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In brief

It has become clear that flexibility is currency in the new working world and legal frameworks are evolving to catch up with the changing working culture. Four-day work-weeks, flexible working arrangements and the right to disconnect are all on offer to employees, giving the opportunity for better work-life balance, and giving employers a competitive edge in talent retention.

While these concepts cannot be blindly adopted across borders or industries, given the vast differences that exist in attitudes to working hours, demands of specific industries and the global nature of teams, we are seeing increasing numbers of multi-national organizations implementing flexible working programs. Meanwhile, lawmakers across the globe are continuing to introduce new flexible working measures, offering greater protections to workers and resulting in a patchwork of nuanced guidance and regulation. Here’s our take on how this is playing out across the globe:

Right to disconnect

France was the pioneer in this area introducing a “right to disconnect” law in 2016, followed by BelgiumItalySpain, Portugal and Luxembourg in EMEA. More jurisdictions followed suit in the thick of the pandemic as the trend became more of a necessity. Since 2021, there has been a pending resolution in the European Union calling for an EU directive on the right to disconnect. In the LATAM region, the right to disconnect became a reality including in Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Peru. In the North America region, Canada has likewise mandated employers with more than 25 employees to create a “Disconnecting from Work Policy.” More recently, in the APAC region, Taiwan and Thailand issued new guidelines, supporting employees’ right to disconnect with corresponding sanctions for violation.

Four-day work week

Last year, we heard a lot about the four-day working week, primarily in Europe – see our alerts for Belgium and Austria. Since then, following its move to a 4.5-day working week in 2022, the UAE has now implemented a four-day work-week for federal government employees effective from 1 July 2023. In the LATAM region, Chile recently reduced the mandatory working hours from 45 to 40 hours per week while allowing companies to distribute these hours across a minimum of four days (previously five days).

Flexible work arrangements 

The right to request flexible work arrangements has likewise gained traction in the past year, which resulted in the creation of laws on remote work or teleworking. In APAC, Australia recently allowed certain categories of employees the right to request for flexible work arrangements. In the Philippines, the government encourages employers to adopt flexible work arrangements for pregnant employees and those exposed to extreme heat and strenuous activities. Meanwhile, the UK’s employment bill, which includes the right to request flexible work, has received Royal Assent.

A full copy of the alert can be viewed here


Michael Brewer is the Managing Partner of Baker McKenzie's California offices in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Los Angeles and Chair of the Firm’s Global Employment & Compensation Practice. A trial lawyer who represents global and domestic clients, Michael has tried class action and single plaintiff employment cases before judges, juries and arbitrators. Super Lawyers has repeatedly recognized Michael for his superior defense of employment claims.


Jonathan Isaacs heads Baker McKenzie's China Employment Practice. Jonathan is listed as a leading lawyer for China employment law in various legal publications and has shared insights on labor and employment issues with many publications and media outlets, including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, LA Times, Reuters, The Economist Intelligence Unit, Voice of America, RTHK, LA Times and Fortune Magazine. He has also co-authored the leading treatise on Chinese employment law in English, Employment Law & Practice in China. He is admitted as a lawyer in the state of New York, USA.


Celeste is a Principal in our Dispute Resolution and Employment Practice Groups. Her practice encompasses corporate and commercial dispute resolution, compliance and investigations. She has significant experience acting for global clients in cross-border disputes and advising clients on compliance and regulatory issues in the context of cross-border investigations. Celeste also has a particular focus in employment, particularly contentious employment work and employee investigations, and currently heads Baker McKenzie's Asia Pacific Employment & Compensation Practice. Celeste has been recognised as a 'Litigation Star' in the Labor and Employment space by Benchmark Litigation Asia Pacific, 2021 and has been ranked Band 1 in Employment in Singapore by Chambers Asia-Pacific since 2019 to date. She is recognised as "highly regarded in Singapore for her employment law advice, handling unfair dismissal claims and retrenchments"; a "source praises her 'very responsive and practical advice'" and that "Celeste is a brilliant lawyer and is able to provide effective advice to clients in a timely manner." Celeste is also ranked as a Leading Individual in Labour and employment in Singapore by Legal 500 Asia Pacific 2022 and noted as "a litigator with a strong record in employment disputes" and in the foreign firms section as "a dispute resolution specialist with an extensive record in contentious employment matters".


Leticia Ribeiro C. de Figueiredo joined the Firm in 1998, as a corporate trainee, and became partner in 2013. Until July 2003, she was primarily involved in M&A and Corporate Law, with experience in national and international M&A projects and corporate restructurings. From July 2003 on, she has been working exclusively in the Labor Law practice group.
She has a wide breadth of experience with strategic litigation cases and relevant consultancy in individual and collective matters (i.e. restructuring, equity pay, PDVs – voluntary resignation program, PLRs – participation in profits or results, alteration of compensation plans and benefits), including national and international projects. Additionally, she works with collective bargaining agreements.
Trench Rossi Watanabe and Baker McKenzie have executed a strategic cooperation agreement for consulting on foreign law.


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.


John Evason manages the employment team in London. He is a specialist employment lawyer advising on all aspects of employment law. He is ranked as a star individual in Chambers and a leading individual in Legal 500. He is a member and former chair of the Legislative and Policy Sub-Committee of the Employment Lawyers Association which provides comments to the UK government on new and amended legislation and regulations. He is a regular speaker at conferences and seminars, and frequently contributes to various legal and personnel publications.

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