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Snapshot of latest benefit and employment developments in 2021

Beyond Data

August 2021

Get ahead of the local changes to benefits and employment practices in your market this year.

2021 has been a challenging year for employers. Many have had to make unexpected adjustments to their benefit programs and workforce plans, in addition to overseeing and implementing the usual regulatory changes.

This summary provides a snapshot of just some of the local market developments taking place throughout 2021. To stay on top of the various updates, you may be interested to find out more from our 2021 Employment Terms and Conditions Report and Benefits Profile.


New statutory provisions under the Working from Home Act were introduced on April 1, 2021. The Act includes provisions on agreements, accident insurance protection, as well as the tax treatment and provision of work equipment for remote working.


China's first ever Civil Code came into force on January 1, 2021. It amalgamates existing legislation on civil and legal liabilities, including employers’ obligations on data privacy and protection, sexual harassment in the workplace and employment of minors.


Since July 1, 2021, first time fathers are entitled to 28 days of paid leave for the birth of a child, effectively doubling the existing entitlement. The bulk of the entitlement (25 calendar days) is paid by social security.


Significant changes were made to the provisions of the Manpower Law (effective February 2021) on various matters, including:

  • Reducing the cost of termination payments on dismissal and eliminating paying 'service' compensation
  • Allowing for termination payments (severance and long-service pay) to be offset by the employer-financed portion of retirement benefits of a company retirement plan


The Gender Pay Gap Information Bill (approved in July 2021) establishes gender pay reporting and disclosure requirements. Reporting will be required by companies with 250 or more employees, expanding to firms with 150 or more within two years and to firms with 50 or more, three years afterwards.


Amendments to the Human Resources Development Act in March 2021 extended the obligation for employers to contribute 1% of payroll to the Human Resources Development Fund, to 48 industry sectors.


Legislation to prohibit the subcontracting of personnel, both using outsourcing companies and through the common practice of insourcing, came into force on April 24, 2021.


Labor Code amendments, effective January 1, 2021, expanded the manner and situations in which staff may work remotely, as well as the rights and obligations of both employers and employees.

Saudi Arabia

Since June 1, 2021, the Skills Verification Program (SVP) requires foreign workers in around 1,000 professions to pass an examination on their professional skills. The program will first apply to companies with 3,000 or more employees and, by December 1, 2021, will be required for companies of all sizes.


Recent amendments to the Labor Code include:

  • Effective January 2021, the tax-exempt treatment of voluntary 13th and 14th months salaries was abolished.
  • Effective March 2021, a legislative framework for remote work to distinguish between regular and exceptional circumstances was introduced.

South Korea

The statutory maximum workweek of 52 hours (including 12 hours of overtime) now applies to companies with between five and 49 workers with effect from July 1, 2021.

Sri Lanka

On February 19, 2021, the maximum severance pay for non-disciplinary reasons increased from LKR 1,250,000 to LKR 2,500,000. The previous cap had been in place for fifteen years.


The Personal Data Protection Act came into force in May 2020, implement as of May 31, 2021. Employers are required to obtain employee consent in collecting personal data, and to protect the data collected. Employees have the right to control and manage how their personal data is collected and used.


Regulations published in the Official Gazette in March 2021 further elaborated the existing provisions on remote working and outlined the process of transitioning to remote working.

United Kingdom

A new points-based system was introduced on January 1, 2021 for sponsoring all foreign workers for employment in the U.K., replacing the prior points-based system for skilled workers from outside the EU and the free movement of labor applied to within EU. Points are awarded according to educational qualifications, work experience and profession.

United States

The American Rescue Plan Act was signed into law on March 11, 2021. It included single-employer defined-benefit pension plans, increasing the amortization period for funding shortfalls from 7 years to 15 years, and extending and enhancing interest rate stabilization for funding valuation purposes.

It's important to stay on top of the statutory employment changes in your markets to make informed decisions.

Also available is our latest report on Severance Policies and Practices.

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