Coronavirus: Employer’s resource centre — live guidance available here

Five Unusual International Employment Laws

Five Unusual International Employment Laws

BY Kenzie Howard
Employment Law & HR

I doubt it will come as a shock to you that law isn’t generally regarded as the funniest of disciplines (despite what your solicitor might tell you). However, there are some laws which are strange, outdated or at times outrageous! Employment law is no exception to this and I wanted to share some examples from across the world.


No toilet breaks – U.S.A

Starting off this list isn’t as much a strange law, but instead an odd lack of legislation! In the United States employers may technically forbid staff from using the bathroom thanks to there being no law in place guaranteeing an employee’s right to take toilet breaks! In the UK, an employer who limits loo breaks might find themselves in breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, or the Equality Act 2010 should the employee be disabled.


Requiring government permission to fire employees – India

In India it is now illegal for a company of 300 or more employees to fire an employee without first getting government permission, having recently been increased from a limit of 100 employees. This legacy of British colonial rule has remained virtually the same, with the only exception being for cases where an employee is fired for criminal misconduct. Because of the paperwork required, employers rarely seek permission unless necessary. How’s that for job security?


Keep your crazy headwear at home – New Zealand

Are you a fan of wearing funny hats to work? If so, perhaps don’t seek employment in New Zealand. Here wearing a ‘funny’ or ‘inappropriate’ hat to work can be considered as breaking the uniform code and can even land you with a 10% reduction in pay! Having the right to a career travel break – Belgium Fancy travelling but worried about the impact it will have on your career? Maybe consider Belgium for your next job in that case. Not only are employees in Belgium entitled to a year long break from their career with the guarantee that they can continue their job when they return, some will also be eligible to receive their full rate of pay for the duration of their leave! Time to start ticking off the travelling bucket list!


Keeping a slim waistline – Japan

Last but not least, perhaps one of the most unusual laws on this list belongs to Japan, where the ‘Metabo Law’ requires employers to routinely measure the waistlines of any employee aged between 40 and 75. If the employee’s waist exceeds a particular size, they may then obliged to go to dieting classes if they don’t manage to lose weight in 3 months. This was introduced as a public health measure in a bid to tackle obesity but we would strongly discourage any UK employers from deploying a similar approach as they would likely find themselves on the wrong side of a tribunal claim.

© Copyright of Law At Work 2021 Law At Work is part of Marlowe plc’s employee relations division