Mon 27 Jan 2020

New Legislation, Guidance & Consultations - February 2020

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published new guidance on sexual harassment and harassment at work, new rates for family friendly benefits have been proposed and the Parental Bereavement Leave Regulations have been laid before Parliament.

New technical guidance on sexual harassment and harassment at work has been published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.  The guidance is described as the "authoritative and comprehensive guide to the law and the best practice in tackling harassment".  It covers this topic in some detail, clearly explaining what can be a complex and, at times, misunderstood area of the law.  This is balanced with significant use of practical examples to help employers recognise when harassment might occur or has occurred.  Although it is not a statutory code - so a tribunal is not obliged to take it into account - it may be used as evidence in legal proceedings.

Employers can expect to find guidance on:-

  • What harassment is and what victimisation is
  • What their obligations and liabilities under the Equality Act 2010 are - this includes in relation to harassment by third parties in the workplace and harassment by other workers away from the workplace
  • What they can and should do to both prevent and respond to harassment

As the title suggests, the guidance is not limited to sexual harassment or harassment related to sex.  It also deals with harassment of LGBT employees and harassment related to race, disability, age and religion or belief, providing a great deal of information in a user friendly and accessible way appropriate for employers or all sizes and types.

Following on the heels of last month's announcement regarding the new rates for national and minimum wage, this month has seen new rates proposed for family friendly benefits and statutory sick pay (SSP).  It is expected that from April statutory maternity/paternity/adoption and shared parental pay will increase from the current £148.68 to £151.20 per week while SSP will increase from £94.25 to £95.85 per week.  The changes usually take effect from the first Sunday of the month, which this year will be 5 April.

The Parental Bereavement Leave Regulations 2020 and The Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (General) Regulations 2020 were laid before Parliament in January and will take effect on 6 April 2020.  Bereaved parents will be allowed to take either one or two weeks leave (the weeks do not need to be consecutive) and will be paid at the same rate as other family friendly benefits - for 2020/21 that is the lower of  £151.20 per week or 90% of salary.  

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