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
- Rights at Work: Parliament introduces bill to define bullying at work
- Disability: DWP launches consultation on proposals for Disability Action Plan
- Ethnicity Pay Reporting: Government publishes response to ethnicity pay reporting consultation
- 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.
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:
- Improving the radar picture to have a better understanding of the non-compliance threat.
- Improving focus and effectiveness of the compliance and enforcement work of the three bodies under my remit
- Better Joined-up Thinking to minimise the opportunities for exploitation of gaps in employment protection.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
If you would like any additional information, please contact Anne-Marie Pavitt or Sophie Banks on: firstname.lastname@example.org
This month’s news provides an update on the effect of the Retained EU Law Bill and the scrapping of the sunset clause, a new smart regulation from the DBT, a report on the post-pandemic economic growth in the UK labour markets, new guidance from ACAS on both managing stress at work and making reasonable adjustments for mental health at work, a new podcast from the HSE to support disabled people in the workplace and a consultation from the EBA on the benchmarking of diversity practices. Lastly, we have the results of research carried out on unfair treatment of parents following fertility treatment.
- Brexit: Government scraps the proposed sunset clause from the Retained EU Law Bill and Minister confirms effect of the Bill on equality and employment rights
- Employment Law: Department for Business and Trade – Smart regulation unveiled to cut red tape and grow the economy
- Flexible Working: House of Commons Committee report on post-pandemic economic growth in UK labour markets
- Health at Work: ACAS publishes new guidance on managing stress at work and making reasonable adjustments for mental health at work
- Disability: HSE launches podcast to support disabled people in the workplace
- Diversity: EBA publishes consultation on guidance on benchmarking of diversity practices
- Sex Discrimination: Research reveals unfair treatment at work after fertility treatment
Brexit: Government scraps the proposed sunset clause from the Retained EU Law Bill and Minister confirms effect of the Bill on equality and employment rights
On 10 May 2023, the government announced that it will scrap the proposed sunset clause from the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill. As we have previously reported in our Employment Law News, the sunset clause would have meant that most retained EU law in secondary legislation would have been revoked at the end of 2023. Instead at least 600 pieces of retained EU law will be set out in a revocation schedule, which can be found here. Any laws not listed in the revocation schedule will be retained automatically.
Meanwhile, the Department for Business and Trade has published a response to a letter by the Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, requesting further explanation about the Retained EU Law Bill’s effect on equality rights and protections. The response by the Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch MP, Minister for Women & Equalities, confirms that the Retained EU Law Bill does not intend to undermine equality rights and protections, employment rights or maternity rights in the UK. It sets out that most equality protections will remain unaffected, as they are provided for in primary legislation, in particular the Equality Act 2010 (to which no changes are expected because of the Bill) and any relevant secondary legislation and additional instruments will be considered.
It also highlights that where additional provision is required, the Bill enables the UK Government and the devolved governments to protect the rights and protections of UK citizens. This includes a restatement power which allows departments to codify rights into domestic legislation. The response emphasises that this power will secure rights and protections, by laying them out accessibly and clearly in statute.
The response sets out that the government does not intend to amend workers’ legal rights through the Bill, that the UK provides for greater protections for workers than are required by EU law and that the government remains committed to making sure that workers are properly protected in the workplace.
The response emphasises that the repeal of maternity rights is not and has never been government policy, and that the UK is in fact further along than the EU when it comes to maternity rights.
Employment Law: Government’s “Smart regulation unveiled to cut red tape and grow the economy”
On the 10 May 2023 the Department for Business and Trade published its paper “Smarter regulation unveiled to cut red tape and grow the economy” which the government describes as “the first dynamic package of deregulatory reforms to grow the economy, cut costs for businesses and support consumers …”
The governments announcements include the following proposed amendments to employment law:
- The government is proposing to remove retained EU case law that requires employers to record working hours for almost all.
- Making rolled-up holiday pay lawful. Rolled up holiday pay is where an employer includes a sum representing holiday pay in an enhanced hourly rate rather than continuing to pay workers as normal when they actually take leave. This was ruled to be in breach of the Working Time Directive by the ECJ well over a decade ago.
- The merger of annual leave (20 days derived from the EU’s Working Time Directive) and additional leave (being the additional 8 days holiday provided under the Working Time Regulations). Whilst this appears to be sensible it will be interesting to see how the European case law which specifically applies to the 20 days annual leave, such as what constitutes holiday pay and taking such holiday in the year in which it falls, is dealt with.
- TUPE – there are proposals to do away with the need for elections of employee representatives for businesses with fewer than 50 employees or transfers of fewer than 10 employees.
The government has launched consultation on these points.
The government has also proposed limiting the length of non-compete clauses to three months. This will require the passing of legislation, which, the government says will be dealt with when parliamentary time allows.
So we wait to see exactly what legislative changes come about following these announcements.
Flexible Working: House of Commons Committee report on post-pandemic economic growth in UK labour markets
A House of Commons Committee report says the government must reconsider the need for an Employment Bill in the upcoming King’s Speech to address gaps in employment protections. The government has two months to respond to the committee’s proposals which are on topics including the machinery of government with responsibility for labour market policy; technology and skills development; workers’ rights and protection; and older workers.
The report, which follows on from a Call for Evidence on the state of play in the UK Labour market post-Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, highlights that:
- with 500,000 people having left the British workforce since the start of the pandemic, a shortage of labour weighs heavily on the potential for economic growth;
- economic inactivity has risen among people aged 50 to 64 years;
- the way in which the recommendations of the Taylor Review have been implemented has been fragmented and drawn-out;
- the enforcement of labour market rules is under-resourced.
It calls on the government to:
- consider establishing a Ministry of Labour and appoint a new Minister of State for Labour in the Cabinet, as well as a Cabinet Committee on Labour;
- take various actions in respect of technology and skills;
- reconsider the need for an Employment Bill in the upcoming King’s Speech to address gaps in employment protections;
- consider new legal structures for flexible work that include appropriate rights and protections for workers;
- provide more protection for workers from any damaging effects of night-time working;
- pursue the creation of the planned single enforcement body which would clarify rights of redress for those most in need;
- continue and expand support for older workers.
It also calls on businesses to:
- be more open to create more flexible constructions of work;
- offer more flexible working opportunities to benefit from a huge untapped pool of older workers and to assess whether their recruitment practices and workplaces are ‘ageist’.
Health at Work: ACAS publishes new guidance on managing stress at work and making reasonable adjustments for mental health at work
Managing stress at work:
ACAS has published new advice for employers on managing stress at work after YouGov revealed 33% of British workers disagreed that their organisation was effective at managing work-related stress. YouGov was commissioned by ACAS and surveyed just over 1,000 employees in Great Britain. ACAS sets out that stress can be caused by demands of the job, relationships at work, poor working conditions and life events outside of work such as financial worries. An ACAS poll in March 2023 revealed that 63% of employees felt stressed due to the rising cost of living.
Advice for employers on managing stress at work include:
- looking out for any signs of stress among staff. Signs include poor concentration, tiredness, low mood and avoiding social events;
- being approachable available and have an informal chat with staff who are feeling stressed;
- respecting confidentiality and being sensitive and supportive when talking to staff about work-related stress;
- communicating any internal and external help available to staff such as financial advice if the cost of living is a cause of stress.
ACAS states that creating a positive work environment can make employees healthier and happier at work, reduce absence levels and improve performance.
ACAS advice on managing stress can be accessed here.
Making reasonable adjustments for mental health at work:
ACAS has published new guidance for employers and workers on reasonable adjustments for mental health. ACAS states that ‘employers should try to make reasonable adjustments even if the issue is not a disability’. The guidance covers:
- what reasonable adjustments for mental health are;
- examples of reasonable adjustments for mental health;
- what reasonable adjustments can be made for mental health;
- requesting reasonable adjustments for mental health;
- responding to reasonable adjustments for mental health requests;
- managing employees with reasonable adjustments for mental health;
- reviewing policies with mental health in mind.
ACAS has also published case studies exploring how different organisations have helped staff with reasonable adjustments for mental health.
Disability: HSE launches podcast to support disabled people in the workplace
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a new podcast aiming to help employers support disabled workers and those with long-term health conditions in the workplace. The podcast features discussion by host Mick Ord, former BBC Radio journalist, Moya Woolley, Occupational Health Policy Team Leader at HSE and Rebecca Hyrslova, Policy Advisor at Federation of Small Businesses (FSB); and offers advice for employers on how to create a supportive and enabling workplace, take an inclusive approach to workplace health, understand the work barriers that impact on workers, make suitable workplace adjustments or modifications, develop skills, knowledge and understanding, use effective and accessible communication, and support sickness absence and return to work.
Diversity: EBA publishes consultation on guidance on benchmarking of diversity practices
The European Banking Authority (EBA) has launched a consultation on guidelines on the benchmarking of diversity practices including diversity policies and the gender pay gap pursuant to Articles 75(1) and 91(11) of the Capital Requirements Directive IV (Directive 2013/36/EU) (CRD IV) and Article 34(1) of the Investment Firms Directive (Directive (EU) 2019/2034). The EBA has been collecting data on diversity since 2015 based on information requests. The EBA hopes that the issuance of these guidelines will lead to a higher level of transparency regarding the EBA’s work on the topic of diversity and gender equality and will help improve the quality of the collected data as well as the awareness of all stakeholders on these topics. The new reporting format is expected to apply for the collection of data in 2025 for the financial year 2024. Responses are sought to the consultation by 24 July 2023.
Sex Discrimination: Research reveals unfair treatment at work after fertility treatment
Pregnant Then Screwed published a press release during Infertility Awareness Week revealing the unfair treatment women face in the workplace due to their reproductive health. Research has revealed that of the 43% of women who informed their employer of their fertility treatment, one in four did not receive any support from their employer. One in four women also experienced unfair treatment because of undergoing fertility treatment. Unfair treatment was also experienced by 22% of women who disclosed their pregnancy loss to their employer while 6% of partners who disclosed the same faced negative treatment.
The press release confirms Pregnant Then Screwed will be launching a new programme to help employers deal with reproductive health issues in the workplace better. They will be hosting a Women in the Workplace seminar for businesses to find out more about the new training and accreditation scheme which signals fertility friendly employers. This free event will take place in June 2023.
If you would like any additional information, please contact Anne-Marie Pavitt or Sophie Banks on: email@example.com
A lot going on this month. New rates and consultations regarding NLW and NMW, new requirement for immigration scale-up route, an update on the Retained EU Law Bill and discussions over the definition of ‘sex’ under the Equality Act. Meanwhile, there is a review into whistleblowing law, an inquiry into seasonal worker visas, a blog on loneliness in the workplace, and a review relating to the work prospects of autistic people.
- Staff Pay: Changes to rates of National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage and 2023 consultations
- Whistleblowing: Government launches whistleblowing law review
- Immigration: Home Office publishes details of a new endorsement requirement for the Scale-up route
- Immigration: MAC Chair publishes letter regarding inquiry into Seasonal Worker visa
- Welfare: Glassdoor reveals survey findings on employee loneliness
- Disability: DWP publishes new review to increase work prospects of autistic people
- Disability: Commons briefing highlights lowest rates of employment among disabled people are for those on autism spectrum
- Brexit: An update on the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill
- Equality Act: EHRC respond to Minister’s request to clarify the definition of ‘sex’
Staff Pay: Changes to rates of National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage and 2023 consultations
SI 2023/354: These Regulations are made to amend the National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015, SI 2015/621. They come into force on 1 April 2023 and increase:
- the rate of the national living wage for workers who are aged 23 or over from £9.50 to £10.42 per hour
- the rate of the national minimum wage for workers who are aged 21 or over (but not yet aged 23) from £9.18 to £10.18 per hour
- the rate of the national minimum wage for workers who are aged 18 or over (but not yet aged 21) from £6.83 to £7.49 per hour
- the rate of the national minimum wage for workers who are under the age of 18 from £4.81 to £5.28 per hour
- the rate for apprentices within SI 2015/621, reg 5(1)(a) and (b) from £4.81 to £5.28 per hour
- the accommodation offset amount which is applicable where any employer provides a worker with living accommodation from £8.70 to £9.10 for each day that accommodation is provided
The Low Pay Commission (LPC) has published a consultation seeking views on the impact of National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) increases for 2024. The NLW is expected to rise to between £10.90 and £11.43 in 2024. The information gathered will be used to inform the LPC’s recommendations to the government in the Autumn. The consultation closes on 9 June 2023 at 11:45pm.
See also our updated Facts and Figures for 2023
Whistleblowing: Government launches whistleblowing law review
On 27 March 2023, the government published a press release confirming that they have launched a review of the whistleblowing framework. The press release states that the review will gather evidence on the effectiveness of the current whistleblowing regime in enabling workers to speak about wrongdoing and protect those who do so. The press release confirms that the evidence gathering stage of the review will end in Autumn 2023. The review will pursue views and evidence from whistleblowers, key charities, employers and regulators.
Immigration: Home Office publishes details of a new endorsement requirement for the Scale-up route
The Home Office has updated its sponsor guidance in relation to the Scale-up route. Notably, it confirms that an ‘endorsing body pathway’ is being launched, on 13 April 2023, for prospective employer applicants who do not meet the sponsor licence eligibility requirements (eg ‘if their HMRC history is not long enough’). As an alternative, prospective sponsors will be able to obtain an endorsement from a Home Office-approved endorsing body and submit this with the licence application (which must be made no more than three months from the date of endorsement). The guidance confirms that the endorsement process will attract a fee, and further details will be published in due course. Other changes include a new Annex SC2, setting out the changes to the route from 12 April 2023, in line with the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules HC 1160.
Immigration: MAC Chair publishes letter regarding inquiry into Seasonal Worker visa
The Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), Professor Brian Bell, has published a letter written to the Minister of State for Immigration, Robert Jenrick, regarding an inquiry into the Seasonal Worker visa. The inquiry will consider the rules under which the scheme operates, the size and costs of the scheme, the potential for exploitation and poor labour market practice, evidence from international comparisons and the long-run need for such a scheme. Bell has also confirmed that MAC will be working with the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) during the inquiry.
Welfare: Glassdoor reveals survey findings on employee loneliness
Glassdoor has published a blog with insights from its new study which surveyed 2,000 employees to understand the levels of employee loneliness in the UK. The blog reveals the impact of poor workplace social life and the importance of workplace friendships to retaining staff.
Key findings include:
- six in ten people with less than five years of work experience are lonely all or most of the time
- only 51% of employees connect socially with colleagues at least once a month
- 28% of workers under 35 would stay in a job they did not like if the workplace social life was good
- 89% of workers believe feeling a sense of belonging with their company is vital to their overall workplace happiness
- nearly 49% of workers say a good social life has a significant impact on their overall job satisfaction and mental health
Common reasons for workplace loneliness include less in-person interaction with co-workers, inflexibility in the workplace, and a lack of focus on creating a sense of belonging or community by an employer.
Glassdoor reveals that without a good workplace social life, workers are more likely to be less productive and engaged. They are also more likely to experience stress, anxiety and eventually burnout.
Disability: DWP publishes new review to increase work prospects of autistic people
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), supported by the autism charity Autistica, has launched a review, the Buckland Review of Autism Employment, to increase the employment prospects of autistic people. The review, which will be led by Sir Robert Buckland KC MP and start in May 2023, will consider how the government can support employers to recruit and retain autistic people and enjoy the benefits of a neurodiverse workforce. Recommendations for change will be made to the Secretary of State in September 2023.
Disability: Commons briefing highlights lowest rates of employment among disabled people are for those on autism spectrum
The House of Commons has released a research briefing on autism, policy and services. The briefing sets out the Department for Work and Pensions’ annual set of statistics on the employment of disabled people, which reports that the lowest rates of employment among disabled people are those on the autism spectrum.
In the 2020–21 financial year, 26.5% of disabled people on the autism spectrum were in employment, compared to 52.5% of all disabled people and 80.4% of non-disabled people in the same period. In 2016, the National Autistic Society reported that 77% of unemployed people with autism wanted to work.
Brexit: An update on the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill
Retained EU law is a concept created by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. This Act took a ‘snapshot’ of EU law as it applied to the UK at the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020 and provided for it to continue to apply in domestic law. The Bill would automatically revoke, or ‘sunset’, most retained EU law at the end of 2023. This would not apply to retained EU law that is domestic primary legislation.
Ministers and devolved authorities could exempt most (but not all) retained EU law from the sunset, and UK ministers (but not devolved authorities) could delay the sunset until 23 June 2026 at the latest for specific descriptions of retained EU law. Any retained EU law that still applied after the end of 2023 would be renamed as assimilated law. The Bill would give ministers and devolved authorities powers to restate, reproduce, revoke, replace or update retained EU law and assimilated law by statutory instrument.
The Bill would also repeal the principle of supremacy of retained EU law from UK law at the end of 2023, although its effects could be reproduced by statutory instrument in relation to specific pieces of retained EU law. The Bill would also make changes to the way that courts could depart from retained EU case law.
The Bill would change the way that some types of retained EU law can be modified. It would ‘downgrade’ retained direct EU legislation so that this could be amended by secondary legislation. It would also remove additional parliamentary scrutiny requirements that currently apply when modifying some types of EU-derived domestic secondary legislation.
The government has published a ‘dashboard’ of retained EU law, although it acknowledges this is not a comprehensive catalogue of all retained EU law that may be in scope of the Bill. The dashboard is due to be updated regularly.
Concerns have been raised throughout the Bill’s progress about the amount of retained EU law to be reviewed before the sunset deadline and whether some may end up being revoked inadvertently. In the Commons, MPs expressed concerns about the impact of large-scale and rapid changes to the statute book as a consequence of the Bill and have highlighted a lack of clarity about what retained EU law the government intends to keep, particularly in the areas of employment, environmental and consumer protections. They were also critical of a lack of parliamentary scrutiny of and input into the process of reforming retained EU law. However, the only amendments made to the Bill in the House of Commons were government amendments to clarify the Bill’s drafting.
The Bill is now with the House of Lords. Five days of Committee proceedings—when a Bill is examined in detail—concluded on 8 March 2023.
Over the five days, Peers put forward many amendments to the Bill on a range of subjects. Opposition peers were scathing in their comments on the Bill. For example, Baroness Ludford (LD), said the Bill was ‘pretty hopeless’ and accused the government of adopting a ‘slash and burn’ approach to legislative reform, with opposition amendments seeking to bring to it ‘some rationalisation and order’. For the government, Lord Callanan, said, on the contrary, a ‘significant minority’ of retained EU law was ‘legally inoperable’ and that it was ‘not good governance’ to subject it to ‘complex and unnecessary parliamentary processes’ before being able to remove it from the statute book. He added that the amendments, including those seeking to delay the sunset, would ‘hamper efforts to realise the opportunities the Bill presents’.
The Bill has come out of Committee stage in the Lords with amendments, including the insertion of a new clause setting out exceptions to the sunset of REUL, and it seems likely that further amendments will be made at Report stage. It is noteworthy that at Second Reading in the Lords a significant number of Conservative peers spoke against the Bill. The level of opposition expressed by peers from all parties indicates that it may not be straightforward for the government to get the Bill into law. It seems likely that the government will need to accept at least some of the Lords’ amendments if it wishes to avoid a lengthy period of ‘ping pong’ between the Lords and the Commons.
In contrast to the approach being taken in respect of much retained EU law, the House of Lords is, in parallel, scrutinising the Financial Services and Markets Bill, which would similarly revoke retained EU law relating to financial services, but contains developed provisions which enable the Treasury and financial services regulators to replace that EU Law with legislation designed specifically for UK markets.
Report stage on the Bill—a further chance for the House of Lords to closely scrutinise elements of the Bill and make changes—began on 19 April 2023.
Authors: David Mundy, Aaron Nelson, and Joanna Purkis at BDB Pitmans, for LexisNexis.
Equality Act: EHRC respond to Minister’s request to clarify the definition of ‘sex’
On 21 February 2023, the Minister for Women and Equalities, Kemi Badenoch, requested advice from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) regarding the definition of the protected characteristic of ‘sex’ in the Equality Act 2010 (EqA 2010). EHRC have provided an initial response to the Minister’s request namely suggesting that the UK government carefully consider implications any change to the legislation could have.
If you would like any additional information, please contact Anne-Marie Pavitt or Sophie Banks on: firstname.lastname@example.org
This month the focus is on the details. The EAT considered the circumstances of a disabled employee’s redundancy selection interview, an employee’s claim for damages for asbestosis was increased as a result of the employer not accepting his Part 36 offer, and we delve into the Pensions Ombudsman’s error of law in not considering whether a man who took early ill-health retirement might have otherwise been able to redeploy as a reasonable adjustment and therefore could have suffered financial loss by retiring early.
- Disability Discrimination: Whether requiring a disabled employee to attend a redundancy selection interview could put him at a substantial disadvantage
- Personal Injury: The importance of considering Part 36 offers when considering damages claims
- Pensions: The Pension Ombudsman should have considered redeployment as a reasonable adjustment
- Tribunals: Appeal to EAT must attach the signed judgment, not copy and pasted text
Disability Discrimination: Whether requiring a disabled employee to attend a redundancy selection interview could put him at a substantial disadvantage
In Hilaire v Luton Borough Council  EAT 166, the EAT ruled on the employee’s appeal against the employment tribunal’s decision, rejecting his claims which alleged that his selection for redundancy, without the employer having given adequate consideration to his disability, had amounted to a failure to make reasonable adjustments. The employee, who suffered from depression and arthritis, had been required to attend an interview in a redundancy situation and he had informed the employer that he had been too ill to attend. The employer relied on the fact that the employee had been granted two extensions to the deadline for submission of an application for a role in the new structure, and that he had had been offered an alternative date for his interview. The tribunal concluded that the employer had applied a ‘provision, criterion or practice’ (PCP) of requiring the employee to attend an interview, and that he had not been placed at a substantial disadvantage by that PCP.
The EAT held that the tribunal had erred in its approach to the first aspect of ‘disadvantage’ by engaging in a binary decision concerning whether the employee could have taken part in the interview or not. The relevant matters in considering disadvantage under s.20 of the Equality Act 2010 (the Act) were the effects of the disability which made it more difficult for the disabled employee to meet an expectation of the employer (the PCP). The EAT held that, where the tribunal had found that the employee had had problems with memory and concentration and with social interaction, such problems would, at the least, have hindered effective participation in the interview. Accordingly, the tribunal should then have considered whether the limitation on the ability to participate had been more than minor or trivial.
The EAT further ruled that the second aspect of disadvantage was causation, and that there was evidence supporting the tribunal’s conclusion that the employee would not have taken part in the interview for reasons unconnected with his disability. Therefore, the EAT held that his disability had not prevented him from complying with a PCP and that, on that basis alone, the appeal could not succeed. precover from the effects which would have hindered his participation in an interview, could be considered an adjustment within t7he meaning of the Act, but that, given the significant impairment in the present case, from which recovery would have been protracted, the short delay to the date of the interview which the employer had applied could not be considered an adjustment. However, the EAT ruled that, on the evidence, the tribunal had been entitled to consider that the surrounding circumstances and the impact on other employees had meant that no step, including ‘slotting in’, would have been a reasonable step for the employer to have taken. Accordingly, the appeal was also dismissed on that basis.
Personal Injury: The importance of considering Part 36 offers when considering damages claims
In Brown v G & K Manson Ltd  EWHC 3004 (KB), the King’s Bench Division assessed damages in a claim brought against the claimant’s former employer, in circumstances where the claimant had developed asbestosis following his exposure to asbestos during his employment. Judgment on liability had been entered in earlier proceedings. Among other things, the court accepted the main elements of the submissions made on the claimant’s behalf, subject to a recalculation of the hourly rate for gratuitous care and assistance. The court accepted that the debilitating breathlessness which the claimant had begun to suffer from early 2019 from asbestosis had resulted in his wife undertaking an additional daily hour of assistance, and it took into account, among other things, the claimant’s extra energy costs as a result of the energy price cap increases, bearing in mind that his forced sedentary lifestyle required his domestic heating to be on for longer, so as to keep him warm. The court held that the appropriate total award of damages was £91,438.54, including interest.
However, the court was informed that the claimant had put forward a Part 36 offer of £72,500 in full and final settlement (meaning under Part 36 of the Civil Procedure Rules, whereby one party seeks to settle the claim for a fixed, whole amount, which if not accepted, can have consequences as to the award and costs). Accordingly, the EAT ruled that the consequences of CPR Pt 36.17(4)(d) came into effect, such that the claimant was entitled to an additional amount of £9,143.85, representing 10% of the amount the court had awarded, including interest. The court also awarded interest under Pt 36.17(4)(a).
Pensions: The Pension Ombudsman should have considered redeployment as a reasonable adjustment
In Andrew v Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust  EWHC 2992 (Ch), the Chancery Division allowed in part Mr Andrew’s appeal from a decision of the Pensions Ombudsman which had determined that Mr Andrew’s claim for financial loss had failed on reliance. Mr Andrew was employed by the respondent trust as a specialist orthotic technician. He was a member of two pension schemes (the 1995/2008 scheme and the 2015 scheme). Having developed significant health problems, in August 2017 Mr Andrew had applied for both Tier 1 and Tier 2 ill-health retirement (IHR). It was approved on 28 December 2017 on the basis of Tier 1, but not Tier 2. Mr Andrew’s employment terminated on 18 February 2018. When he was sent the final calculation of his pension entitlement, however, on 29 March 2018, his entitlement under the 1995/2008 scheme and the annual pension did not coincide with the estimate given to him in August 2017.
Mr Andrew complained to the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman had decided that he was given the correct figures. The court held, among other things, that on the basis of the evidence available to the Ombudsman, it had concluded that but for the inaccurate IHR estimate Mr Andrew would have retired at the same time and, as such, had suffered no financial loss. There was an evidential basis for that conclusion in so far as it related to Mr Andrew’s role. In particular, while Mr Andrew might have chosen to remain on sick pay the evidence did not point inexorably towards that conclusion. In addition, the court held that there was no error in the Ombudsman deciding to proceed on the basis of the evidence before him rather than holding an oral hearing.
As to the possibility that Mr Andrew would have sought and been granted redeployment as a reasonable adjustment, the court held that the Ombudsman had not considered and rejected that possibility; rather, the Ombudsman had only considered the fact that it was still open for Mr Andrew to apply for another role. The fact that it could be a reasonable adjustment to redeploy an employee without there being a need for them to go through a competitive recruitment process had been confirmed in Archibald v Fife Council  ICR 954. Failing to consider that possibility amounted to an error of law on the part of the Ombudsman and the case was remitted on that basis.
Tribunals: Appeal to EAT must attach the signed judgment, not copy and pasted text
In Richardson v Extreme Roofing Ltd  EAT 173, the EAT held that an appeal from an employment tribunal judgment to the EAT must attach a copy of the actual signed judgment and written reasons not just text which has been copied and pasted from that judgment and reasons. If an appellant is unable to attach a copy of the written reasons or ET1 claim form or ET3 response to the appeal and instead supplies a written explanation as to why they are not included then that explanation must be genuine and set out why the appellant is unable to produce the necessary documentation.
This month our update covers a new online service to help employers support disabled employees, the CIPD has found gaps in support for employees experiencing pregnancy or baby loss, there’s new draft guidance from the ICO, an update on the future of the four-day week, frustration over the scrapping of the plans to abolish the changes to off-payroll working rules, new guidance on the Professional Qualifications Act 2022, and research into allyships for underrepresented groups.
- Disability: New online service to help employers support disabled employees
- Support & Leave: CIPD report reveals gaps in workplace support for employees experiencing pregnancy or baby loss
- Data Protection: ICO consults on monitoring at work draft guidance
- Working Practices: One third of employers expect a four-day week to be a reality within ten years
- IR35: Frustration from business groups over latest Chancellor’s backtracking over the repeal of the IR35 rules
- Brexit: Government publishes guidance for UK regulators on Professional Qualifications Act 2022
- Discrimination: Research finds intent to be an ally often does not translate into action
Disability: New online service to help employers support disabled employees
On 17 October 2022, the government announced a £6.4 million investment to help employers support employees with disabilities and health conditions. Part of this investment will fund a new online service that will provide information and advice about how to support and manage employees with disabilities or health conditions, whether they are in or out of work. The service will be free and can be accessed by any employer although it is aimed at smaller businesses who may not have in-house HR support or access to occupational health services. It is hoped this service will help small businesses develop more inclusive workforces.
An early test version of the Support with Employee Health and Disability service is currently active and will be updated and developed over the next three years. An online survey is open for businesses and disability groups to offer feedback that will be used to inform the development of the site.
Support & Leave: CIPD report reveals gaps in workplace support for employees experiencing pregnancy or baby loss
A report published by the CIPD has identified gaps in workplace support for employees experiencing pregnancy or baby loss. Only a quarter of employees surveyed received paid compassionate or other special leave in this situation and a fifth of employees received no support at all from their employer. After compassionate leave, the types of support that employees identified as being most helpful were understanding from managers and colleagues that it is a difficult time, paid time off to attend appointments and the option to work from home when needed.
The CIPD has confirmed that it will publish guidance to provide practical advice for employers to improve workplace support for employees experiencing pregnancy and baby loss based on the following five principles:
- Raise awareness, in a thoughtful and sensitive way, about the need for pregnancy or baby loss to be recognised as part of workplace wellbeing.
- Create an open, inclusive and supportive culture to break down stigma and let employees know they will be supported.
- Develop an organisational framework to support employees. This should include implementing specific policies, which the report identified only just over a third of employers have in place.
- Manage absence and leave with compassion and flexibility.
- Equip line managers to support people with empathy and understanding so that they feel comfortable and capable to have sensitive conversations with team members.
Data Protection: ICO consults on monitoring at work draft guidance
On 12 October, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) opened a consultation on draft employment practices and published its draft guidance on monitoring at work. The guidance is open for consultation until 11 January 2023. The ICO is publishing its draft guidance on employment practices in stages with this being the first. It has also published an impact scoping document and plans to publish additional practical tools such as checklists.
The draft guidance covers key topics such as lawful basis for monitoring, transparency, fairness and accountability. It also provides guidance on DPIAs, security and retention as well as specialist topics such as covert monitoring, use of biometric data, call monitoring, dashcams and device activity.
This follows on from the ICO’s call for views in 2021. The ICO has published a summary of the responses to its call for views.
Working Practices: One third of employers expect a four-day week to be a reality within ten years
On 7 October 2022, the CIPD published a new report, The four-day week: Employer perspectives, which sets out employer perspectives on moving to a four-day week. The report is based on a survey which shows that 34% of respondent organisations consider that a four-day week for most workers is attainable within the next decade. One in ten respondents reported having already reduced working hours without cutting pay in the past five years (47% of those respondents confirmed the reductions were part of the COVID-19 furlough scheme). Many of the 2,000 employers surveyed felt that increased efficiency would be needed for a four-day week with no reduction in pay to be sustainable, either through organisations working smarter (66%) or the increased use of technology (68%).
The CIPD notes that the report is published amid rising interest in the concept of the four-day working week. A major trial in the UK, launched earlier this year, involves around 3,330 workers across 70 companies reducing their working week to four days with no loss of pay.
Despite the rising interest in adopting a four-day week, the report found that progress remains slow with just 1% of employers that have not already done so planning to reduce hours without lowering pay in the next three years. For organisations that have reduced working hours, the main drivers are improving employee wellbeing, helping with recruitment and retention, or a reduction in demand for products or services (36%, 30% and 32% of respondents respectively). The main challenges facing these organisations are that reduced hours do not suit everyone (32%), workers cannot achieve the same volume of work or output as before (30%), or a task requires someone to be present (26%).
A separate report, The four-day week: Scottish employer perspectives, has also been published.
IR35: Frustration from business groups over latest Chancellor’s backtracking over the repeal of the IR35 rules
People Management reported on 18 October 2022 that business groups are frustrated by new Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has taken a u-turn from Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget where he had proposed repealing the IR35 off-payroll tax rules for contractors.
We reported in our September Employment Law General Update that the mini-budget had planned to repeal the 2017 and 2021 reforms from 6 April 2023. It wasn’t going to abolish IR35 but would have taken us back to the rules in place from 2000 (the Intermediaries Legislation), where the onus was on the worker to correctly assess their status and pay the correct amount of tax. However, our new Chancellor has backtracked on this meaning the situation remains the same that the end client remains responsible (and liable) for determining the IR35 status of contractors. The liability and responsibility is on the fee-paying party (often the recruiter) in the supply chain applying to public sector bodies, and medium and large private sector businesses. Small companies are exempt.
Industry experts are frustrated that the promised simplification of the tax rules is not being delivered and that many businesses had already started to undertake the vital work of how their systems would need to change by April 2023. Paul Farrer, founder and chairman of global recruitment agency Aspire, said that in turbulent times like this freelancers and contractors were needed for businesses to navigate peaks and troughs in demand. However, he called the recent IR35 news a “a backward step” – not just for workers, “but for the recruitment industry and businesses that rely heavily on the flexibility and skills of the independent workforce”. Other business leaders complain that this system is complex and poorly enforced, and badly needs proper reform. To read the whole article, see People Management.
Brexit: Government publishes guidance for UK regulators on Professional Qualifications Act 2022
The Professional Qualifications Act 2022 (PQA 2022) received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022, revoking the EU rules relating to the recognition of professional qualifications in the UK.
Among other things, the PQA 2022 introduced a new framework for the recognition of UK professional qualifications between different parts of the UK and overseas. Under this framework, UK regulators have a duty to publish information about the requirements for individuals to enter and remain in their professions (section 8, PQA 2022). In addition, UK regulators must, on request, share information with regulators from other parts of the UK (section 9, PQA 2022) and overseas regulators (section 10, PQA 2022). These obligations apply from 28 October 2022.
On 4 October 2022, BEIS published the following documents to assist UK regulators to comply with these new obligations:
- Guidance on the obligation to publish qualification requirements under section 8 of the PQA 2022, setting out what information must be published, when the obligation applies and when published information should be updated.
- Two separate guidance documents explaining the information-sharing obligations under, respectively, section 9 and section 10 of the PQA 2022. These documents set out when the legal requirements under the relevant section apply and what information must be shared. They also each contain a worked example of what a UK regulator should do when it receives a valid request for information.
Discrimination: Research finds intent to be an ally often does not translate into action
One of the first studies into allyship in the UK workplace (published by Wates on 27 September 2022) has found that intent to support colleagues from underrepresented groups has not translated into action. The study of over 5,000 employees found that 67% of UK employees consider themselves an “ally“. However, only 36% have spoken up against discrimination or exclusion of a colleague from a minority background when they have seen it at work. Around two-fifths of respondents said that they had spent time educating themselves about the experience of minorities, although this figure was lower for senior executives.
The same research found that 40% of employees have experienced microaggressions related to identity. The figure rises to nearly 60% for LGBT employees and to 64% for respondents from Black Caribbean backgrounds. Microaggressions experienced by respondents include a name being mispronounced because it is “too hard” (60% of Black African respondents and 59% of Black Caribbean respondents) and a colleague being told that they “don’t even ‘look’ gay” (42% of men from the LGBT community). Respondents from minorities were more likely to report witnessing microaggressions or discrimination. Microaggressions or discrimination related to sexual orientation was reported by almost half of lesbian, gay and bisexual respondents compared to 25% overall. Microaggressions or discrimination related to race or ethnicity were reported by 35% of respondents, rising to 62% of Black Caribbean respondents and 47% of Pakistani respondents.