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Archive

July, 2021

Government response – consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace

Posted on: July 27th, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

The government has finally published a response to the 2019 consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace. Below is what you need to know:

Employer duty – the government will introduce a positive duty on employers to proactively take “all reasonable steps” to prevent sexual harassment. A definition of “all reasonable steps” has not been provided. Not only will the duty be enforceable by individual employees after an incident of sexual harassment, there’s the potential for standalone claims against employers paying lip service to the preventative measures they’ve introduced.

Third-party harassment – explicit protections will be introduced to protect employees from third-party harassment (by customers or suppliers, for example). Employers will have a defence to this type of claim if they’re able to show they’ve taken “all reasonable steps” to prevent it.

Extending time limits – the government will “look closely” at extending the time limit to bring a discrimination claim (changing it from three to six months). If this change is made it will likely be across all claims under the Equality Act 2010 to avoid potential confusion over time limits for different claims.

No timescale has been given on the introduction of these changes.

Taking a proactive approach to creating a positive and inclusive working environment doesn’t need to wait for government legislation. Clear policies, regular training and consistent communication will put you on the right track – get in touch for how we can support.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (27 July 2021), but may be subject to change which may, or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Furlough ending 30 September

Posted on: July 26th, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

The furlough scheme is due to close at the end of September 2021. From 1 August employers will be required to make a greater contribution to furloughed employees’ wages.

End to furlough – the scheme is due to end on 30 September 2021. The latest government figures show that around 2.3 million employees are still being furloughed (compared to the 8.8 million peak in May 2020).

Furlough contributions – from 1 August to 30 September, the government will contribute 60% of wages up to £1,875 and you will need to contribute the remaining 20% up to £625 when employees are furloughed (along with NICs and pension contributions).

Top up – you can still decide to top up employees’ wages beyond the 80% total while furloughed.

Notice pay – don’t forget that you cannot use furlough to cover notice pay.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (26 July 2021), but may be subject to change which may, or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

Coronavirus restrictions lifted

Posted on: July 22nd, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

Here are the key considerations for employers following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

Working from home – the government is now recommending a gradual return to the workplace over the summer (as opposed to the work from home message). If maintaining flexibility is part of your future, you’ll want to take a look at our latest update series.

Self-isolation – if an employee tests positive or is contacted by NHS Track and Trace as having been in contact with someone who has tested positive, they are still required to self-isolate. If an employee is ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid-19 app, there is no legal obligation to self-isolate, however government guidance is that they should still do so.

Health and safety concerns – whilst there is no legal requirement for an employee ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid-19 app to self-isolate, requiring them to attend work raises the risk of transmission to a colleague or customer. In this event, you’re open to potential claims of negligence and constructive dismissal if an employee resigns on the basis of an unsafe workplace. We recommend insisting an employee does not attend work in these circumstances.

Get in touch if you need further support in managing anything we’ve outlined above.

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (22 July 2021), but may be subject to change which may, or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

“Childcare disparity” – new tribunal guidance

Posted on: July 20th, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

It’s still accepted by tribunals that women face a “childcare disparity”. This case is a reminder that employers may face successful discrimination claims if their decisions put childcaring females at a detriment.

Background 

An NHS Trust introduced a new flexible working policy requiring all employees to work some weekends. This employee was unable to comply because of her childcare responsibilities for her three children (two with disabilities). She was subsequently dismissed and brought a claim for unfair dismissal and indirect discrimination.

Practical impact of the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s (EAT) decision

This means that when you consider introducing a provision, criteria or practice (PCP) potentially putting those caring for children at a detriment, you should bear in mind that the PCP opens the door to possible sex discrimination claims based on the EATs guidance. Your choices are to adjust the PCP so that there is no such detriment or be ready to objectively justify it.

While the EAT case centres around the introduction of a flexibility policy, it’s often the case that employers are faced with decisions that may put those caring for children at a detriment. If you received a furlough request from a female when schools were closed and decided to operate a blanket refusal, you could have found yourself on the wrong end of a sex discrimination claim (for the reasons set out by the EAT) in respect of which you may have needed to objectively justify the PCP.

Intelligent Employment is here to help if you need guidance and support introducing new flexibility policies- find out more

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (20 July 2021), but may be subject to change which may, or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

In a flexible working fix?

Posted on: July 13th, 2021 by Ginny Hallam

If you’re in a flexible working fix here are our suggestions on a proactive approach to a solution that works for all.

Flexibility forum – you aren’t expected to have all the answers (if answers even exist!). A ‘flexibility forum’ enables you to ask your colleagues for their thoughts on tricky flexible working issues – how to ensure your approach is fair for all, what if it works for some and not others, how much flexibility should you offer?

Trial – a flexible approach to flexibility! Make it clear at the outset that your approach to flexible working is a learning and evolving process and tweaks may be made along the way (or it may be discontinued).

Clear communication – you’ll only know if your approach is working if you land your flexible working policy clearly and consistently. Write it down, communicate it, then communicate it again. We’ve added an agile working policy to Intelligent Employment – click here to find out more about accessing our document portal.

Review – once you’ve given it a go, come back to it, look at the metrics and analyse, and take it from there.

Intelligent Employment is here to help – find out how

 

This update is accurate on the date it was sent (14 July 2021), but may be subject to change which may, or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.