Mon 23 Dec 2019

Employment law in the news - January 2020

In our regular slot we look at the key cases and other employment law issues that have made the news headlines over the past few weeks.

The Big News

All things election related took up most of the news headlines in December - from Sajid Javid's promise to review the new IR35 rules to political parties manifestos and subsequently the Queen's Speech.

Although there was nothing in the Queen's Speech about either the gender pay gap or the introduction of ethnic or disability pay gap reporting, these issues continued to make the headlines.  The Office for National Statistics published data showing that, in 2018, disabled workers were paid 12.2% less than their non disabled peers.  This coincided with research which found that only 53% of businesses actively seek and welcome disabled candidates.

After last month's news that FTSE 100 companies were struggling to hit the targets for gender equality in the boardroom, this month comes confirmation that ethnic diversity is also failing to increase .  Unfortunately, this simply confirms a similar Government review which showed only 84 of 1,048 FTSE 100 directors were from BAME backgrounds.  Much work to do.

Meanwhile one woman who has hit the very top of the pay tree is Denise Coates, boss of Bet365 with  reported annual pay of £323 million pounds.  This is the highest amount ever paid to a British company CEO. 

The Good News

There was good news for older workers wanting to remain in the workplace with the gap between the employment rate of the over 50s and the under 50s  narrowing to its closest in 25 years. ONS figures suggest that the employment rate of the over 50s has increased to 72% from 56% in 1992.

Good news for those who can get it - apparently "hangover days" are now a thing!  The cynical might say it's nothing more than a re-named duvet day, or just plain old flexible working, but, for those who have over done it, at least they can be honest about why they aren't coming in.

Not that you would guess it from media coverage, but according to ONS figures 99% of workers are satisfied with their zero hours contracts.  While, undoubtedly, these contracts have been misused (and still will be in some areas) the figures suggest that prohibiting their use would not be a popular move.

Yet more good news on the benefits of remote working.  A paper by Nuffield Health on the effects of remote working on stress, wellbeing and productivity showed that the flexibility homeworking brings makes it essential to attract and retain talent for businesses. However, it is a fine line and the paper also found that studies suggest that low productivity and poor employee relations set in after more than two and a half days of remote working a week.  The recommended solutions to this quandary include training, clear agreement on required office attendance and ensuring access to technology and suitable working environments for home workers.

And the rest….

The PWC Women in Work Index 2019 has been published.  As we have come to expect with these types of survey Nordic countries are among the best places for working women although 9 out of the top 10 are European based.  The UK sits in 14th but that is above Germany and France, and considerably above the US and Italy. 

And finally, if you are thinking of a new job for the New Year, then you might be interested in what the most unique job perks you might be offered are.  Included in the list are the aforementioned hangover days, pawternity leave for when a new puppy joins the family and workplace nap rooms. The full list can be found here.

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