Tue 01 Jun 2021

What else is happening in employment law? - June

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

Legislation and Guidance

Maternity Action, a maternity rights charity, have published a report recommending an overhaul of the much criticised shared parental leave (SPL) scheme.  A new "6+6+6" system is proposed as a replacement to existing maternity leave and SPL schemes.  The first 6 months of leave would be reserved for the mother, with the remaining six month periods being non-transferable for each parent.  These periods would be taken concurrently or consecutively and either all in one go or in smaller blocks of weeks or months for up to 18 months after the birth.  The report also recommends leave and pay should be day one rights for all, irrespective of employment status, the right to return to the same job should be strengthened and pay should be increased to at least NMW levels and subsequently to the real living wage and then wage-replacement levels.

A new data sharing code of practice was laid before Parliament on 18 May.  In the absence of any objections it will come into force 40 days later.  The code provides guidance on how to share personal data in compliance with the UK General Data Protection Regulation.

New guidance on how employers can help tackle loneliness has been published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.  The guidance, which estimates the cost of loneliness to employers as being £2.5 billion each year, contains examples of good practice and learning and maps them onto what is known about loneliness and what can be done to alleviate it.

During a parliamentary debate on 25 May Paul Scully, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for BEIS, confirmed the Employment Bill will be brought forward when parliamentary time allows.  This follows on from the high profile absence of the Bill from the Queen's Speech earlier in May.


The second largest ever disability discrimination award has been made in the case of Barrow v Kellogg Brown & Root (UK) Ltd.  The award of £2,567,831.97 included career long wage loss, an award for injury to feelings and £25,000 for pain, suffering and loss of amenity.  Aggravated damages of £7,500 were awarded to reflect the way in with the employer treated the claimant in the full knowledge that he was disabled. 

A recent poll for the GMB union has found that 76% of those asked believe fire and re-hire tactics used by employers to force employees on to worse pay and conditions should be banned.  Although fire and re-hire can be used without breaching employment rights it does carry with it a higher risk of claims such as unfair dismissal, and accordingly is usually only used as a means of forcing changes to terms and conditions once other options have failed.  ACAS reported to Government ministers on the practice in February 2021 but the content of the report has not been made public.  During a parliamentary debate on 25 May it was confirmed that the report is still under consideration. 

A diversity and inclusion report produced by recruitment company Robert Walters has found that 42% of black professionals did not receive a pay rise after negotiation last year, twice as many as white professionals.  This figure increases to 63% for black women.  The research also found that amongst those who did receive an increase after negotiation, just 21% of black professionals were given at least 75% of the raise they requested, compared to 35% of white professionals. 

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