We round up the latest employment news.
COVID-19 response: government sets out its plan for autumn and winter
The government published its
COVID-19 response: autumn and winter plan 2021 which made it clear that, despite the high level of daily infections, it doesn’t intend to impose any new lockdowns. Instead, it has two plans: plan ‘A,’ which is focused on vaccination and testing. If that doesn’t keep the virus at ‘manageable levels’, it will invoke its contingency, plan ‘B.’ This would see the re-introduction of face coverings and mandatory COVID certification in some high risk settings.
Read more about
the plans. ICO starts consultation for updating guidance on GDPR and modern working practices
Almost a decade ago, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) issued two Employment Practices Codes:
one intended for SMEs and supplementary guidance for larger organisations. Both are still available as guidance today, but are now out of date.
The rules around data protection changed in May 2018 when GDPR came into force. Individuals obtained new rights about the processing of their personal data, such as portability and the right to be forgotten. Plus their existing rights were enhanced. In the context of the employment relationship, organisations had to navigate their way through these changes without the benefit of tailored advice from the regulator.
The world of work has changed significantly since 2011, fuelled by the proliferation of technological advances, which allow organisations to monitor staff while they’re at work and check their social media presence. These issues are extremely complicated, and it would be helpful to have an updated employment specific code employers could refer to. The ICO recognises that its codes need to be updated and is
seeking views on:
Recruitment selection and verification
• Employment records
• Monitoring at work
• Processing information about workers' health.
The ICO wants organisations to respond to its consultation to help it shape its approach. If you have examples of data protection issues that you’ve found difficult to resolve, or have any general issues that you’d like the codes to cover, please respond.
The deadline for the consultation is Wednesday 27 October 2021 and you can access it
here. New NHS COVID Pass available
The government has recently launched the new
NHS COVID Pass which employees can use to demonstrate their vaccination status.
Employees can also apply for official proof that, for medical reasons, they’re unable to be vaccinated and/or tested for COVID-19. If they’re medically exempt, their NHS COVID Pass will look the same as those who have been vaccinated.
New rules for international travel
Ahead of half term, the government has published
new guidance on travel restrictions that apply when travelling abroad and returning to England.
From Monday 4 October 2021, anyone who is fully vaccinated still needs to book and pay for a day two COVID-19 test after they arrive back in England. Anyone who isn’t fully vaccinated must take a COVID-19 test within three days before they travel to England and book and pay for day two and eight COVID-19 tests after arriving in England. They also have to quarantine at home for ten days unless they use the
Test to Release Scheme.
rules apply to both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated people returning to the UK from a red-list country who are still required to quarantine in a managed hotel for ten days. DHSC announce end of shielding programme for most vulnerable
The Department of Health and Social Care has
announced that people, previously considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), won’t be asked to shield again. It has closed the shielding programme and advised CEV people to talk to their doctors about how best to manage their own conditions during the pandemic. HSE publishes updated guidance on ventilation in the workplace
The Health and Safety Executive has published updated guidance on ventilation and how it can help reduce the spread of coronavirus. It covers:
How to identify poorly ventilated areas
The use of carbon dioxide monitors
How to improve natural and mechanical ventilation
Balancing ventilation with keeping warm
Ventilation in vehicles.
End of SSP COVID-19 rebate scheme
The government brought the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme to an end on Thursday 30 September 2021. If you’re eligible for a rebate you have until Friday 31 December 2021 to apply via the
To reclaim SSP you must:
Have already paid your employee’s sick pay
• Claim for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus
• Have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before Friday 28 February 2020
• Have had fewer than 250 employees on Friday 28 February 2020 across all your PAYE payroll schemes
The scheme only allows you to recover up to two weeks SSP per employee and is payable from the first qualifying day the employee is off work, as the usual rules about ‘waiting days’ don’t apply.
Gender pay gap ‘watchdog’ will pursue employers that miss the October 2021 deadline
Organisations with 250 or more employees had to report their gender pay gap by Tuesday 5 October 2021.
To help businesses cope with the impact of the pandemic, enforcement for 2019/20 was suspended and enforcement for 2020/21 was pushed back from April to October 2021. The Equality and Human Rights Commission, the body responsible for enforcing the requirements, has
announced that it’ll begin enforcement action against employers failing to report by the extended deadline. New law announced to ensure workers receive all tips
In 2016, the government opened a
consultation to consider whether tips and gratuities should go direct to staff without deductions (other than for tax and NI). In 2018, it indicated that it’d introduce legislation to ensure that tips left for workers would go to them in full.
It’s finally picked this issue back up and has published a formal
response which explains what the legislation will cover.
The measures will require employers to:
Pass on tips to workers without any deductions (other than those required by law)
• Distribute tips in a way that’s fair and transparent
• Have a written policy on tips and keep records of how tips have been distributed
• Distribute tips to staff within a specific timeframe
• Allow workers to make a request for information about tipping and require employers to respond within four weeks
• Comply with a statutory Code of Practice on tipping.
It appears that employers who ignore the new rules may be fined. Plus, workers can complain to an employment tribunal to obtain compensation.
The legislation will be included in an Employment Bill which has not yet been published. It could, therefore, take some time before this becomes law.
Read more - October 2021
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