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January is always a good time to look back, take stock, and make plans. And 2021, while a complicated year, was in no way uneventful. Across CEE, we’ve had lawyers and law firms variously reporting on – besides the obvious pandemic-related restrictions and increased work flexibility – a record year for M&A transactions, growing green energy, effervescent capital markets, a surprisingly solid real estate sector, ascendant ESG practices, a renewed focus on infrastructure, and TMT going from strength to strength.

Practicing IP has always been a tricky matter, given the complexity and the diversity of this area of law. We reached out to experts from several IP-focused law firms – Hungary’s SBGK, Serbia’s Petosevic Group, and Greece’s Drakopoulos – to learn more about their origins, specializations, structures, and operations.

The legal profession in Greece has changed and been upgraded in recent years in the context of providing legal services and support across a spectrum of economic, social, and technological developments. Modern lawyering is directly linked to the needs of the client in very specific areas (such as economy, energy, health, immigration, personal data, and artificial intelligence). In the past 30 years, Greece has witnessed the establishment of the institution of law firms, the transition to a new era of cooperative action, and the gradual abandonment of the legal office as the sole dominant model of legal practice. Law firms that form a structured group and provide a comprehensive package of services operate in a dynamic manner, evolving in line with market requirements. This is also a guarantee for young lawyers who seek better working conditions, remuneration, and career prospects.

Almost ten years ago, in 2012, major changes were introduced in Hungarian employment law, including a new Employment Code. The updated rules had a significant impact on market practice and, consequently, on the volume of employment litigation. The latter number was further influenced, however, by the new Code of Civil Procedure, which came into effect in January 2018. In this article, we offer insight and explanation for the possible causes of the decreasing number of employment lawsuits.

Picture a situation where a company divests a part of its business to create a new company. Employees are transferred to the spin-off company too. Based on Article 75 of the Employment Relationship Act (ZDR-1), the provisions on the transfer of an undertaking (change of employer) then apply. The article governs the joint and several liability of both the transferor and transferee company; however, it limits liability solely to the claims of employees who were actually transferred.

Digitalization and technology have seen incredible evolutions over the past years worldwide. This development has fostered the perfect environment for the gig economy to be able to sustain incredible growth. Short-term working agreements between companies and workers, which are paid after every undertaken task, are at the foundation of the gig economy and they seem to be more popular with every passing day. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to have been yet another factor that allowed this market sector to reach new heights, with more and more people turning to online platforms as an additional source of income. These people are generally labeled as ‘platform workers.’

As the COVID-19 pandemic globally swept away the business-as-usual concept, many countries, including Croatia, were faced with a rising problem of workplace-based COVID-19 transmissions. Croatia had a remote work (RW) framework initially introduced in 2003, but its application in practice was considered rather exotic. Once RW became one of the main workplace-related responses to COVID-19, authorities and employers were suddenly faced with interpretation and implementation problems. As a temporary solution, the Ministry of Labor and Pension System (Ministry) issued a number of opinions regarding the RW regime. These opinions were intended to loosen the regulatory grip, usually by turning a blind eye to unambiguous and mandatory statutory requirements, for example, by interpreting that a pandemic constitutes such circumstances under which employers are allowed to unilaterally impose a RW regime.

Since 2020, employers and employees in the Czech Republic, as well as elsewhere, have been preoccupied with issues relating to COVID-19, not least the employees’ testing, quarantines, or vaccination. It is without question that the pandemic has left its footprint on the Czech labor market and provided an impetus to many current trends. Looking beyond the pandemic, this article will focus on the development of the Czech employment market in a post-COVID-19 world and the role that Czech employment law will play in it.

Based on the new Act on Support During Short-Time Work, also known as Kurzarbeit, the employers’ new permanent support scheme will apply as of January 1, 2022, in Slovakia. The basic aim of the new regulation is to compensate employers financially for temporary loss of working hours and thereby preserve employment. Kurzarbeit can be applied if an employer is forced to reduce its operational activities due to temporary external factors beyond its control that have a negative economic impact on its business, particularly the declaration of a state of emergency, state of crisis, or force majeure. Furthermore, the Kurzarbeit allowance applies only in case at least one-third of the employer’s workforce is not assigned work for at least 10% of their working hours.

Three of the world’s most influential institutions have established expert teams to gather as much data as possible in order to make sense of the nature of the changes currently affecting the global labor market. Many law firms are already on board and are implementing strategies that will meet these changes head-on.

In 2012, the Bulgarian Parliament introduced statutory rules regarding the activities of temporary staffing enterprises (TSAs). Before that, their existence and operations were recognized and tolerated in practice, but their activities took place in a legal vacuum.

On November 17, 2021, the Infectious Diseases Commission of North Macedonia proposed anti-COVID-19 measures requiring unvaccinated healthcare professionals and public sector employees to be vaccinated and recommending the vaccination of private-sector employees. The form of the measures could differ somewhat from this proposal; the definite measures, however, are expected to be adopted soon.

One of the most important inventions of the 21st century is undoubtedly the COVID-19 vaccine, with respect to its affirmative effect on public health. Before its invention, humanity had been battling a substantial rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, and the vaccine managed to raise hopes of controlling the pandemic. Likewise, Turkey, especially the Turkish Ministry of Health, has taken a lot of steps towards having individuals become more conscious of the importance of vaccination, in an effort to decrease the number of cases. Recently, the total number of shots administered has reached more than 119 million.

More than 15 years ago, when I graduated from law school in Romania, there were few opportunities for a young lawyer. You could either be an apprentice for a senior lawyer, your ‘master’ as they were called, trying to ‘steal know-how’ from anywhere you could, or, for the luckier ones, you could be employed by one of the only two business consulting law firms that were on the market – a national one and the only international law firm – Linklaters. I was one of the lucky ones. I passed my bar exam and started working as a junior lawyer in the latter. And thus, my journey as a CEE lawyer began.

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