Public consultation on minimum service levels in schools and colleges during strike action
The DfE launched a consultation to ask the public about the most appropriate way for delivering minimum service levels for the education sector. It invites employers, teachers, staff, unions, parents and other interested bodies to comment on proposals which would prioritise the attendance of vulnerable children and young people, those taking exams, the children of critical workers and primary school pupils to come into school.
The consultation closes on Saturday 30 January 2024.
New childcare scheme applications window opens
The government has published a
press release explaining how parents can apply for the first stage of the expanded access to free childcare scheme. From Tuesday 2 January 2024, eligible working parents of two-year-olds will be able to register to access 15 hours free childcare per week which will become available from April 2024.
Statutory rates to be increased in April 2024
According to proposals set out in a Department for Work and Pensions
policy paper the rates for Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay, Statutory Shared Parental Pay, Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay and Maternity Allowance will all increase from £172.48 to £184.03 per week. The rate for Statutory Sick Pay will increase from £109.40 to £116.75 per week.
These rate rises represents an increase by 6.7% in line with CPI for the year to September 2023.
England is one of the best performing western countries in education
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) assesses the knowledge and skills in mathematics, reading and science of 15-year-old pupils in countries around the world. Their recent
study shows England has significantly outperformed the international average and risen from 17th for maths in 2018 to 11th, and from 27th in 2009. The results also show that England has ranked 13th for both reading and science, having been placed at 14th and 13th respectively in 2018 and 25th and 16th in 2009.
These result follow from English 9- to 10-year-olds being ranked fourth for reading ability in a separate international study published earlier this year,
PIRLS, making them the best amongst western countries.
Call for evidence on statutory sick pay
The Work and Pensions Committee has issued a
call for evidence on whether the statutory sick pay system is fit for purpose. The inquiry will consider if SSP (including the statutory rates) needs change to help claimants recover more quickly and return to work. It is particularly interested in finding out whether shortening the period of cover and increasing the rate of payment (in line with other European countries) would work better.
The deadline for submissions is Friday 8 December 2023.
Survey finds one-in-five working mothers are considering leaving work
study conducted by the Fawcett Society in association with Totaljobs has found that one-in-ten working mothers have quit their jobs and one-in-five are considering leaving work because of the challenges created by juggling work and childcare commitments. The survey also discovered that almost 80% of women have experienced issues with career progression as a result of having children. Flexible working arrangements were available only to 31% of the surveyed mothers. The report also states that 72% of working parents have had to take unpaid leave due to their childcare responsibilities.
The survey included 3,000 working parents with children aged four and under as well as 500 HR decision makers from UK businesses.
New gender pay gap data for 2023
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released gender pay gap information for the UK in 2023. The data covers the differences in pay between men and women by age, region, full-time and part-time, and occupation. The gender pay gap in April 2023 stands at 14.3% among all employees (down from 14.4% in 2022), 7.7% for full-time employees (up from 7.6% in 2022) and -3.3% for part-time employees (unchanged from 2022).
Government to consult on plans to remove regulations preventing employers from supplying agency workers to cover striking workers
The Prime Minister’s Office has launched a
consultation about the removal of regulation 7 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003 across all sectors. The regulation ensures that employers cannot use or supply workers to carry out the work of employees taking part in official industrial action.
In 2022, the government rushed through legislation which revoked the prohibition on employers using agency workers to cover the work of staff who were on strike. These rules had been in force since 1976 and many commentators saw the 2022 Regulations as a blatant attempt, by the government, to undermine the effectiveness of strike action at a time when the number and frequency of strikes was escalating.
The High Court revoked those regulations in July 2022 because the government had failed to comply with its statutory duty to consult before changing the law. You can read our commentary about this
The consultation closes on Saturday 16 January 2024.
TUC publishes latest data on disability pay gap
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has
published new analysis of the pay gap between non-disabled and disabled workers. It found that the pay gap is currently higher than it was 10 years ago, with non-disabled workers earning approximately 14.6% more than disabled workers.
One-in-seven HR heads think men are better suited to top jobs
A poll conducted by the Young Women's Trust reveals that 15% of human resources executives in England and Wales believe men are better suited to senior management positions than women. The survey also found that 19% of HR heads would be reluctant to hire a woman who they thought might go on to start a family.
The study also asked over 4,000 18-30 year old women about their workplace concerns and found that:
Young women are paid, on average, a fifth less than young men
Only 59% felt they were confident they can achieve their career goals compared to 68% of young men
50% have experienced discrimination at work (risen from 42% the previous year). Government publishes response to occupational health consultation
The Department for Work and Pensions has published its
response to the consultation it held on increasing employer use of occupational health services entitled ‘Occupational Health: Working Better’. It has decided to introduce a voluntary minimum framework for quality occupational health provision and explore new voluntary workplace health and disability standards.
The government also says that it is continuing to explore the case for providing further support to employers through the tax system and will respond to the consultation Tax Incentives for Occupational Health ‘in due course’.
Read more – December 2023
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