The latest in the government's push towards reformation of the employment process are the proposed new amendments to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, including:
- proposals to repeal the provisions in the Equality Act 2010 relating to third party harassment and the discrimination questionnaire procedure;
- proposal to give employment tribunals the power to order an employer to carry out a pay audit where it has lost an equal pay claim or gender discrimination claim relating to non-contractual pay, and
- proposal to extend the circumstances in which tribunals can make deposit orders and orders for the recovery of witness expenses for litigants in person.
The government's proposal to repeal provisions which in certain circumstances renders employers liable for harassment of their employees by third parties may not mean employers are completely off the hook. Employees might still be able to argue that an employer's inaction in the face of third-party harassment amounts to unwanted conduct "related to" a protected characteristic that violated their dignity or created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.
The government also proposes that from 2015 the UK will have a new system of flexible parental leave whereby, from the first two weeks after the birth, both parents will be allowed to share up to 50 weeks of leave (with no more than nine months paid). Further changes will be made allowing men to take unpaid leave to attend two ante-natal appointments, increasing unpaid parental leave in March 2013 from 13 to 18 weeks and increasing the age limit on parental leave from 5 to 18 years.
Although this is some way off, employers should keep themselves informed of the progress of this legislation as it is a major change in the way employees take parental leave and employers will need to start thinking about the type of policy they wish to develop around this.
The government will also legislate to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees from 2014.