H-1B Cap Registration Commences on March 1st; Are you ready? 

Visa

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that the initial registration period for the fiscal year (FY) 2023 H-1B cap will open at noon EST on March 1st and run through noon EST on March 17, 2023. USCIS intends to notify selected registrants by March 31st. Employers sponsoring selected registrants will be able to file cap-subject H-1B petitions in April.

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Impressing a Robot: EEOC Takes a Byte Out of AI Based Hiring (US)

Squire Patton Boggs Intern Ruzanna Mirzoyan discusses the EEOC’s focus on artificial employment tools in employment recruitment and hiring decisions.

Job applicants might be surprised to learn that their resume may need to impress an artificial intelligence (“AI”) algorithm before they can score an interview. A significant (and growing) number of employers currently use AI during the hiring and recruiting process. According to a February 2022 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management, about one in four employers use AI or an automated algorithm to help with hiring and recruiting decisions, with larger employers more likely to use AI tools in their hiring process.

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Managing Long-term Sickness Webinar – Follow-up questions answered (Part 3 – UK)

Question and Answers

Here are a couple more of the questions – and our outline answers – following our recent webinar on Managing Long-term Sickness Absence.  

Today we address the following:

  • On a phased return to work, is an employee entitled to sick pay (Company or SSP) for any hours/days they do not work?
  • What if an employee cannot come back to work full-time or if they just want to work full-time from home?

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Did you hear? The EEOC issues new guidance on auditory disabilities in the workplace. (US)

Hearing impairment probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about workplace discrimination. In fact, it’s probably not even in the top ten. With hearing impairment affecting about 15% of adults, however, this is a topic that has recently moved its way up the EEOC’s priority list.

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Managing Long-term Sickness Webinar – Follow-up questions answered (Part 2 – UK)

Question and Answers

During our recent webinar on Managing Long-term Sickness Absence, we received a number of questions via the chat facility. Our second batch of answers addresses the following questions:

  • If an employee is on long-term sick leave, can we insist on a Fit Note or do we rely on the fact there is no Fit Note to mean they are not fit to work?
  • Am I correct in saying that we cannot withhold SSP if, for example, an employee is not cooperating with our request to attend an OH appointment?

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Increased liabilities under new draft Code on dismissal and re-engagement – evidence is all (UK)

Legal Paperwork

Back in November 20201 we reported here on some new Acas guidance on changing terms of employment through dismissal and re-engagement, and in November last year on the Government’s intention to issue a new statutory Code on that practice here.

A first draft of that Code has now landed and we can exclusively report that in terms of actual usefulness to employers it lives down to all reasonable expectations.  The draft elevates repetition to an art-form, cramming perhaps 4 pages of potentially helpful pointers into a full 16.  It is not nice to criticise something so obviously well-intended and in principle sensible, but do we really need: 4 statements that other statutory consultation obligations may be engaged, and that recognised trade unions should not be side stepped into the consultation process; 5 mentions of dismissal and re-hire being a last resort only and of the importance of avoiding discriminatory consultation methods or changes to terms, 7 separate nudges to the employer to provide as much information as possible and to keep its own business requirements under review in the light of representation received and a full 8 different renditions of the need for consultation to be genuine and open-minded.  There are only a comparatively restrained 2 cautions not to use threats of dismissal to put “undue pressure” on employees to agree new terms, which is a little odd as this was actually the main trigger for the consultation in the first place.

Strip all that away, however, and you do reach an almost incidental kernel of potentially interesting issues.  Their relevance arises from the inclusion within the Code of permission to Employment Tribunals hearing claims arising from fire-and-rehires to increase or reduce compensation by up to 25% for unreasonable non-compliance with it.  Therefore knowing what the Code actually requires of you, whether as employer or employee, is pretty important.

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2023 – A Year of Change for Czech Employers

Legislation

The Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has proposed two draft Bills that will introduce major changes to Czech employment law this year. Although the legislation is currently still in draft form, we recommend that employers start preparing for the changes ahead now, as the new rules will come into force shortly after the legislation has been passed.  

The first draft Bill is a proposal for a new Whistleblowing Act.  Its main purpose is to implement the EU Whistleblowing Directive, including introducing greater protection from possible retaliation for whistleblowers as well as new, more formal procedures for handling reported breaches. The most important new obligation that will be imposed on employers is to set up an internal reporting system for receiving and processing reports of unlawful conduct. Affected employers will also have to appoint a special officer responsible for receipt and investigation of such reports. The new legislation will cover all employers with at least 50 staff. It has already undergone its first parliamentary reading and should come into force at the start of the second month after being passed.

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Managing Long-term Sickness Webinar – Follow-up questions answered (Part 1 – UK)

Question and Answers

During our recent webinar on Managing Long-term Sickness Absence, we received a number of questions via the chat facility that we will address in a short series of blogs over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more to come. 

The first questions we address are:

  • When speaking about obtaining medical advice, you mentioned AMRA – the Access to Medical Reports Act. Can you explain a bit more about this?  
  • What should an employer be aware of from a data protection perspective when requesting medical information in this context?

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January Commences with Key Updates on Premium Processing Expansion (US)

UK Passport & Visa

On January 12, 2023, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced two significant updates to its premium processing expansion plan: (1) implementation of premium processing for all EB-1 Multinational Executive and Manager and EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) categories and (2) a future expansion of premium processing for F-1 Students Seeking OPT and STEM OPT applications and for certain Students and Exchange Visitors.

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Belgium finally transposes the Whistleblowers Directive – fashionably late, but worth the wait?

Roughly a year late, but here we are then: Belgium has finally transposed the Whistleblowers Directive into national law. The Act of 28 November 2022 on the protection of reporters of breaches of Union or national law discovered within a legal entity in the private sector sets out the rules for companies in the private sector (another on 8 December did the same for the public sector). The advantage of Belgium being one of the slowest pupils in the European class is that by now, you will already be quite familiar with the principles of the Whistleblowers Directive, in particular that legal entities with more than 50 employees have to set up an internal reporting channel and procedure for whistleblowing, and that the reports need to be handled by a person or service whose independence is guaranteed and for whom there are no conflicts of interest, etc.

The theoretical advantage of that prior knowledge is that this blog can focus on the topics where Belgium’s Act stand out from the herd, but as per usual, there is not an awful lot there to report. Belgium is not very often a trailblazer when it comes to transposing EU legislation, and this time is no exception. The Act of 28 November 2022 says what it needs to say and not much more.

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