Working Around The World: 10 Laws That Will Surprise You

All around the world, humans are working. No matter how different our food, cultures or cities, most of us get out of bed, and do a task in exchange for money. The world of work is universal, but there are a surprising number of differenced – even in today’s connected world.

Here are 10 of the more surprising laws that govern the workplace around the world.

1. Japanese employees get to sleep in on Mondays

Named “Shining Monday,” employees are given one Monday morning off per month to do as they please. This is to curb employee overtime: a chronic problem in Japan. It’s so bad, they even have a word for death by overwork. Karoshi.

2. French workers aren’t allowed to answer emails outside office hours

This law is meant to reduce burnout, and ensure employees are paid a fair wage for fair working hours. Known as the “right to disconnect,” companies with over 50 employees must establish hours when staff shouldn’t write any emails.

3. Indonesian employees cannot lose their job unless the company ceases to exist

The number of reasons someone can be fired in Indonesia is incredibly short. And if an employee takes an unfair dismissal to court, they’re still entitled to draw a salary. The only way to terminate an employee without the hassle is if the company closes down.

4. Survivors of domestic violence are given time off to rebuild their lives in New Zealand

It should come as no surprise that a country with its third female head of state is creating empathetic legislation. New Zealand companies now must give up to 10 days paid leave to employees leaving a violent situation.

5. You cannot be fired for failing a drug or alcohol test in Minnesota, USA

… Or the first time, at least. By law, a company must let an employee who fails a drug or alcohol test to complete a treatment program before returning to work.

6. The Irish Constitution references the fact that a woman’s work is at home

Enshrined in the very constitution that Ireland is built on is the phrase that “mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labour to the neglect of their duties in the home.” It’s likely to be debated soon, but right now “running a home” is legally job for only women in Ireland.

7. The Living Wage in the UK is only for the over 25s

Inspired by a charity initiative of the same name, the UK government introduced a living wage: one that covers the basic cost of living. But, it only applies to those aged 25 or over. No research has shown if the under 25s have lower living costs, though.

8. In Hong Kong, you can buy your way out of a job

The hardest thing about terminating a contract is the time between the giving of notice, and the date it actually ends. To ease this, both employees and employers in Hong Kong can pay their way out of a notice period.

9. In Spain, you can get away with doing no work for a decade – and still get paid for it

One civil servant in Spain claimed a €50,000 a year salary simply by clocking in, heading out, and returning to work just in time for hometime at 4pm. He got away with it, too, for 10 years – before he got found out.

10. You don’t even have to exist to get paid a salary in Uganda

Or at least, that used to be the case. With recent crackdowns on the government payroll, nearly 6,000 of the government’s 300,000 strong were found to be ‘ghost workers’ – and promptly removed from the system.