Employment Law: news and regulatory changes affecting your workplace

Our employment law specialist Philippa Wood comments on some of the recent adjustments to UK workplace regulation affecting employer and worker’s rights.

June 2022

Post Covid19 workplace strategy continues:

Although the workplace rules were relaxed in April 2022, mandatory guidance still applies to employers in the UK. These include keeping places clean and aired and giving consideration to those most at risk of developing Covid. Certain employers must continue to do health and safety risk assessments and separate guidance applies to adult social care. Failure to follow this guidance is no longer a legal breach in itself but could lead to other claims from, for example, an employee who contracts Covid19 and loses out financially, that their health wasn’t considered, possibly leading to a claim for discrimination.

Disability workforce reporting consultation:

The government is expected this coming month (July) to respond to the disability workforce reporting consultation, published in July 2021, seeking to remove barriers faced by disabled people in all aspects of their lives, including work and business.

Because many of the employment commitments describe ‘next steps’ that will be taken towards considering changes, charities and campaigners are concerned that changes may be still be some way off. It therefore remains to be seen whether the strategy will have an impact on the working lives of disabled people in the short to medium-term.

The impact of flexible furlough:

With many workplaces operating under different, much more flexible terms now, post Covid, The Economic and Social Research Council is undertaking a research project examining the impact of the flexible furlough system introduced under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) on employers’ perceptions of the ongoing feasibility of part-time working and their part-time working practices.

Fire and rehire: new rules?

In March 2022, the government announced that a new Statutory Code of Practice (the Code) will be published on the use of “fire and rehire” practices to bring about changes to employees’ terms and conditions and is now in consultation. It will detail how businesses must hold fair, transparent and meaningful consultations on proposed changes to employment terms and conditions. It will also include practical steps that employers should follow. Tribunals and courts will be required to take the Code into account when considering relevant cases, including unfair dismissal. They will have the power to apply an uplift of up to 25% of an employee’s compensation where the Code applies and the employer unreasonably fails to follow it. A draft Code will be going through consultation shortly.

Changes to 'Fit Note' reporting requirements:

On 8 June 2022, the Social Security (Medical Evidence) and Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2022 were laid before Parliament. The regulations will amend existing legislation on statements of fitness for work (or “fit notes”) to expand the category of people who can sign them for the purposes of SSP and social security claims to include registered nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists.

The Future Work Review:

On 12 May 2022, the government announced that Matt Warman MP is to lead the Future of Work Review, which will be conducted over spring and summer 2022. One of the stated aims of the review is to build on existing government commitments, including those made in response to the Taylor Review (the independent report made of modern working practices, from which came the Good Work Plan in April last year) but it is not clear whether the Future of Work will address this particular issue.

If you are concerned how the above changes could impact your business and would like to speak to our employment law specialist please use the form below or contact Philippa directly.

Philippa Wood

Philippa Wood is a solicitor with many years’ experience advising on all areas of contentious and non-contentious employment law. Her clients include individuals and companies of all sizes from entrepreneurs to global brands.

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