We round up the latest employment news.
Revised Code of Practice on requests for flexible working
In July last year
we wrote about ACAS’s consultation on its Draft Code of Practice – handling flexible working requests. After considering the feedback received during the consultation Acas has published a revised Code of Practice which includes a few changes to the original document including:
recommending that employers discuss with the employee other options if they cannot fully agree to their original request and consider hosting a trial period to access the feasibility of the arrangement
removing the need to hold a formal meeting if the employer agrees to the request
recommending an expanded list of individuals who can accompany an employee to a meeting (whilst making it clear that there is no statutory right to have a companion present)
expressly states that employers don’t have a statutory right to appeal a decision, but that it’s good practice to allow them to do so
suggesting that all organizations, regardless of their size, assign a different manager to handle appeals related to flexible working requests
removing its previous suggestion that if the request involves adjustments for disability, it should be dealt with separately.
Acas will also produce non-statutory guidance.
New government guidance on holiday pay and entitlement
The government has published
new guidance on changes to the Working Time Regulations which come into force from 1 January 2024. It covers the meaning of irregular hours worker and part-year worker, holiday entitlement for these workers, carry over of leave and holiday pay calculations.
The guidance is not binding on employers or tribunals and contains some errors.
New government guidance on paying staff tips
The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023, is expected to come into force on 1 July 2024 and will create a legal obligation on employers to allocate all tips, gratuities and service charges to workers, without any deductions, and to ensure these are distributed fairly between workers.
To help employers and workers understand the new law, the government has published a Draft code of practice on fair and transparent distribution of tips (the Code). Once approved, the Code will provide guidance to employers to help them to understand and follow the new rules on tips. It applies to all sectors where tips are paid, but will be particularly important in the hospitality sector.
The Code is under consultation and could be tweaked slightly. As currently drafted it explains that:
The legislation applies to all workers, including permanent employees, agency staff, casual workers, and those on zero-hours contracts. Fair allocation and distribution of tips doesn’t necessarily mean that employers must allocate the same proportion of tips to all workers. Legitimate reasons may exist for allocating different amounts.
There should be a clear and objective mechanism for distributing tips which should be fair and reasonable, taking into account the circumstances and nature of the employer’s business. Various factors can be considered, such as the type of role, the amount of basic pay, individual and/or team performance, seniority/level of responsibility, length of service, and customer intention. Whatever approach is used must not discriminate against anyone with a protected characteristic.
Measures that the employer puts in place must be transparent and must include a written tipping policy that is regularly maintained and made available to all staff. Accurate tipping records must also be kept for a period of three years.
Employers should consult with their staff and seek broad agreement on how tips are distributed and regularly review this approach to make sure that it is working effectively.
The consultation process has already started and will run for a period of 10 weeks which will end 22 February 2024. You can access the consultation documents and submit your responses here . Changes to paternity leave
The government is making changes to the way paternity leave operates. It has published draft legislation: Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 which will make the following changes:
To give fathers and partners more flexibility, they will be able to take their two weeks leave in two separate blocks of one week (rather than having to take just one week in total or two consecutive weeks).
Employed fathers and partners will be able to take this leave within a year of a child’s birth, rather than in the first eight weeks.
They have to give 28 days’ notice to the employer prior to taking each period of leave.
The new regulations come into force on 8th March 2024 but only apply to parents where the expected week of childbirth is on or after 6th April 2024, and children whose expected date of placement for adoption, or expected date of entry into Great Britain for adoption, is on or after 6th April 2024. New skilled worker threshold won’t apply to everyone
The government has recently confirmed that the general salary threshold in the Skilled Worker route which is due to increase to £38,700 in April 2024, won’t apply to people who are already in the UK under a Skilled Worker visa, or to those who apply for a visa before the rules change when they change employment, extend their stay or want to settle here. Is the tide turning against remote workers?
According to a recent survey conducted by HR technology company Employment Hero , nearly a third of small businesses in the UK wouldn’t look favourably on hiring a candidate who requested to work remotely for two days a week. The study revealed that 22% of employers would be "less inclined" to hire an individual who made such a request during an interview, while 7% considered it a deal breaker. Notably, businesses in the northern regions of England displayed higher levels of scepticism towards remote working requests, with over 40% saying that it would reduce the likelihood of them offering a candidate the job and/or be a decisive factor in their decision. Rising costs, including the planned increase in the national living wage, were also identified as a concern for small and medium-sized businesses. HMRC urges seasonal workers to check pay rates
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) reminded seasonal staff and students employed on short-term contracts in various industries such as shops, hotels, Christmas markets, garden centres, restaurants, and warehouses that they are entitled to receive the same minimum wage rates as permanent workers. The tax office has advised these workers to carefully review their payslips to ensure that they are being paid correctly. HMRC emphasizes that it is important for employers to comply with the legal requirement of providing the minimum wage to all employees, regardless of their employment duration or contract type. Employers fail to support women with menopausal symptoms
According to a survey conducted by Unite , a staggering 83% of menopausal women aren’t able to access support within their workplaces. The report says that, even where support is available, women often feel uncomfortable discussing their experiences, particularly in male-dominated work environments. They also complain that they are not provided with simple adjustments such as fans for the office or being allowed to take time off to cope with debilitating experiences such as hot flushes.
The union is demanding that employers recognize their responsibilities towards their staff and take action to create menopause-friendly workplaces. Age discrimination commonplace at work
According to research by the Centre for Ageing Better, 37% of people in their 50’s and 60’s who experienced age discrimination, said that it happens most often at work. Pay growth slows as vacancies reduce
According to the Office for National Statistics , pay growth is slowing and job vacancies fell 5% in October to December compared with July to September. Quarter of employees globally ready to jump ship
According to a recent survey report conducted by the Boston Consulting Group , a significant portion of employees worldwide are considering leaving their current roles within the next year. The report highlights that poor management is a major factor driving employees to seek new job opportunities. In the UK, this sentiment is echoed, as 32% of workers expressed dissatisfaction with their managers.
It found that investing in managers is the most critical lever for promoting employee retention. Key line manager qualities valued by staff include those who:
create a safe, hazard free working environment
accept alternative views/ disagreement
are committed to diversity, equality and inclusion.
Largest companies pay gap widens
The pay gap between chief executives and average employees at the UK's largest companies has increased in the past year, despite overall wage growth in the economy. According to data from the High Pay Centre , a think tank focused on pay and employment rights, the average pay differential at FTSE 350 firms was 57 to 1 in 2022, up from 56 to 1 in 2021.The figures also revealed that the pay differential at the largest FTSE 100 companies was even wider, standing at 80 to 1.
These findings indicate that little progress has been made in narrowing the gap between top-earning executives and their employees. The data highlights that over a fifth of FTSE 100 bosses earned 100 times more than their average employee.
Extra nursery places in primary schools
Labour has appointed the former head of Ofsted to conduct a review of the expansion of childcare services. Labour is exploring the idea of creating numerous nursery places within existing primary schools to help working parents.
UK Investors Call for Mandatory Ethnicity Pay Gap Reporting
Leading UK investors want financial institutions to be forced to report their ethnicity pay gaps. ShareAction, an investment charity, is spearheading this collective effort and has gained support from major backers including Nest, the Church of England Pensions Board, Brunel Pension Fund, Pensionbee, and Ethical Partners Fund Management.
Read more – January 2024
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