Strikes: new consultation on minimum service levels in higher education
The government has said that it intends to launch a
consultation on minimum service levels in universities to combat the impact of strikes. It will focus on ‘stronger protections for final year students, key cohorts or those studying specialist subjects’ and will examine how to guarantee teaching contract hours and marking during strikes.
This is a new development. The government has
previously stressed that the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023 was primarily aimed at protecting public safety and would focus on minimum service levels for fire, ambulance and rail services. It also said that it hoped it would not have to use these powers for other sectors included in the Act such as education and wanted them to ‘reach a sensible and voluntary agreement…on delivering a reasonable level of service when there is strike action’.
This consultation will also apply to all OfS registered providers, including around 150 colleges. It’s also possible that other consultations will follow in respect of the wider education sector.
Union challenges government over new strike laws
The Trades Union Congress has
announced that it is reporting the government to the International Labour Organization (ILO) over the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023. The TUC has stated that the legislation falls far below international legal standards and may breach the UK-EU trade agreement.
The ILO has already warned the government that existing and prospective legislation should be in line with ILO standards.
New right for casual staff to request predicable hours coming soon
A law giving temporary and agency workers the right to request more predictable hours has received Royal Assent. When enacted, the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023, will give people in atypical work, such as zero-hours or temporary contracts, the right to request a more predictable working pattern.
Employers will be able to turn down requests on similar grounds to those that apply to the flexible working regime.
Government announces National Living Wage rate rise
The Chancellor has announced that the NLW available to adults aged 23 and over will rise to two-thirds of average earnings from April next year and has
told the Conservative Party conference that it will increase the rate to at least £11 per hour. The existing rate is £10.42 an hour.
New rates for the NMW and NLW will be announced in November 2023.
EHRC updates technical guidance for schools on the Equality Act
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has updated its
technical guidance for schools in England and Wales. It is not a statutory code but can be referred to in evidence in legal proceedings.
The technical guidance outlines the obligations the Equality Act places upon schools regarding pupils with protected characteristics and the provision of their education. It aims to help school leaders understand and comply with the Act and suggests steps schools can take to ensure they are meeting their obligations. It includes examples of all protected characteristics, in areas such as admissions, exclusions and access to facilities and services.
The review aims to ‘ensure … references to the protected characteristics of sex and gender reassignment reflect developments in this complex area of policy and law’.
The Department for Education has said that it will issue separate guidance to help schools and colleges support transgender students.
Union launches AI taskforce to protect worker rights
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has
launched a new AI taskforce to consider what needs to be done to safeguard workers’ rights. It believes that the UK risks becoming an “international outlier” on the regulation of AI given that the EU and other countries have already drafted specific legislation to properly regulate it in this context.
The taskforce will consist of leading specialists in law, technology, politics, HR, and the voluntary sector and will consider what additional laws the UK needs. The taskforce will aim to publish an expert-drafted AI and Employment Bill in the early part of 2024.
CIPD publishes manifesto for good work
The CIPD has unveiled a manifesto for good work, which calls on the next UK government to develop a long-term workforce strategy. It argues that the UK needs a joined-up workforce strategy covering three themes – skilled work, healthy work, and fair work – in order to tackle stagnating productivity, rising skills shortages, an ageing working population and the UK’s transition to net zero.
New guidance for employers monitoring workers
The Information Commissioner has published
guidance: monitoring workers to help employers comply with their data protection laws. The guidance covers any form of monitoring of staff, whether on work premises (or elsewhere) and both during and outside of working hours.
It addresses issues employers need to consider if they are using monitoring tools that use solely automated processes and biometric data for time and attendance monitoring. It includes checklists and links to other helpful information.
39% of working parents want workplace mental health support
Two-in-five (39%) working parents of children under 18 would like mental health support available to them at work, according to
new research from Working Families and Bright Horizons.
The findings, released to coincide with National Work Life Week (2-6 October), revealed that 89% of working parents believe access to flexible working arrangements has or would have a positive effect on their wellbeing, while 37% said subsidised childcare or back-up care was important.
Seven-in-10 parents agreed a culture that encourages work-life balance was an important workplace benefit, with higher pay (65%), managers with the skills and knowledge to support them (58%) and access to their preferred flexible working pattern (57%).
Women and Equalities Committee looking into the rights of older people
The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee has launched a new inquiry into the rights of older people. It wants to examine a number of issues that impact older people including stereotyping and discrimination, and labour market access.
The deadline to respond is Tuesday 31 October 2023.
Read more – October 2023
For general enquiries
0370 1500 100
Or we can call you back at a time of your choice
Request a call back
Phone lines are open 24/7, 365 days a year