Wed 30 Oct 2019

Employment Law in the News - November 2019

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

The big news this month has really all been Brexit related - the Queen's Speech, the UK Government's "final pitch" to persuade Labour MPs to back the new deal by committing to increased workers' rights, the Super Saturday vote and the now inevitable general election.  However, there has still been time to donate column inches to the problem of the aging population and something that might help address that problem - flexible working.

There have been a number of warning signs that age discrimination will be the next "big thing" in employment law with the shrinking birth rate and the growth in the number of older workers. One aspect of dealing with an aging workforce is the increasing demand for flexible working - according to a 2018 survey of workers aged 50 plus, half wanted to wind down gradually to retirement.  Recent research by YouGov for Family Friendly Working Scotland discovered they are not alone in this desire with 53% of Scottish workers who were surveyed saying they work flexibly already, while another 19% do not but would like to do so.  Fortunately related research found that nearly 90% of business leaders who offer flexible work say it had a positive impact on their business

The Good News

At the other end of the age scale there was good news for younger workers with the Chancellor announcing his intention to lower the age threshold for the National Living Wage to 21 accepting advice from the Low Pay Commission.  The NLW (which currently applies to those aged 25 and over) will apply to those aged over 23 and over from 2021 and to those aged 21 and over within five years.

Also more good news for flexible workers - not only has the number of remote working jobs available doubled in the past four years but an analysis of 175,000 vacancies found remote roles offered huge positive differentials in potential earnings - up to a 120% increases compared to the same office based roles.

A new UK Government backed Board comprised of senior industry bosses also met for the first time recently with the aim of boosting diversity and inclusion in the workplace.  The Men as Change Agents "Lead the Change" Board will work to increase ethnic diversity on FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 boards and to support the Hampton-Alexander Review to help meet the target of 33% executive level FTSE 350 business leaders being women by the end of 2020.

And the rest….

The battle against sex discrimination has been a regular  feature in the news in 2019.  According to recent reports it continues to be a real issue in City financial firms.  Allegations include fake female team members being invented so teams look more diverse to clients as well as colleagues alerting each other when attractive women were being interviewed so they could walk past and "gawk at her".  However, 100 of the UK's most successful businesswoman have launched a campaign to close the gender pay gap described as the #MeTooPay initiative.   High profile backers include former Royal Mail chief Dame Moya Greene, former chief executive of Talk Talk and current chairman of NHS Improvement Baroness Dido Harding as well as broadcaster Clare Balding.

In Northern Ireland reports of the SDLP deputy leader taking her baby to work seem to have polarised opinion on whether that should be seen as a positive.  DUP MLA Carla Lockhart also takes her baby to work, with both women citing lack of maternity leave as an issue. 

And finally, Google have been examining behaviours of their highest rated managers for over 10 years to find out what makes a good boss.  Find out what does make all the difference here.

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