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Netherlands: Legislative changes in the field of employment and care

Legislative developments: On 1 January 2015 a number of changes to the Employment and Care Act (Wet arbeid en zorg) and the Act on the Adjustment of Working Hours (Wet aanpassing arbeidsduur) came into effect. The changes aim to facilitate the reconciliation of work and care . The most important changes are:

In the Employment and Care Act:

  • Introduction of a right to parental leave (unpaid) of three days for fathers following the birth of a child, in addition to the pre-existing two days of paid father’s leave (art. 6:5 § 4);
  • Abolition of the requirement of a minimum of one year’s employment before requesting parental leave (art. 6:6);
  • Introduction of the possibility to spread the leave for foster care or adoption instead of being required to take four weeks consecutively (art. 3:2 § 4);
  • Widening of the period during which the leave for foster care or adoption can be taken, from 18 to 26 weeks (art. 3:2 § 2);

United Kingdom: Can obesity amount to a disability under national law

Case: The Claimant had a BMI of 48.5 and suffered from sleep apnoea and gout. He was harassed by Mr Butcher, a work colleague, in connection with his weight. Mr Butcher said of him both that he was “so fat he could hardly walk” and that he was “so fat he would hardly feel a knife being stuck into him”. He claimed that he had been subject to disability-related harassment contrary to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (which still applies in Northern Ireland, but whose relevant provisions are materially identical to those of the Equality Act 2010 which applies in Great Britain). Unusually, the claim was brought against Mr Butcher alone and not against the employer, which had dismissed Mr Butcher in connection with the behaviour of which the Claimant complained.

Decision of the Court:The Tribunal referred to the decision of the CJEU in the Kaltoft case (C-354/13) and ruled that the Claimant was disabled, rejecting the argument put for Mr Butcher that the condition was self-inflicted.

FYR Macedonia: Obligatory social insurances for freelance contract workers

Law development: With the entry into force of theamendments to the Law on Obligatory Social Insurance, from 1 January 2015 every freelancer contract in which the fees are over the national minimum wage (currently approximately EUR 150 per month) will incur the liability of the freelance contract worker to pay all the obligatory social insurances. These include retirement, invalidity, and health insurance, excluding insurance in case of unemployment. These freelance contracts are regulated by the Contract Law (Law on obligations; ‘Закон за облигации’) and include paying tax on personal income.

This new requirement to pay all of the obligatory social insurances on freelance work contracts applies to all social areas (any kind of services, arts, culture, journalism, translations, small crafts, minor repairing, cleaning services etc.) and all working people,   excluding only retired people. In addition, the obligation does not include any temporal clause; the duration of the working contract can be one hour, one month, or one year – the Law does not distinguish between durations of contracts. The only exception are payments that amount to more than six times the average national monthly wages (approximately EUR 2 500), which are free of any taxation or duties.

Romania: Measures to secure accessibility to communication services by persons with disabilities

Law development: The National Authority for Administering and Regulating Communications (Autoritatea Națională pentru Administrare și Reglementare în Comunicații, ANCOM) issued a decision establishing measures targeting persons with disabilities as final users of electronic communications which entered into force on 1st of March 2015. Decision 160/2015 aims to ensure “access and possibilities of final users with disabilities of electronic communications for the public, adapted to their needs and in similar conditions to those provided to other final users.” The decision establishes minimal standards so that any user with disabilities can exercise the right to enjoy electronic communications for the public (phone land lines, mobile phones, internet services except public hotspots). The providers of communication services have a duty to establish an accessible webpage with all the relevant information for users with disabilities and to provide such information in writing upon request.

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