5 Weird Employment Laws from Around the World

Small business owners – you have to smarten up. We are doing business in challenging times: Disheartening economic situation, unfavourable policies and regulations, and lawsuits which lurk behind our back.

To put cherry on top – employment laws.

funny hat law
Wearing funny hat in the workplace may be considered as partial strike, which is violating employment law in certain countries.

When you are hiring people to help you run your business, whether you like it or not, you need to focus on employment law. The laws are passed for a reason: It’s to govern the relationship between employees, employers and union.

With regard to your relationship with your employees, individual employment law takes place to mediate your relationship, usually in the form of employment contracts.

It sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, in practice, things are not as good as it sounds. The world of employment law is dark and murky – and sometimes, funny. Even some laws will leave you scratching your head.

Here are 5 strange and weird employment laws from around the world you should know about:

1. Bathroom break law in the U.S.

Did you know that the United States’ Department of Labour has no law guaranteeing employees’ rights to frequent bathroom breaks? So employers can – technically – prohibit you from going to the bathroom too often. Luckily, employers are still using common sense when laying down the rules (source.)

2. No guys in women’s-only stores in Saudi Arabia

From the same source, it’s reported that, since 2012, there is a new employment law in Saudi Arabia which prevents men from working in shops selling women’s clothing or cosmetics. The reason? Women don’t feel comfortable buying those products from men.

3. You can’t fire an employee in Portugal

Also from the same source – Portugal is an employee’s heaven, it seems. Indeed, in Portugal, employers can’t dismiss employees – there is no termination period in the country’s employment law. You need to offer a decent resignation package, beg them to leave and – hopefully – the employees won’t make a fuss about it.

4. UK: You must pay to sue your boss

In July 2013, a new employment law, which stir protests around the country, come into force: In the UK, workers will need to pay GBP1,200 just to take employers to court. “Today is a great day for Britain’s worst bosses,” say General Secretary Frances O’Grady (source.)

5. Wear a funny hat in New Zealand and lose at least 10% of your pay

In New Zealand, the employment law says that employers can cut employees’ pay by at least 10% for doing a partial strike. Unfortunately, it’s not always the partial strike you may assume: You don’t have to protest on anything to get fined. Wearing a funny hat for fun can be interpreted as breaking the uniform code and can result in a 10% pay cut (source.)


As weird as they may sound, as an employer or employee, you need to be aware of your local employment law. Even a small, seemingly insignificant, action you do in the workplace can lead to a bigger problem – even a lawsuit.

As always, this article is for informational purpose only. You should talk about employment law in depth with your trusted lawyers.

Have you heard about other interesting and weird employment laws? Please share them with us!