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Hiring globally has become increasingly normal for international companies, especially with the rise of remote work. Hiring employees from different countries can help you grow a presence in other important labor markets and access a wider pool of skilled workers to help you increase productivity. 

However, hiring internationally has some important challenges that businesses will need to consider. Countries have local employment legislation that will need to be met, and sometimes the employment laws in the country you want to hire from can be drastically different than where your company is based.

Many countries around the world have some interesting employment legislation. For example, there are strange employment laws in Japan, weird legislation in the Philippines, and some bizarre laws in Australia. This guide will tell you what you need to know about some of the quirkiest employment legislations in the world. 

Understanding Employment Laws

Employment legislation is a set of policies that governs all aspects of the working relationship between an employer and employee. Many rules and regulations specify the rights and responsibilities of both parties in employment and provide important protections to workers, such as a minimum wage. 

Other important laws can mandate that an employer guarantees a safe workplace, removes discriminatory biases from the hiring process, and more. Employment legislation is also generally divided into a comprehensive range of areas, including wages, benefits, leave entitlements, and employment contracts. 

Laws can also be federal or jurisdictional, and employment legislation will vary between countries. Union presence and collective bargaining agreement stipulations can also impact the terms of employment. 

Why are Employment Laws Important?

Employers and employees should have an understanding of their country’s employment legislation for several reasons. Knowing the most important labor laws in a country can ensure fair treatment for everyone involved in the working arrangement. 

Legislation guarantees that employees perform the work outlined in the contract and sets standards for employers. Specifying clear requirements for both parties can help prevent workplace disruptions and resolve disputes. 

Companies will also need to abide by the local labor laws in any country they operate. For example, there are some strange laws in Japan you’ll need to know about such as rules against having facial hair in certain regions and strict termination regulations. There are also some strange laws in Australia like the right to request remote work, along with a few weird laws and standards in the Philippines, including the extended Christmas season. 

Certain employment laws are also designed to uphold employment and cultural standards in a country. For example, some places have blasphemy laws, meaning that employers can face punishments when offending religious feelings. Employees in these countries may also have additional protections when it comes to religious worship and more freedom to perform any important religious ceremony. 

Failure to do so could result in noncompliance penalties, which can include severe fines, reputational damage, sanctions against future employment, and more. Partnering with an employer of record service such as Borderless can help keep international companies compliant at each step of the hiring process. 

Strange Employment Legislation Around the World

While many employment laws worldwide are relatively straightforward and make sense, there are also some strange laws that companies will need to obey to remain compliant with local regulations. Employers and employees will need to implement effective policies for culturally specific practices and other related acts. 

Japan’s Metabo Law

Japan has a booming economy and a highly skilled workforce, but international companies will also need to know about some of the strange employment laws in Japan. The Japanese Metabo Law is one of the more quirky employment legislations in the world. 

In 2008, the Japanese government introduced this employment law, which stipulates that companies and local governments are required to measure the waistlines of individuals aged between 40 and 74. This is typically done during the worker’s annual physical or checkup. The government’s limits are 33.4 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women based on BMI calculations, though it doesn’t account for other lifestyle factors like smoking or drinking alcohol. 

Individuals who exceed the waistline limits are not subjected to financial penalties, but they are given a recommended diet guide. If these employees fail to lose weight after a maximum period of three months, they are given additional education for six more months. Companies can face severe financial penalties if they fail to comply by measuring every eligible employee or meeting certain targets.  

Overall, the employment legislation is meant to lower the overweight population in Japan and combat the potential impact an aging workforce may have on the healthcare system. This is also aimed to reduce the frequency of weight-related diseases such as strokes, heart failure, and diabetes. 

Japan’s Laws for Beards

Japan has some other strange laws regarding employment. As of 2019, in some regions in Japan, beards and other forms of facial hair are considered unpleasant. This is especially relevant for men working in municipal service jobs in certain regions of the country. Many employers may find it desirable for prospective workers to be clean-shaven. 

In the municipality of Isesaki, employees are banned from having any form of facial hair in the workplace. This is one of the more quirky laws in Japan.

Portugal’s Termination Period

Companies who want to hire in Portugal may be curious about some of the important terms of employment, such as the required procedure to legally dismiss an employee if necessary.  

In contrast to most major European markets, an employer can only dismiss an employee in Portugal for certain reasons. Reasons include just cause (gross misconduct like workplace violence), mutual termination, retirement, economic reasons, and non-renewal of an employment contract. Engaging an EOR can help you remain compliant when hiring in Portugal. 

However, companies will also need to know that they generally cannot dismiss an employee under Portuguese employment legislation. Additionally, there is no federally mandated period to terminate an employee. Any terms of termination must specifically be outlined in the contract of employment. 

Generally speaking, employers in Portugal must offer incentives to employees who they want to resign and hope they accept. There is no formal required termination period in the country’s employment legislation and employers in most cases do not have the right to legally fire an employee. This is one of the major considerations international companies will need to know, along with other employment standards and costs of hiring in Portugal. 

Belgium’s Career Break

One of the major employment laws companies will need to know when hiring in Belgium is the Career Break Law. This is in addition to other important legislation and mandatory costs of hiring in Belgium

The Career Break Law gives Belgian employees the opportunity to take an extended break from work for a certain period of time to travel or relax while still getting paid, and employees have a guaranteed job upon returning. 

Passed in 1985, Belgium’s career break allows employees to interrupt their employment arrangement for a set duration. In the private sector, career breaks are referred to as a time credit. Employees are entitled to this after one year of consecutive service for the same employer. Workers also do not need to provide a reason for using their time credit or career break. 

Reasons for putting your career on hold can include taking leave for training, personal reasons, parental leave, and more. Workers must file an application and request time off from their employer. 

Australia’s Employment Laws

Australia also has a few strange laws that must be followed to remain compliant with local labor rules. Parts of the employment legislation in Australia are designed to promote a better work-life balance and a more relaxed workplace culture. 

The Fair Work Act was passed in 2009 and is one of the primary pieces of legislation that upholds employment standards across the country. The law has been amended several times over the years, and now, Australian employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements from their employers in response to rapid technological changes.

Workers with at least one year of service have the right to make a request. Remote workers cannot work more than 38 hours in a week and are entitled to various benefits. 

Flexible working arrangements can include:

  • Different times to start and finish work
  • Part-time work or job-sharing
  • Working more hours over fewer days
  • Working additional hours to compensate for time taken off
  • Time off instead of overtime payments
  • Different locations of work
  • Taking days off in half days for greater flexibility

Additionally, Australia has modern awards, which are industry-specific enterprise bargaining agreements that set the working conditions for each sector. Companies can benefit by researching some of the strange laws in Australia. 

Employers will also need to be aware of the differences in regional employment laws. For example, certain employment legislation in Western Australia may be different from other jurisdictions. 

India’s Termination Laws

In addition to the relatively strict rules regarding termination in Portugal, India also has some strict laws governing this aspect of employment. It’s important to understand that the country does not practice at-will employment, meaning employers must give a notice period prior to dismissal. Notice periods are generally anywhere from 30 to 90 days. 

However, companies that operate in India and employ more than 100 people are unable to terminate permanent workers without receiving government permission. Additionally, employers may need to receive permission from other relevant governing bodies, such as a union. Terminated employees are also eligible for severance pay in most cases. 

In some cases, the law excuses termination without notice if the employee was found guilty of criminal misconduct or other significant violations. Some sectors also only require government notification and do not need formal approval. Understanding the rules and regulations in India can help employers draft contracts with comprehensive termination clauses. 

Luxembourg’s Overtime Laws

In contrast to some other European countries, the rules and regulations for working overtime in Luxembourg are somewhat strange. Employers will need to know the proper procedures and overtime stipulations in the country. 

Luxembourg’s employment laws dictate that any work exceeding 40 hours in a week is considered overtime, and employers must pay 150% of the worker’s hourly rate or provide 1.5 hours of time off for every overtime hour worked. Overtime is capped at 48 hours per week. 

However, the country has strict rules regarding overtime hours that must be followed. In Luxembourg, employers will need to file a request and receive authorization from the Minister of Labor or Labor and Mines Inspectorate (ITM). Any overtime requests require substantial reasons explaining the need for additional work, an opinion or signature by employees or staff delegates, and a signature by the head of the company. 

Certain exceptions apply to this rule:

  • When the reason for overtime work is caused by an incident that just occurred
  • When the hours are worked in accordance with special circumstances, such as emergency maintenance work

Employers can only request overtime within reasonable limits, and excessive amounts of overtime can be considered as an infringement on employees’ rights

Employment Laws in the Philippines 

There are several weird employment laws in the Philippines that any international company will need to know to remain compliant. The Labor Code of the Philippines regulates all terms of employment and is managed by the Department of Labor and Employment. 

One of the quirkier labor laws in the country requires employers to pay a 13th-month bonus to all non-management workers as a statutory benefit. Generally, companies must pay the bonus by Christmas Eve. Employers also must file a compliance report by January for confirmation, which can be strange for companies from countries without mandated bonuses.  

While it's not a formal employment legislation, employers must also understand the Christmas season in the Philippines, which can impact hiring practices and workplace culture. The Philippines has one of the longest Christmas seasons in the world and typically celebrates from September to the end of December. Understanding the weird laws in the Philippines and employment standards can help you stay out of trouble, as violating employment-related Republic Acts can lead to noncompliance. 

It’s important to know that the Revised Penal Code can also be used in certain instances for employment-related issues, such as if an employer is liable for criminal actions or significant employee misconduct. In the case of severe and illegal misconduct, employers have valid reason to terminate an employment agreement without a necessary minimum period for notice. 

Companies working in the political sector may also need to have an in-depth understanding of the Omnibus Election Code, which governs the rules, conduct, and regulations for elections. 

Strange Employment Laws in the United States

While many of the United States’ federally mandated employment laws are similar to other Western countries, there are several state-specific employment legislations that are quirky

For example, workers in Kentucky are protected from discrimination for various reasons, including their smoking status. Employers cannot refuse to hire an individual because they smoke as of 1994. 

In Michigan, there is employment legislation that protects employees from being discriminated against based on their height and weight. Michigan’s anti-discrimination laws help ensure that employees are hired based on their qualifications and skills instead of looks. Employers operating in the state must follow these rules and regulations or face penalties except under certain exceptions. 

Under Virginia’s employment laws, performance reviews can be considered defamation in some cases. Writing an intentionally malicious review – especially for individuals who have never worked with the employee – can result in legal action. 

In Ohio, non-compete clauses in employment contracts are not enforceable for lawyers. Agreements cannot restrict the right of a lawyer to practice law after termination. 

Additionally, in contrast to many other countries, employees in the United States can be terminated if the worker’s wages are being garnished for multiple debts. Employees with a single debt are protected under the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA). Having a guide for hiring in the United States can help keep you compliant. 

How Can Borderless Help?

Navigating the murky waters of international employment law can be tricky. Luckily, employers who want to hire international staff can engage an employer of record service such as Borderless to make the process simpler, more efficient and compliant.

An employer of record acts as the legal employment entity in the country you want to hire from and handles complicated responsibilities such as payroll, benefits administration, and ensuring that all of your contracts of employment are legally valid. 

An EOR also has expertise in various areas of employment law and can help you remain compliant with the laws from where you’re hiring from, even if the specific legislation may be bizarre. This helps you spend more time and energy into making sure you can grow your business properly.

From helping you understand the strange laws in Japan, to helping you navigate the strange laws in Australia, or keeping you compliant with the weird laws in the Philippines, we’re here to help. With Borderless, you can navigate any interesting laws. 

Contact us today to see how we can help you, or check out some of our other blogs if you want to learn about some of the important labor laws from around the world. 


Borderless does not provide legal services or legal advice to customers, contractors, employees, partners, or the general public. We are not lawyers or paralegals. Please read our full disclaimer here.

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