central and local governments. Companies with 300 or fewer employees are also required to make efforts to comply with the law, but without any set process.

Although there are no mandatory numerical goals and no penalties for anyone, the law is viewed as a significant development. The Japan Institute for Labor Policy and Training, reports that women make up 11 percent in management positions in 2013. This law aims to increase that number.

Germany’s Law on Requiring Women on Boards

Similarly, last week, Germany passed a law requiring public companies to give 30 percent of board seats to women. In companies on the S&P 500, women represent under 20 percent of the directors. Even in England, where there has been a concerted, voluntary effort to increase the number of women on boards, called the 30% Club, the New York Times recently reported in "Women on Boards: Where the U.S. Ranks" that the boards of Britain’s biggest stock index companies are only 23 percent female. This phenomenon persists, despite studies such as that from David A. Carter, Frank D'Souza, Betty J. Simkins & W. Gary Simpson, indicating that gender and ethnic diversity on boards has a significantly positive effect on return on investment, (See, The Gender and Ethnic Diversity of U.S. Boards and Board Committees and Performance, 18 CORP. GOVERNANCE: AN INT'L REV. 396, 400 (2010).)

Will these laws make positive change for corporations by allowing firms to explore any benefits of greater numbers of women in the corporate world or will laws mandating such change just be an ineffective annoyance?

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About Us
Foster Garvey’s International practice group comprises a cross-disciplinary group of attorneys practicing in areas ranging from business transactions, immigration, maritime, government regulatory work, transportation and logistics and estate planning. The group members include bilingual and multicultural attorneys who are well-versed in handling these subject matters in a cross-border context. A number of attorneys have been actively practicing in the international arena since the early 1970s.
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