I qualified as an employment lawyer more than 30 years ago and have practised as an employment lawyer since that day. One of the benefits of passing such milestones is being able to look back and see how trends have appeared over time and have shaped the advice needed by employers, and consequently the expectations of employment and human resources (HR) advisers and lawyers.
When I started, employment law was almost entirely a national subject. This was the case, even though, within the European Union, there was an employment framework derived from the European Union with some common obligations and rights throughout the Member States. During the past 15 years or so, that position has changed as business has become increasingly international, with operations spanning many countries, and often with supply chains spanning yet more countries. As this process developed, employers structured themselves internationally, so that legal and HR teams, among others, are able to deal with a globally mobile workforce. Similarly, employers and their in-house teams are expected to be able to deal with disputes and potential disputes across many countries, and come up with an overall approach that delivers the right results across the board and not in one country at the expense of another. The most obvious example of this may be an attempt by an employer to enforce a post-termination restriction written under the laws of one country against an employee who is based in a second country, but who may want to compete with the employer in a third country. Employment lawyers need to be able to provide this advice, and HR professionals are increasingly expected to have an appreciation of employment law and practice in other countries.
This is why, when I was approached to be the editor of this book, I thought it was very timely and important. Employers and their advisers need to be able to keep up to speed with the significant employer-related developments occurring throughout the world. Added to this is the fact that employment law is a fast-moving area with significant developments occurring every year in all the jurisdictions covered by this book – employment law does not stand still.
I am very grateful to the contributors for their time and effort in putting this book together. Like all the best products, it has been a real team effort. I am sure this book will prove very useful both this year and in subsequent years as we continue to cover the developments in this area.