Tue 01 Feb 2022

What else is happening in employment law? - February 2022

Our monthly employment law round up.

Over half of work-related absences in 2021 caused by mental health problems

A report published by the Health and Safety Executive - Health and safety statistics 2021 - has found that over 50% of new work-related illness in the last 12 months was caused by mental health problems.  This equates to 451,000 of the 850,000 reported new cases of work-related ill health in 2020/21 being caused by work-related stress, depression or anxiety.  Work-related musculoskeletal disorders accounted for another 162,000 of the total reported new cases of work-related ill health.  The report also found that 93,000 of workers suffering from Covid-19 in 2020/21 believe that they may have been exposed at work. 

Four-day week to be trialled in UK

A pilot led by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with think tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK Campaign and researchers at Oxford University, Boston College and Cambridge University will see 30 companies taking part in a trial of a four-day working week.  The trial is to last six-months and will measure whether workers can achieve 100 per cent productivity while working 80 per cent of the time.  Pay will remain the same.

One million women may quit work in 2022 due to menopause

A survey of 2000 women experiencing menopause symptoms has found that a lack of support in the workplace is directly impacting on their decisions to leave.  The issue was listed by those surveyed as having the second most damning impact on their careers, second only to having children.  While 24% were unhappy in their jobs because of lack of support, 63% said no policy of any kind had been introduced to make things easier for menopausal women.  In 2021, an Employment Tribunal found that menopause can amount to a disability under the Equality Act 2010.

Employment Bill to be brought forward once post-pandemic needs of business and workers established

On 19 January a written question on the progress of the Employment Bill was answered by Paul Scully, Parliamentary Under Secretary in BEIS.  As well as re-iterating the Bill would be brought forward "when Parliamentary time allows", it also suggested that this would not be until the UK Government are sure "it will address the needs of businesses and workers in the post-Covid economy".

Workplace Equality Fund extended for two years

The Workplace Equality Fund has been extended for two years.  The fund aims to make Scottish workplaces more inclusive and diverse.  Private, public and third sector organisations may apply for up to £75,000 each year for activities that will reduce employment inequalities and cultivate positive, fair and inclusive workplace practices.  Eligible projects must focus on supporting one or more priority groups including women, disabled or ethnic minority workers, veterans or their spouses, over 50s and workers experience gender based violence, symptoms of the menopause, or social isolation or loneliness.  Applications can be made via Advice Direct Scotland.

FCA Regulation Round-up provides clarity on regulatory references

The Financial Conduct Authority's Regulation round-up January 2022 includes a response to feedback on challenges faced by firms when obtaining regulatory references.  Regulatory references are central to the Senior Managers & Certification Regime.  The round up clarifies that:-

  • Requests for, and responses to requests for, regulatory references should be prompt.  The 6 weeks referred to in SYSC 22 guidance is a limit not a target;
  • When providing such a reference the SYSC 22 Annex 1 template should be used and care taken to ensure information is complete and accurate;
  • Firms are only required to take reasonable steps to obtain regulatory references, and should let the FCA know if they experience difficulties in doing so from any particular firm; and
  • Regulatory references should be assessed on a case by case basis.  Individuals should not be automatically rejected due to a qualification on their reference and firms should not have a quota for the number of qualified references they will accept.

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