Thu 19 Aug 2021

What else is happening in employment law? - August

We look at what is happening in employment law away from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Legislation and Guidance 

ACAS has published new guidance on hybrid working.  It aims to help employers who are considering introducing hybrid working and covers consulting and preparing for it, creating a policy, treating staff fairly and supporting and managing staff.

The proposed legislation to provide greater protections from redundancy for employees who are pregnant or on maternity leave was referred to in Parliament on 7 July.  The legislation will extend the period of redundancy protection for women so that it begins when an employee advises their employer that they are pregnant and ends six months following their return to work from maternity leave. Unfortunately, for those waiting for confirmation of when the legislation will be brought in, it was simply confirmed that the protections would be brought in "when parliamentary time allows".  

UK Government response to the 2019 consultation "Health is everyone's business: proposals for reducing ill health related job loss" has been published.  Included in the consultation was a proposal to introduce a right for non-disabled employees to request workplace modifications to assist their return from sick leave.  This was considered by some to be a step too far and the UK Government has decided not to pursue this proposal or a number of others relating to SSP.  It is though intended to progress a strategy to improve and increase access to occupational health services and the intention to consult on making flexible working the default position unless employers have good reasons not to remains.  No time scale has been given for the consultation.


In the recently published Tackling violence against women and girls strategy the UK Government has committed to support victims of sexual harassment and abuse in higher education (including Universities) by reviewing options to limit the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements in these cases.  Although this measure appears to be aimed primarily at protecting students, Universities have been criticised for the number of NDAs that have reportedly been used in cases of sexual harassment of employees. As education is devolved, any measures taken forward will only affect England.

The TUC, CBI and the ECHR have joined together to press the UK Government to introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting.  The move follows the publication of the widely criticised report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities and the consultation that ran between October 2018 and January 2019 which the UK Government has yet to respond to.  The UK Government responded by confirming they are still considering these documents and will respond in due course.  The Commission's report did not recommend the introduction of mandatory reporting.

A report by the Runnymede Trust on Race and Racism in England which was funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that BAME workers are more likely to be insecure and low paid work, and to have worked in sectors forced to close during the pandemic.  The report makes a number of legislative recommendations including the introduction of public sector ethnicity pay gap reporting, and the bringing into force of the public sector duty regarding socio-economic inequalities and combined discrimination provisions of the Equality Act 2010.

Following the European Commission adopting two adequacy decisions - one under the General Data Protection Regulation and the other under the Law Enforcement Directive - personal data can now continue to flow freely from the EU to the UK.  This is because the European Commission are satisfied that the UK offers the same level of protection to personal data that is available under EU law.  More information is available from the Information Commissioner's Office.


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