Protection of workers around the globe

Protecting your workers not only makes your company more sustainable, it also publishes a reputation of care. Review the latest legislation in Asia Pacific, the US, and Europe for safeguarding the health of employees in the workplace. 

Headshot – Yujing Pan Headshot – Beatriz García Fernández Viagas

by Yujing Pan, Beatriz García Fernández-Viagas

Employees have a right to feel safe and healthy at work and businesses have a responsibility to provide an environment where their workers are protected. Not only is this more sustainable – continuously recruiting new employees to replace unsatisfied workers costs time and money – it also positions the business in a compassionate light, promoting the wellbeing and safety of employees as a top priority.  

Around the world, companies exploit their workers, demanding extensive hours with little pay, or laborious tasks in strenuous conditions. Recently, in Australia, India, the United States, and the EU, new legislation has been released concerning the health and safety of workers.

Asia Pacific

Review the latest developments in Australia and India. Levels of protection vary by region, with the social culture and history of each country dictating the type of regulatory changes proposed.

Electrical safety 

Victoria: The Energy Legislation Amendment (Energy Safety) Act 2023 was passed into law. As of 16 May 2024, companies operating complex electrical installations – an installed generation capacity of more than 1000 kilovolt-amps or an electric line on land that is not owned or leased by the operator – and declared operators must actively work to minimize hazards and risks to others. The Act doesn’t provide any guidance on preventative measures that organizations can implement, but facilities who fail to comply will be subject to a heavy fine.  

Queensland: A proposal which aims to change the state’s electrical safety regime has been released. The government is urging companies to respond to the following: 

  • Electrical safety considerations of new and emerging technologies 
  • The changing landscape of electricity and the workforce 
  • Electrical safety and electric vehicles 

These three areas are not well regulated in Queensland’s current electrical safety laws. The government is considering modifying several of the terms and definitions in the Electrical Safety Act 2002, namely ‘electrical equipment’ and ‘electrical installation’ to include new energy generation technologies. Further, there are plans for expended definition of “electrical work”, increased supervision requirements for certain electrical activities and licensing requirements for those who work on electric vehicles.  

To encourage transparent communication between Queensland’s government and the relevant stakeholders, alternatives have been proposed for the above legislative changes.

Working hours 

Tamil Nadu: Establishments, such as offices, warehouses, and shops, must continue to comply with the conditions related to working hours, if they wish to operate all days of the year until 23 March 2026. The maximum regular working hours for employees are 8 hours a day and 48 hours per week, or 10 hours a day and 50 hours a week including overtime. Transportation must also be provided for female workers whose hours are between 20:00 and 6:00, as well as written consent from the female worker. Further, Tamil Nadu requires such companies to establish an internal committee to protect employees from sexual harassment.  

Telangana: In Telangana, similar legislation has been put forward until 15 June 2025. Again, workers can only operate a maximum of 8 hours a day and 48 hours a week. Transportation must be provided for female workers with shifts after 20:30. 


Review the latest developments in the United States, where legislation is prioritizing mental health and workplace environments.


Workplace environment 

From 1 January 2024, companies with over 100 employees in relevant industries must submit injury and illness information from OSHA Forms 300 and 301 once a year. This will lead to more transparency for OSHA on injuries in relevant high-hazard industries, thus producing invaluable health and safety data to target the most vulnerable workers. 

Further, OSHA’s National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Outdoor and Indoor heat-related hazards is still in effect, provoking increased inspections from Federal OSHA on business environments.   

Washington: Companies with employees who work outside are subject to outdoor heat exposure requirements year-round, under the amended Outdoor Heat Exposure rules, with a focus on access to shade and acclimatization. 

Arizona: The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) has developed a State Emphasis Program (SEP) aimed at reducing heat-related illnesses at work. Under this, manufacturing, construction, and other companies with outdoor employees are subject to inspections. 

Mental health 

New proposals concerning working hours and workloads have been proposed to address employee wellbeing.  

Federal: A bill to reduce the standard workweek from 40 hours to 32 hours was introduced but has not come to fruition. 

Massachusetts: Proposed a bill to create a four-day working week pilot program. This bill is still currently under consideration.  

New York: State regulations surrounding the workload for warehouse workers have been proposed, requiring warehouses to provide quotas to workers and ensure adequate time for breaks, meals, and bathroom access. Further, employees cannot be punished for taking breaks under this new regime.  

Washington: The state adopted a similar bill to New York’s proposal, coming into effect 1 July 2024.  

Similar proposals have been made by Alaska and Connecticut.


The protection of workers continues to be a priority in Europe, with many EU countries putting forward legislation on mental health risks and heat-related injuries, much like the US.

Mental health 

In June 2023, the European Commission approved its communication on a comprehensive approach to mental health, intending to announce an EU-level initiative on the psychosocial risks in the medium term. Following the Commission’s communication, the Council published in November 2023 recommendations addressed to the EU Member States on how to promote mental health and wellbeing in their territories. In December 2023, the European Parliament adopted its first report on mental health, stressing the need to prevent mental health conditions and to identify vulnerable groups. 

The ‘right to disconnect’ (2021) initiative is still awaiting updates from the Commission.  

Belgium: Belgium has issued a voluntary questionnaire for companies to assess psychosocial risks at work. 

Denmark: Non-binding guidance has been published for companies to identify when workers are exposed to high-emotional demands and to prevent risks to their health.  

Luxembourg: In June, Luxembourg adopted a new legislation, which requires all employers to develop a scheme guaranteeing the right to disconnect outside working hours. This is being enacted from July 2024.  

Bulgaria: A proposal was published in September 2023, implementing the right to disconnect for remote workers, permitting employees to disconnect from all electronic communication during regulated breaks and outside working hours.

Workplace environment 

New and unprecedented weather changes in Europe are forcing businesses to evaluate their workplace environment and conditions, particularly for employees working outside in heatwaves.  

Italy: New guidance has been issued to provide additional measures for the safe execution of outdoor and indoor work in high temperatures, with a recently published proposal mandating that companies take into account heat waves and the health effects instigated by long hours in extreme temperatures. 

Portugal: A new proposal could arrange shorter working hours for employees who work outside or in hot temperatures.

Protection of workers

If you’re interested in fostering a safe and healthy culture for your employees, dive deeper into some of our other blogs on mental and physical health in the workplace.