Employment Law can be a complex area of legislation. This event was tailored to help explore all the latest changes in UK employment law, and discuss what is on the horizon. Our expert panel consisted of Karen Lester, Trainer and Individual Conciliator at Acas and Lee Jefcott, Partner and Employment Lawyer at Brabners. This blog is a detailed summary of the legislation discussed during the event, and includes a list of resources and the full video recording.
How should employers navigate the vaccination of their employees?
As the vaccination programme gathers speed, employers may now be faced with questions from their employees.
There is no law that says people must have the vaccine. There may be some people who have been advised not to have it for health reasons, or it may be a personal choice.
Employers should be sensitive towards personal situations and keep any concerns confidential and careful to avoid discrimination.
Employers may find it useful to talk to their staff about the vaccine and share the benefits of being vaccinated. It could help to have conversations on things like:
- Latest government information on the vaccine.
- What happens if staff need time off work for the vaccine.
- Pay for staff if they need time off work for the vaccine.
- If the employer plans on collecting data on staff vaccinations, and how this follow data protection law.
- If vaccination is required to be able to do their job.
To encourage staff to get the vaccine, employers might consider paid time for appointments or not counting vaccine-related absences, or trigger points and implementing a vaccine policy.
The return to the workplace – responsibilities and considerations.
As the different national lockdowns begin to ease, many employers will be starting to consider how and when employees will return to the workplace.
Questions may arise - who should I bring back into the workplace? Who can continue to work from home permanently? What might office space look and feel like now?
A line manager is often the starting point for gathering information from teams and individuals about their ways of working. Having open conversations with employees can provide information, support, and guidance to employees on the return to the workplace. They also give the line manager an opportunity to build and maintain trust - and to gather information about the potential to return to the workplace.
It’s important that health and wellbeing form part of these conversations. The employer is responsible for the health and safety of all employees, including those working from home.
Employers must conduct a risk assessment of employee duties, and that includes those working from home. Employers, employees, and any representatives should agree on what’s needed to do the job e.g. stable internet connection, equipment, furniture - and who will provide or pay for this equipment and repairs. These risk assessments should be reviewed regularly to make sure working environments at home remain safe and healthy.
Understanding off-payroll working (IR35)
This is a change to the way in which HMRC collects tax in relation to businesses that engage contractors. It affects medium and large employers who use the services of individual consultants who supply their services through an intermediary, normally their own limited company.
From 6th April 2021 employers will need to conduct a “status determination” and set out in writing whether the arrangement is inside or outside IR35.
It will be inside IR35 if the arrangement is such that the individual would be an employee of the organisation for whom they work “but for” the imposition of the intermediary. Therefore, the key to this is to understand what tests go to determine employment status. Find an article on this topic by Brabners here.
Gender Pay Gap – how to report on and address the issue.
Even in 2021, on average men are paid far more than women. From April 2017, companies employing 250 or more employees in the UK have had to report on the difference between average hourly pay for their male and female employees together with how many men and women are in each of their four “pay quartiles” and their gender bonus gap.
Since the first reporting period in April 2018, 45% of employers reports revealed that gender pay gaps had actually increased! See government guidance about how to report your gender pay gap.
Action Plan: Employers should consider carefully steps that might be taken to start to narrow their gender pay gap. These could be steps to encourage more female representation in their senior positions, and steps to remove the barriers faced by women in progressing into senior jobs.
Will non-compete clauses in employment contracts be abolished?
The Government have recently consulted on this – and a report is promised in due course.
Do these clauses, which may prevent people from starting new businesses after they leave employment or moving into new employment act to stifle the economy and the Government’s much-publicised Covid recovery plans?
Should employers have to pay employees in order for these clauses to be enforceable? Find more information on this here.
- YouTube Recording: Employment Law Webinar
- Supporters Network Webinar: Slide Deck
- Acas Helpline: 0300 123 1100
- Acas: Guidance on Testing, Furlough, Working from home
- Government Guidance: Employing EU Citizens in the UK
- Health and Safety Executive: Working from Home Risk Assessments
- Brabners: Planning for Post Pandemic Return to the Workplace