We round up the latest employment news.
BSI publishes menstrual and menopausal health guide
In May 2023, the BSI issued a
standard setting out the steps employers needed to take to support staff experiencing menopausal symptoms and difficult periods. It has now published the “ Little book of menstruation, menstrual health and menopause” to help employers implement the standard.
The little book is specifically aimed at small and medium-sized businesses which have limited resources, but will be useful for all organisations that have not yet put in place systems to support staff encountering problems with their menstrual health or going through the menopause.
The little book:
Sets out the issues women face due to menstruation and menopause and explains why employers need to support them
Sets out six cost effective steps employers can take to make the workplace more inclusive
Examines issues relevant to certain sectors and suggests ways employers can support staff who have to wear uniforms, don’t have easy access to toilets or changing facilities, or have to sit for long periods.
Political parties urged to include menopause action plans in their manifestos
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Menopause (APPG) has launched its ‘
Manifesto for Menopause,’ which calls on all political parties to commit to an action plan ahead of next General Election to address the impact that menopause can have on women in the workforce.
The manifesto calls for:
A mandate for large companies (over 250 employees) to introduce menopause action plans to support female employees experiencing the menopause
Tax incentives to encourage employers to integrate menopause into occupational health
Specific guidance for SMEs to support employees going through the menopause.
It also wants the NHS to include the menopause as part of its free Health Check for women over 40 and for an official list to be made available to medical professionals that details all HRT medicines available for them to prescribe.
Changes to law on declaring criminal convictions
Reforms which came into force under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 will significantly reduce the time that offenders have to declare their criminal convictions to most potential employers after serving their sentence.
These new rules don’t apply to offenders who have committed serious sexual, violent, or terrorist offences and those working with vulnerable people (including children). The new rehabilitation periods are as follows:
Community order – the last day on which the order had effect
Custody of one year or less – one year
Custody of more than one year and up to four years – four years
Custody of more than four years – seven years.
Acas updates its guidance on ‘supporting mental health at work’
Acas has updated its guidance on ‘supporting mental health at work’ by adding new sub-section: ‘
having a policy’. It sets out how a policy can help clarify the process of dealing with mental health at work as well as what employers should do to support everyone in following it.
Most importantly, the guidance helps employers to structure their policies by providing a list of topics that should be covered. This includes:
What mental health is and how it can affect people
How the organisation is open and trained to talk sensitively about mental health problems
What mental health training is given to managers and individuals
What support is available
What happens if an employee needs time off due to mental health.
Acas launches consultation on handling requests for a predictable working pattern
Acas has opened a
consultation on its new draft statutory Code of Practice on handling requests for a predictable working pattern. The draft Code aims to help employers and workers to understand their rights and responsibilities under the new Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 which will provide certain employees and workers with a right to request a predictable work pattern and ensure requests are dealt with reasonably.
Acas invites comments from interested parties on all aspects of the draft Code but have highlighted specific issues which they are keen to receive feedback on. This consultation will close on Wednesday 17 January 2024.
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.
Local authorities to stop four-day working week trials
Despite evidence that reducing working hours often improves productivity, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has told local councils to stop running any four-day working week trials that are currently in operation. New government
guidance makes it very clear that it does not support four-day working weeks within the local government sector as a permanent arrangement. The guidance states that removing 20% of a local authority’s capacity fails to offer value for money for local taxpayers. Government announces new regulations setting out minimum service levels during strikes
The government has published draft regulations for minimum service levels for rail, ambulance, and border security staff to mitigate disruption if strikes are called. The government has said that it wants these regulations in force by Christmas.
The regulations relate to Border Force and selected HM Passport Office staff, trains and ambulance workers for the purpose of national security.
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
announced plans to consult on 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
Read more – November 2023
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