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Employment in Asia

Asia employment law bulletin 2021

A jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction guide

Welcome to the 2021 edition of our Asia Employment Law Bulletin!

Last year, our bulletin focused on the era of disruption and its impact on businesses in the APAC region, but none of us could have predicted the nature of the disruption (or the scale and impact of the disruption) that 2020 would present to the world!

For employers, 2020 will be a year remembered as a year of many “firsts” – it was the first time many employers have had to make quick and sweeping changes to the way employees worked; it was the first time they have had to deal with such an imminent threat to the health and safety of their workforce; and for many, it was the first time that the importance of having a robust business continuity plan has come into such sharp focus.

Against this backdrop, this 2021 edition of our annual bulletin will be focused on the future of work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have again collaborated with our StrongerTogether colleagues to reflect upon our experiences in 2020 across 14 countries in the APAC region and how they may shape the future of work.

The areas of focus for employers have evolved with the life cycle of the pandemic. At the outset of the pandemic, employers faced the need to ensure business continuity while retaining their workforce, for example, by turning to government support schemes. They also had to consider what their obligations to ensure the health and safety of their employees meant in light of the remote working arrangements. Now with the roll out of vaccine programs in many countries, employers are considering issues around testing and vaccinations as well as new local government measures, for example, regarding restrictions on the hiring of foreign workers.

One prediction made across the board is that remote working, which employers in the APAC region were perhaps slower to embrace pre-pandemic, will be here to stay.  

In this 2021 bulletin, we will also discuss some of the key legal issues and legislative developments that we have seen in 2020 in APAC,  as well as key changes that we expect to see this year.

The Freshfields Global People and Reward team has penned other articles in our WorkLife 2.0 series bringing together ideas and opinions from across the firm on a range of topics that we consider to be at the forefront of businesses’ minds as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.

Please do pick up the phone to your usual contacts or get in touch if you would like to discuss any of the issues covered in more detail.