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The Global Legal Monitor is an online publication from the Law Library of Congress covering legal news and developments worldwide. It is updated frequently and draws on information from official national legal publications and reliable press sources. You can find previous news by searching the Global Legal Monitor.

Egypt: House of Representatives to Vote to Amend Anti-Protest Law

(Apr. 21, 2017) Members of the Egyptian House of Representatives announced on March 29, 2017, that they are planning to cast the final votes on the amendments to Law No. 107 of 2013, known as the Anti-Protest Law. (Law No. 107 of 2013, 47 AL-JARIDAH AL-RASMIYAH (duplicate) (Nov. 24, 2013, at 2 (in Arabic).) The procedural rules of the House require that a quorum of two-thirds of the members be present at the final voting session on the amendments, because the Law is considered one of the laws complementary to the Constitution.  Article 73 of the 2014 Constitution states that citizens have the right to organize public meetings, marches, demonstrations, and all forms of peaceful protest while not carrying weapons of any type, upon providing notification as regulated by law.  (Parliament to Vote on Protest Law Amendments Amid Dissatisfaction of Some MPs, DAILY NEWS EGYPT (Mar. 29, 2017); Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt, 2014, State Information Service website (unofficial translation).)

Members of the House will focus on debating the modification of article 10 of the Law.  Article 10 grants the Ministry of Interior the right to ban protests.  It allows the Minister of Interior or the security director concerned to cancel, postpone, or modify the route of a protest if the official has acquired “serious information or evidence that the assembly would threaten national peace and security.”  (Id.)

On December 3, 2016, the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court held that article 10 of Law No. 107 was in direct violation of article 73 of the Constitution.  (George Sadek, Egypt: Supreme Constitutional Court Rules Law Regulating Public Gatherings to Be Unconstitutional, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Dec. 19, 2016).)

According to news reports, there is sharp division among members of the House over whether or not the provisions of the Law must include the penalty of imprisonment for the act of protesting without permission.  Some members voiced their opposition by stating that the debate is supposed to focus only on the amendment of article 10 of the Law and not extend to the Law’s other provisions.  (Parliament to Vote on Protest Law Amendments Amid Dissatisfaction of Some MPs, supra.)

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Italy: Amendment to Law on Employment Contracts

(Apr. 21, 2017) On March 17, 2017, new employment legislation entered into effect in Italy. (Decree-Law No. 25 of March 17, 2017, Urgent Provisions for the Repeal of Provisions on Accessory Work as well as for the Amendment of Provisions on Joint Liability in Government Procurement (D. L. No. 25), GAZZETTA UFFICIALE (G.U.) (Mar. 17, 2017), NORMATTIVA (in Italian).) The new Decree-Law amends a 2015 decree-law on employment contracts and a 2003 legislative decree on employment.

The Decree-Law repeals articles 48 to 50 of Legislative Decree No. 81 of June 15, 2015, the Organic Law on Employment Contracts and Review of the Regulations on the Issue of Tasks, Pursuant to Article 1, Paragraph 7, of Law No. 183 of December 10, 2014 (G.U. (June 24, 2015), NORMATTIVA (in Italian)).  The repealed provisions contained a definition of “accessory work” applicable to both the public and private sectors, which referred to additional work activities that entitled workers or employees to a maximum extra compensation of €2,000 (about US$2,119) during a calendar year.  (D.L. No. 25, art. 1(1).) Other repealed provisions referred to the obligations of employers and employees for the implementation of accessory work and to employers’ obligations with respect to social security regulations in the case of accessory work.  (Id.) However, accessory work benefits already accruing at the time of entry into effect of the new legislation will be valid and payable until December 31, 2017. (Id. art. 1(2).)

L. No. 25 also amends a legislative decree on employment and the job market, with reference to the liability of employers and entrepreneurs. (Legislative Decree No. 276 of September 10, 2003, Implementation of Delegated Legislation on Employment and the Job Market Referred to in Law No. 30 of February 14, 2003, G.U. (Oct. 9, 2003), NORMATTIVA (in Italian).) The amendment eliminates the exception established in article 29 on the joint and several liability of employers and entrepreneurs, along with the contractor and any eventual sub-contractors, for compensation and other benefits owed to workers under the terms of contracts for labor or services. (D.L. No. 25, art. 2(1).)  The exception to the joint and several liability of employers and entrepreneurs consisted of provisions contrary to those set forth in national collective bargaining agreements between nationally representative employers’ and workers’ associations provided that such agreements included methods and procedures to control and verify compliance with existing contracts. (D.L. No. 25, art. 2(1).) D.L. No. 25 also repeals paragraphs two, three, and four of article 29, which dealt with the hiring of new contractors and with the judicial recourses available to contractors arising from infraction of contractual provisions outlined in the other repealed provisions.  (Id.)

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New Zealand: Government and Care Workers Reach Pay Equity Settlement

(Apr. 21, 2017) On April 18, 2017, the New Zealand government announced that a settlement had been reached with workers in the government-funded service sectors of aged and disability residential care and home and community support services that will result in pay increases of between 15 and 50% for those workers. (Press Release, Jonathan Coleman, $2 Billion Pay Equity Settlement for 55,000 Health Care Workers, BEEHIVE.GOVT.NZ (Apr. 18, 2017); Govt Settles Historic Pay Equity Case, RNZ (Apr. 18, 2017).)

Court Case Brought by Care Workers

The settlement follows court decisions in a case involving a pay equity claim brought against a rest home operator by the Service and Food Workers Union (now called E Tu) on behalf of a care worker and several other union members. (Id.) The union essentially argued that pay rates in the aged care sector were less than what would be offered if the employees worked in a male-dominated industry. The Employment Court agreed, ruling in 2013 that the low hourly pay rate of care workers employed by the defendant was a result of gender discrimination and that the Equal Pay Act 1972 was applicable. (Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota Inc [2013] NZEmpC 157 (22 August 2013), NZLII website; Equal Pay Act 1972, New Zealand Legislation website.) The Court of Appeal upheld the finding that the Equal Pay Act 1972 could apply to pay equity, and the Supreme Court did not grant leave to appeal. (Terranova Homes & Care Limited v Service and Food Workers Union Nga Ringa Tota Incorporated [2014] NZCA 516 (28 October 2014); Terranova Homes v Services and Foodworkers Union [2014] NZSC 196 (22 December 2014), NZLII website.)

Working Group on Pay Equity

The government subsequently established a joint working group on pay equity, involving representatives of unions and employers, that was tasked with recommending “agreed principles on pay equity that could be applied in all sectors of the economy.” (Press Release, Paula Bennett & Michael Woodhouse, Working Group to Pursue Pay Equity Principles for Workplaces, BEEHIVE.GOVT.NZ (Oct. 20, 2015).) The working group reported back to the government in 2016, and its recommendations were subsequently accepted. These included

  • principles to provide guidance to employers and employees in identifying, assessing and resolving pay equity claims; and
  • a process for employers and employees to follow to address pay equity, including a bargaining process based on the Employment Relations Act framework. (Press Release, Paula Bennett, Michael Woodhouse, & Louise Upston, Govt Accepts Recommendations on Pay Equity, BEEHIVE.GOVT.NZ (Nov. 24, 2016); Employment Relations Act 2000, New Zealand Legislation website.)

The government also decided to supplement the recommendations in order to “clarify how to choose an appropriate job for comparison when making a pay equity claim.” (Press Release, Bennett, Woodhouse & Upton, supra.) Changes are needed to the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Equal Pay Act 1972 in order to implement this approach and the working group’s recommendations. (Id.)

A draft of the Pay Equity Bill was released for public consultation on April 20, 2017.  (Press Release, Michael Woodhouse, Pay Equity Bill Released for Consultation, BEEHIVE.GOVT.NZ (Apr. 20, 2017).) The Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, Michael Woodhouse, stated:

Currently, the Equal Pay Act is not equipped to provide guidance on pay equity claims and needs to be updated to provide for a practical and fair process for employees to follow if they feel they are not being paid what their job is worth due to gender discrimination. The draft Bill also provides principles for, and gives guidance on, how to choose comparable jobs and roles to judge Pay Equity claims.  (Id.)

Settlement with Care and Support Workers

At the time it established the working group, the government also stated that it would negotiate over the pay rates for care and support workers.  (Press Release, Bennett & Woodhouse, supra.)  The settlement resulting from the negotiations with the relevant unions affects about 55,000 predominantly female workers, 20,000 of whom are currently paid at the minimum wage rate of NZ$15.75 (about US$11.06) per hour.  Under the settlement,

A care and support worker on the minimum wage with three years’ experience and no qualifications will receive a 27 per cent increase in their hourly wage rate moving from $15.75 to $20 per hour from July 1. That rate would progressively increase to $23 by July 2021 and would rise further if they attain a higher qualification. (Press Release, Jonathan Coleman, supra.)

The settlement will cost the government NZ$2.048 billion (about US$1.439 billion) over the next five years, which will primarily be funded by an increase in the budget allocated to the health sector, although there “may also be an increase in costs for people in aged residential care facilities, whose assets keep them above the [government] subsidy threshold.”  (Id.)  Legislation will be introduced to “ensure the pay rises happen in the agreed manner.”  (Id.)

Reactions to the Settlement

The association that represents operators of most estabresidential care facilities for the elderly in New Zealand, including the operator that was subject to the original claim, issued a statement welcoming the settlement, saying that the “case has cast a dark shadow of uncertainty across the industry for several years now and a resolution is most welcome.” (Press Release, New Zealand Aged Care Association, NZ Aged Care Association Welcomes Pay Settlement for Caregivers (Apr. 18, 2017).)  It acknowledged the original plaintiff in the case, as well as the defendant, and gave the government credit “for its willingness to confront this issue and so avoid a lengthy Court case.” (Id.)  The chief executive of the association stated,”[t]oday’s settlement creates the right pay and conditions for caregivers and is a game changer in a sector that has traditionally struggled to attract New Zealanders into these roles.”  (Id.)

The chief executive of BusinessNZ, which advocates for the interests of businesses in the country, said that “businesses would need to learn how to address potential pay gap claims, because it was the fair thing to do,” adding that it would be critical for payment time frames to be put in place so that businesses are not bankrupted in the process.  (Govt Settles Historic Pay Equity Casesupra.)

The assistant national secretary of E Tu, the union that represented the original claimant, said in a joint statement with other unions that the settlement will mean a “once in a lifetime pay rise which will end poverty wages for this mainly female workforce and set them on the path to a better life.”  (Press Release, E Tu, Historic Day as Caregivers Offered Equal Pay Settlement (Apr. 19, 2017).)

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China: Guiding Case on Liability of Online Shopping Platforms in Tort Cases

(Apr. 20, 2017) On March 6, 2017, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) released the sixteenth batch of guiding cases. (Zuigao Renmin Fayuan Fabu Di Shiliu Pi Zhidaoxing Anli [The Supreme People’s Court Released the Sixteenth Batch of Guiding Cases], SPC website (Mar. 16, 2017); see also Laney Zhang, China: Supreme People’s Court Issues Ten More Guiding Cases, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Apr. 5, 2017).)  Among these cases, Guiding Case No. 83 provides guidance in identifying the joint liability of Internet service providers (ISPs) in tort cases; in the case in question, the ISP is an online shopping platform.  (Zhidao Anli 83 Hao: Weihai Jiayikao Shenghuo Jiadian Youxian Gongsi Su Yongkangshi Jinshide Gongmao Youxian Gongsi, Zhejiang Tianmao Wangluo Youxian Gongsi Qinhai Faming Zhuanliquan Jiufen An [Guiding Case No. 83: Weihai Jiayikao Home Appliances Limited Company v. Yongkangshi Jinshide Industry and Trade Limited Company and Zhejiang Tmall Network Limited Company] (Guiding Case No. 83), SPC website (Mar. 16, 2017).)

In Guiding Case No. 83, the online seller, Jinshide, was held liable for infringing the patent right of the plaintiff, Jiayikao, by selling products on Tmall, a business-to-consumer retail platform of the Alibaba group that was spun off from Taobao. The Jinhua Intermediate People’s Court awarded the plaintiff a remedy of RMB150,000 (about US$24,550).  Tmall was held jointly liable for RMB50,000 (about US$8,183) of the total damages, due to the extended harm caused by its failure to take necessary measures to stop the online retailer from infringing intellectual property rights.  The Higher People’s Court of Zhejiang upheld the decision.  (Id.)

Joint Liability of Internet Service Provider Under the PRC Tort Liability Law

The applicable law on this issue is article 36(2) of the PRC Tort Liability Law. Article 36(2) provides that after being notified by the victim of infringement, an ISP (in this case, Tmall) must take the necessary measures, such as deleting, blocking, or disconnecting the infringing links, to stop the infringement in a timely manner.  If the ISP fails to take such necessary measures, it will be held jointly and severally liable for any extended harm resulting from that failure.  (Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo Qinquan Zeren Fa [PRC Tort Liability Law] (adopted and promulgated on Dec. 26, 2009, effective on July 1, 2010), art. 36(2), NPC website; unofficial English translation,WIPO website.)

Validity of Notification

Previously, in a 2014 judicial interpretation, the SPC provided guidance on the application of article 36(2) of the PRC Tort Liability Law with regard to the validity of the notification from the victim and whether or not an ISP has taken the necessary measures in a timely manner. (Zuigao Renmin Fayuan Guanyu Shenli Liyong Xinxi Wangluo Qinhai Renshen Quanyi Minshi Jiufen Anjian Shiyong Falü Ruogan Wenti de Guiding (2014 SPC Interpretation) (Fa Shi [2014] No. 11, Aug. 21, 2014, effective Oct. 1, 2014), arts. 5&6, CHINACOURT.ORG; unofficial English translation, COPYRIGHT CHINA AND MEDIA.) The 2014 SPC Interpretation provides that a valid notice must include: (1) the name and contact information of the notifying party; (2) the website address at which the rectifying actions should be taken or other relevant information sufficient to accurately locate the infringing content; and (3) the reasons for requesting deletion of the content.   (Id.)

According to Guiding Case No. 83, before filing the lawsuit the plaintiff had filed a complaint with Tmall. However, Tmall claimed that the complaint was not valid and did not notify the seller about the complaint. Holding that the complaint was a valid notice under article 36(2) of the Tort Liability Law, the court opined that a valid notice could be either oral or in writing, and that as long as the notice includes information on the identity of the victim, proof of ownership of rights, the website address of the alleged infringer, and preliminary evidence of the infringement, it is a valid notice. Furthermore, the court ruled, a notice is legally valid as long as it satisfies the prescribed standard, even if it does not comply with the notice rules set by the online shopping platform.  (Guiding Case No. 83.)

Necessary Measures and Extended Damages

According to the SPC, in deciding whether an online shopping platform has taken the necessary measures in a timely manner for the purpose of article 36(2) of the Tort Liability Law, the nature of the network service, the form and degree of accuracy of the notification, and the type and extent of the infringement should be considered. (2014 SPC Interpretation, art. 6.)

In Guiding Case No. 83, the court held that for the purpose of article 36 of the Tort Liability Law, “necessary measures” are not limited to deleting, blocking, or disconnecting the infringing links; an online shopping platform should consider the nature of the infringement, the circumstances of the infringement, and available techniques to decide whether a measure is “necessary.” An online shopping platform need not necessarily delete every link to an alleged infringing product as soon as it receives a notice of infringement; rather, it should reasonably and carefully evaluate the notice before deleting and blocking a link.

In this case, Tmall should have at least notified the seller and provided the seller means to respond to the plaintiff’s complaint, the court held. Although Tmall deleted the link to the infringing product after being sued, its failure to inform the seller after receiving the original notice from the plaintiff contributed to the seller’s additional selling of the infringing product. Therefore, the platform is jointly liable for the additional damages caused by its failure to take the necessary measure, i.e., informing the seller of the infringement.  (Id.)

Prepared by Emma Wei, Law Library Intern, under the supervision of Laney Zhang, Senior Foreign Law Specialist.

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Morocco: Law Aimed at Protecting Domestic Workers Adopted

(Apr. 20, 2017) On August 10, 2016, the King of Morocco issued a decree approving the Law on Fixing the Conditions of Employing and Employment of Female and Male Domestic Workers.  The Law will come into effect, pursuant to its article 27, “one year after the necessary texts needed for its implementation have been published in the official gazette”; that is, August 22, 2017.  (Royal Decree 1.16.121 of August 10, 2016, OFFICIAL GAZETTE, No. 6493 (Aug. 22, 2016), Secretariat General of the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco website (in Arabic).)

The most significant features of the new Law are as follows.

  • The employment of domestic workers must be evidenced by a written contract, one copy of which must be deposited with the relevant employment inspection department (id. art. 3).
  • The employer must inform the worker of any contagious disease the employer or any of his family members has contracted and the worker must similarly inform the employer of any contagious disease the worker has contracted (id. art. 5).
  • The minimum age of employment for domestic workers is 18 years. However, during the first five years from the date of implementation of the Law, the employment of workers between 16 and 18 years old is allowed, provided that the worker has an authenticated written permission document signed by his or her guardian to that effect (id. art. 6).
  • The working hours for domestic workers will be 48 hours per week, but only 40 hours per week for those between 16 and 18 years old (id. art. 13). Each worker must have a continuous weekly rest period of at least 24 hours (id. art. 14). For a period of one year from the date of resuming work after giving birth to a child, a female domestic worker will be entitled to an additional rest period of one hour per day for breast-feeding (id. art. 15).
  • The Law requires the minimum wage for domestic workers to be not less than 60% of the regular minimum wage set for other industries, and the worker is entitled to severance pay if the employment lasts for one or more years (id. arts. 19 & 20, respectively).

Reactions to the Law

Human Rights Watch has praised the new Law.  Ahmed Benchemsi, its Middle East and North Africa communications and advocacy director, said: “[t]his new law is groundbreaking for domestic workers in Morocco, so many of whom have been exploited and abused.”  (Morocco: New Law Advances Domestic Workers’ Rights, Human Rights Watch website (Aug. 1, 2016).) He also said,

Despite the limitations of the new law, however, it will provide legal protection for the first time to some of the country’s most vulnerable workers. This is a real success, for which we should congratulate the government and also—perhaps especially—Moroccan nongovernmental organizations that campaigned for this ground-breaking reform for many years.  (Domestic Workers Finally Have Rights in Morocco, Human Rights Watch website (Aug. 9, 2016).)

But Insaf, a Moroccan non-governmental organization, has criticized the Law for allowing the employment of workers between 16 and 18 years old for a transitional period of five years, contending it would allow the exploitation of child domestic workers for that period.  “For unexplained and inexplicable reasons, upon the proposal of the minister of Employment, lawmakers voted in Article 6 of the law a five-year period during which the exploitation of minors is permitted.”  (Saad Guerraoui, Controversial Domestic Labour Bll Adopted in Morocco, ARAB WEEKLY (June 19, 2016).) Under the Labor Code of Morocco the minimum age of employment is 15 years.  (Law 65.99 of 2003, art. 143, Ministry of Justice ADALA MAROC portal (in Arabic).)

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