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Helena Milner-Smith helps clients navigate international HR-legal compliance issues. Her practice includes implementing global employment contracts, policies and codes of business conduct, managing multi-country reviews and projects, advising on the employment aspects of large-scale corporate reorganisations, handling disciplinary and grievance matters and dismissals, and negotiating settlement agreements. She has successfully defended clients in the UK employment tribunal. Ms. Milner-Smith has also gained valuable in-house experience while on secondment at three large multinational corporations, including a pharmaceutical company.

As people head off on their summer breaks, regulators in Europe, particularly Germany, are increasingly focused on the breakdown of the division between home and work life and how this division is changing as mobile devices become used for work-related emails. Regulators are considering new rules that would limit an employer’s ability to require employees

By Helena Milner-Smith, Kamakshi Venkataramanan and Jenna Wallace

Vodafone announced recently a new progressive and generous mandatory minimum global maternity policy.  According to the company, under the new policy, to be in effect by the end of this year, female employees of Vodafone in 30 countries will be offered two maternity benefits: (1) at least 16 weeks of maternity leave at full pay, and (2) the opportunity to work a 30-hour week at full pay for the first 6 months after they return to work from leave.


Continue Reading Vodafone Announces Progressive Global Maternity Policy, Touching on Two Hot Topics in Employee Benefits

We are writing with another update on French labor law that could impact international corporate transactions.  French President Francois Hollande has proposed a change to French legislation that could remove the threat of imprisonment for directors and senior employees who are found to have breached obligations to consult with works councils and other employee representatives.  The implications of this change would be important for businesses in France, and also for international companies involved in mergers, acquisitions and divestitures in France.

Continue Reading Reduced Risk for International Companies Operating In France: Potential Removal Of Severe Sanctions For Failure to Consult with Works Councils

On 7 March 2013, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued new guidance for employers on the use of personal devices for business purposes.  The guidance is largely informed by a survey commissioned by the ICO and carried out by the market research firm YouGov.  According to the survey, 47 percent of adults in the UK use personal smart mobile phones, laptops or tablets for work purposes, but less than 30 percent are given guidance on secure use and the risks relating to loss or theft.  However, even when an employee uses a personal device, an employer may still be liable in the UK for the loss of data relating to individuals that the employer is required to protect.

UK companies have in recent years been increasingly amenable to allowing employees to use personal devices for business purposes, a practice known as “bring your own device” to work, or BYOD.   The driving forces behind the trend for BYOD include cost considerations and a rise in flexible working practices.  The ICO guidance reminds employers that their responsibilities as data controllers apply equally in the context of BYOD.  In other words, employers remain liable for any data loss, theft, or damage to personal data that occurs, regardless of whether processing takes place in their secure corporate IT environment or on the personal devices of their employees. 
Continue Reading Safer “Bring Your Own Device” Policies: New Guidance from the UK Information Commission’s Office