Employment Law General Update –  July 2023

This month there has been a lot of movement in rights at work – with a new jobs ‘passport’ for injured or disabled veterans, a private member’s bill to bring in a definition of ‘bullying’ at work, a consultation launched on the Disability Action Plan, the government’s response to the ethnicity pay reporting consultation and ACAS is consulting on a new draft Code of Practice to cover flexible working requests. There is also a consultation from the DBT on the future of the labour market enforcement strategy and ACAS’s latest annual report on how much it is needed.

  • Labour Market: MoD and DWP announce new jobs ‘passport’ for injured or disabled veterans
  • Labour Market: DBT launches consultation on Labour Market Enforcement Strategy for 2024 to 2025
  • Disability: DWP launches consultation on proposals for Disability Action Plan
  • ACAS: New consultation published on new draft Code of Practice on flexible work requests
  • ACAS: Annual ACAS report for 2022 to 2023 reveals dispute resolution ever necessary

Labour Market: MoD and DWP announce new jobs ‘passport’ for injured or disabled veterans

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced a new Adjustment Passports scheme to help smooth the way for injured or disabled Armed Forces to re-enter civilian work life. This scheme aims to remove barriers to the labour market by providing a transferable record of workplace adjustments, removing Access to Work assessments and reassessments, thus unlocking a pool of talent for employers and businesses to assist in economy growth. Guidance for the scheme has also been published.

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Labour Market: DBT launches consultation on Labour Market Enforcement Strategy for 2024 to 2025

The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) has published a consultation seeking responses to assist the Director of Labour Market Enforcement, Margaret Beels, in putting together the labour market enforcement strategy for 2024-25. The role of Director of Labour Market Enforcement was created in 2017 to bring together a coherent assessment of the extent of labour market exploitation, identifying routes to tackle exploitation and harnessing the strength of the three main enforcement bodies: HMRC National Minimum Wage; the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA); and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS).

Each year the Director submits a Labour Market Enforcement Strategy to Government to set priorities for the three main enforcement bodies.

Both the interim DLME Strategy 2022 to 2023 (published in March 2023) and the full DLME Strategy for 2023 to 2024 (awaiting clearance from government) proposed four themes as a structure for thinking about identifying and tackling labour market non-compliance. These four themes are:

  1. Improving the radar picture to have a better understanding of the non-compliance threat.
  2. Improving focus and effectiveness of the compliance and enforcement work of the three bodies under my remit
  3. Better Joined-up Thinking to minimise the opportunities for exploitation of gaps in employment protection.
  4. Improving engagement with employers and support for workers

The DLME Strategy for 2024 to 2025 will continue to build on these themes and this call for evidence seeks information about a number of these areas and provides an opportunity for respondents to draw to our attention evidence that they have of other areas where they observe significant risk of worker exploitation.

The consultation closes on 8 September 2023.

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Rights at Work: Parliament introduces bill to define bullying at work

Labour MP Rachael Maskell recently introduced a Private Members’ Bill to define workplace bullying and introduce legal duties on employers to prevent it, and it passed its first reading in Parliament on 11 July 2023.

She cited research from the Trades Union Congress in 2019 that estimated one quarter of employees are bullied at work, with most people who say they are bullied never reporting it. Maskell told the House of Commons. ‘There’s no legal definition, no legal protection, no legal route to justice, and without protection, many will leave their employer’.

If adopted, the Bill would provide a legal definition of ‘bullying’ in the workplace for the first time in the UK. Employees would be able to bring bullying claims to an employment tribunal and employers that fail to implement a statutory ‘respect at work code’ would face sanctions. The Equality and Human Rights Commission would also have powers to investigate systemic bullying damaging workplace cultures.

Maskell said the Bill would mean the definition of bullying by the workplace mediator ACAS as ‘offensive, intimidating, malicious, insulting or humiliating behaviour’ would be extended into statute and the usual method of determining compensation for injury to feelings would be applied. But its main goal is establishing a minimum standard for workplace conduct and discouraging managers who use their power over colleagues to ‘denigrate and destroy’, Maskell said.

The Bill follows bullying claims against former Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, who resigned after an investigation found he had belittled staffers. Lawyers said at the time that the lack of a legal definition of bullying made it hard but necessary to set expectations around workplace conduct.

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Disability: DWP launches consultation on proposals for Disability Action Plan

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has launched a consultation on the government’s Disability Action Plan. The plan involves raising awareness of technology for disabled people, mandatory disability awareness training for taxi drivers, autism-friendly programmes for cultural and heritage sites and ensuring businesses are aware of disabled people’s needs. The plan is designed to make the UK a more inclusive society in the long term and to facilitate immediate and practical measures to improve disabled people’s lives for the better. The consultation will close on 6 October 2023.

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Ethnicity Pay Reporting: Government publishes response to ethnicity pay reporting consultation

The UK government has published a response to the ethnicity pay reporting consultation which aimed to gather views on what information should be reported, who should report it, and the next steps for consistent and transparent reporting. The government has concluded that, while ethnicity pay gap reporting can be a valuable tool to assist employers, it may not always be the most appropriate mechanism for every type of employer. Therefore, the government has confirmed that, as set out in the ‘Inclusive Britain’ report in 2022, it will not be legislating to make ethnicity pay reporting mandatory at this stage. Instead, the government has produced guidance (which was published in April 2023) to support employers who wish to report voluntarily.

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ACAS: New consultation published on new draft Code of Practice on flexible work requests

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has published a consultation on a new draft Code of Practice on handling flexible working requests. The new draft code is aimed at addressing the significant changes in ways of working since the current ACAS code was published in 2014. It is also designed to take into account anticipated changes to the Employment Rights Act 1996 around flexible working. The consultation closes at 11:59pm on 6 September 2023.

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ACAS: Annual ACAS report for 2022 to 2023 reveals dispute resolution ever necessary

ACAS has published its annual report for 2022 to 2023, revealing a greater demand for its dispute resolution services. Key facts and figures include highlighted in this year’s report include:

  • ACAS’s intervention in 621 collective disputes between employers and groups of workers, a 22% increase to the previous year
  • 105,754 notifications for early conciliation and ACAS staff finding a resolution in over 72,000 cases
  • over 14.4 million visits to the ACAS website
  • 649,179 calls from employers and employees across Great Britain to the ACAS helpline

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Further Information:

If you would like any additional information, please contact Anne-Marie Pavitt or Sophie Banks on: hello@dixcartuk.com

The information provided within this document is for general informational purposes only. While every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy, no responsibility can be accepted for inaccuracies. Readers are advised that laws and practices may change over time. This document is provided solely for informational purposes and does not constitute accounting, legal, or tax advice. Professional advice should be sought before making any decisions based on the contents of this document.