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As organizations settle into more flexible working arrangements in the wake of the pandemic, we are seeing a wave of changes in Inclusion, Diversity & Equity (I,D&E)-related legislation. Across the globe, governments are seeking to augment long-established, generic laws on equality to promote inclusion and diversity in the workforce and keep up with measures that many organizations are already implementing.

In this HR Trend Watch, we summarize recent trends and developments in I,D&E, focusing in particular on those relating to women in the workplace and work-life balance.
Supporting women in the workplace
Governments are recognizing the need for laws to protect the rights of and alleviate difficulties unique to working women. A menstrual leave for female employees is under discussion in Spain. In the UK, menopause in the workplace has gained much traction in the light of businesses, governments and regulators having publicly recognized menopause as a health priority. In China, a provincial court issued its first equal opportunity case judgment in favor of a pregnant employee. In Latin America, Colombia has required the implementation of nursing rooms in private companies with less than 1,000 employees, while Argentina has required employers to provide maternity and day care rooms for companies with more than 100 employees.
Meanwhile, Brazil, Singapore and Japan have launched initiatives to strengthen career advancement opportunities for women, and in Europe, the European Commission has proposed a directive for EU member states to enforce a quota on the participation of women in corporate boards, following the initiatives of Germany and the Netherlands.
Work-life balance and family-friendly changes
With the European Union’s deadline on implementing the work-life balance directive now having passed, several member states including Poland, Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands are slated to enforce enhanced parental and carer’s leaves. In the Asia Pacific region, several jurisdictions including China, Japan and Malaysia have improved parental leaves for employees, including giving options for employees to request flexible working arrangements to accommodate the needs of their young families.
Read on for the latest regional developments and thought leadership pieces in I,D&E:


Australia: Sexual harassment and assault results in large compensation award 
An employer was found to be vicariously liable for the harassment of a female employee by her male co-worker.
China: Guangdong province court issues first equal opportunity case judgment in favor of pregnant employee
Guangdong province’s first equal employment rights case recently concluded. The worker, who had been fired on account of her pregnancy, claimed lost salary for the period of pregnancy and for the unused maternity leave as well as compensation for mental distress.
China: New parental and elder care leave requirements implemented throughout China
In an effort to increase China’s birth rate and encourage people to spend more time taking care of elderly parents, the national and local governments throughout China have recently provided employees with various new leave entitlements.
Japan: Changes to action plan regarding women’s participation and advancement and childcare leave 
Starting April 1, 2022, the requirements under the Act on the Promotion of Female Participation and Career Advancement in the Workplace now apply to companies with more than 100 regular employees.
Malaysia: Employment (Amendment) Bill 2021 — key amendments to the Employment Act 1955
A summary of the key amendments introduced by the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2021, which include: enhanced maternity leave entitlement, enhanced sick leave, restriction on termination of pregnant employee and new rules on
paternity leave.
Singapore: Singapore Women’s Development proposes anti-discrimination laws, guidelines on flexible work
A summary of the Singapore government’s White Paper on Singapore Women’s Development, the first whole-of-society review of women’s development.
Thailand: Thai cabinet approves Civil Partnership Bill
The Thai cabinet approved in June 2022 the Civil Partnership Bill, which allows same-sex couples to register their partnership. This is a development for gender equality and diversity. Civil unions will be available to consenting same-sex couples who are at least 17 years old, as long as at least one of them is a Thai national. Civil partners will have the same legal rights as married people regarding personal and jointly held property, as well as the right to adopt children.
Another interesting trend on inclusion, diversity and equity in the workplace increasingly being observed in Thailand is around special leaves, where additional leaves are provided by some employers, including leave for transgender reassignment surgery and paternity leave, as well as increased welfare coverage for LGBTQ employees.


European Union: Board gender quotas a step closer
On June 6, 2022, the EU reached a political agreement on long-mooted proposals for board gender quotas. If finalized, listed companies would need to ensure that either 40% of their non-executive directors or 33% of all directors are from the underrepresented gender by June 2026.
Italy: New laws on transparency and work-life balance
On August 13, 2022, two new laws implementing EU Directives No. 2019/1152 (“Transparency Directive,” click here for our latest newsletter on this matter) and No. 2019/1158 (“Work-life Balance Directive”) will enter into force.
Netherlands: Use your voice — four recommendations for our new ‘MeToo’ government commissioner
Recommendations for the new government commissioner on dealing with inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
Netherlands: Expanded paid parental leave takes effect on August 2, 2022
On October 12, 2021, the senate approved the Paid Parental Leave bill. On the basis of this bill, parents will receive (partial) payment for nine weeks of parental leave as of August 2, 2022.
Poland: Amendments to Poland’s Labour Code
Amendments to Poland’s Labour Code to implement the European Union’s Work-Life Balance Directive include enhanced parental leave and privileges.
South Africa: Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment in the Workplace — a timely slap in the face for bullies at work
In South Africa, the recently published Code of Good Practice on the Prevention and Elimination of Harassment in the Workplace guides employers and employees in managing harassment at work.
United Kingdom: Belief in ethical veganism that extends to breaking the law is not protected
An employment tribunal has held that a claimant’s belief in ethical veganism that extended to taking positive action to reduce or prevent the suffering of animals, which included criminal conduct such as trespassing on private property to expose and remove suffering animals, was not a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010.
United Kingdom: No plans to make menopause a protected characteristic under the Equality Act
The Minister for Work and Pensions and Minister for Women has confirmed that the government is not currently planning to introduce menopause as a protected characteristic under the Equality Act or to implement dual discrimination.
United Kingdom: Infertility — a workplace issue
Organizations wishing to foster an inclusive culture and maintain “employer of choice” status, are increasingly considering the workforce impact of such life events which were traditionally regarded as purely personal issues.


Argentina: Regulation on the provision of maternity and daycare rooms
by employers 

As of March 23, 2023, employers are mandated to provide maternity and daycare spaces for children between 45 days and three years old who are under the care of employees during working hours.
Brazil*: New measure and decree to promote the inclusion of women and young people in the workforce  
A new legal measure implements a program to include and maintain women and young people in the labor market, along with a new Decree, which provides for the right to professionalization of underage and young people through professional learning programs.

*Trench Rossi Watanabe and Baker McKenzie have executed a strategic cooperation agreement for consulting on foreign law.
Latin America: Inclusion and diversity report  
In this report, we take a closer look at Latin America’s I&D landscape.


United States: The proliferation of pay transparency laws: What US employers need to know (Video)
In this Quick Chat video, we explore key pay transparency developments in New York, California, Colorado, Washington and several other states and how multinational businesses can develop consistent and compliant compensation plans and recruitment policies.
United States: Running a privacy law-compliant inclusion & diversity data collection program globally
Our E&C and Data Privacy groups collaborated to author an article published in IAPP on the global recruitment and employee-directed I&D initiatives of organizations where diversity data collection may have the potential to increase (rather than decrease) risks of discrimination claims.
Canada: Understanding the new right to disconnect in Ontario (Video)
In December 2021, the Ontario government passed Bill 27 – Working for Workers Act, 2021 requiring employers with 25 or more employees to create a “Disconnecting from Work Policy” by June 2, 2022. The Ontario government is following the lead of France, Spain and Portugal – all of which have adopted similar legislation in recent years.

For More Information

For further insight on ID&E in the workplace, please follow the hyperlinked resources below. 


Susan Eandi is the Chair of Baker McKenzie's North America Employment and Compensation Practice Group, head of the Global Employment and Labor Law Practice for North America, and a member of the North America Regional Management Council. She also serves on the Firm's Antiracism Legal Impact Board.
Susan speaks regularly for organizations including ACC, Tech GC, Silicon Valley AGC and World Business Council for Sustainable Development. Susan publishes extensively in various external legal publications in addition to handbooks/magazines published by the Firm.
Susan is a recognized leader in employment law by International Employment Lawyer, The Daily Journal, Legal 500 PLC and is a Chambers-ranked attorney.


Tatiana Garces Carvajal is a lawyer and a specialist in Labor Law, graduated from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, with post-graduate studies in Commercial Law from Universidad de los Andes. She has over 30 years of experience advising major clients on matters related to individual and collective Labor Law. For three years, she worked at Alcalis de Colombia, occupying the positions of Director in charge of the HR Department, head of the Legal Division of the Betania Plant, and as a Lawyer in the Legal Department. Previously, she worked as Head of the Personnel Department at AGA Ltda., and as a paralegal at the law firm Esguerra, Gamba, Barrera y Arriaga Asociados. In addition to her experience as professor, lecturer, author of several publications and arbitrator in labor collective disputes, she served as technical adviser to the employers’ delegate for Colombia at the 98th Session of the International Labor Organization in Geneva (2015). She also participated at the 93rd Conference (2009). Currently, Tatiana is a member of the Javeriana University Law School Council representing graduates from Universidad Javeriana. She joined Baker McKenzie Bogotá office in 1992 as an Associate in the Labor Law department and was appointed partner on July 1st, 2000. In 2017 she was appointed as Managing Partner for Baker McKenzie Bogotá office, which made her the first woman in Colombia to hold this position in a law firm. In addition to this position, she led the Employment and Compensation group in Latin America, until June of 2021. In the exercise of these functions, Tatiana was part of the Steering Committee of the Global Employment and Compensation Group, as well as of the Global Policy Committee of Baker McKenzie. Currently, she is part of the Employment and Compensation Steering Committee for Latin America, leads the Bogotá Employment & Compensation practice and as a member at large is part of the Global Employment & Compensation Steering Committee of Baker McKenzie.


Monica Kurnatowksa is a partner in the Firm’s London office. She is recognised by The Legal 500 and Chambers UK as a leading individual. Chambers say she has “impressive experience of handling complex employment disputes and advisory matters for major clients. She is known for her expertise in trade union matters.” "The breadth of her experience is phenomenal." "She is an outstanding lawyer who provides a first-class service while juggling the intense demands of running high-profile matters on behalf of her clients. She is unflappable, courteous and extremely knowledgeable”. Monica is a member of the Consultation Board of PLC Employment On-line and is a regular speaker at internal and external seminars and workshops.


Michael has more than 15 years' experience as an employment law and industrial relations lawyer, acting for clients in a range of industries, including banking and finance, insurance, health and pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, real estate, media and entertainment, information technology and professional services. He has developed and published compliance programs and best practice policies locally and within Asia Pacific. He is the author and a developer of CCH’s Employment Contracts Manager, a software package that builds and tailors smart employment contracts. He has also authored a large number of chapters in every edition of CCH’s Australian Master Human Resources Guide. Articles written by Michael on employment law topics have appeared in the Melbourne University Law Review, CFO Magazine, Human Capital, Lawyers Weekly, Human Resources, and CCH’s Employment Law Bulletin. He has also spoken at events arranged by the College of Law, Macquarie Graduate School of Management, and various professional associations. He wrote and produced “Dismissal Impossible,” a training video on unfair dismissal and sexual harassment, for the Australian Stock Exchange. Michael regularly conducts employment-related litigation before State and Federal courts and industrial tribunals at an original and appellate level.