Those expecting the usual crop of government consultations on employment law reform to be rushed out before the summer recess will be disappointed this year; most of the ‘to do’ list (here) remains untouched, with just a few exceptions:
- The Government has finally published its response to the 2018 employment status consultation (which formed part of its Good Work Plan arising out of the Taylor Review). It has concluded that the time is not right for legislative reform to the status tests nor to bring forward proposals to align the employment and tax frameworks, given the lack of consensus on what reforms are appropriate, the need for business to focus on economic recovery from the pandemic, and the wider economic context. Instead the Government hopes to ‘deliver greater clarity’ by publishing guidance on employment status and rights, for HR and legal professionals, for individuals and for employers, available here. The Government also notes the benefit of allowing time for the impact of the Uber Supreme Court judgment “to flow through to marketplace practices before considering any further interventions”.
- Legislation to increase the maximum damages which may be ordered against a union for unlawful industrial action and to revoke the restriction on employment businesses supplying temporary staff to replace striking workers came into force on 21 July 2022. Unison has indicated that it intends to seek judicial review of the provisions on using temporary staff.
- The Government announced that it is backing Private Members’ Bills to provide for neonatal care leave and pay and ensure all tips go to workers, so these initiatives will not now need to await an Employment Bill. Both Bills have received their second reading in the Commons.
- The Government’s newly published policy paper Women’s Health Strategy for England contains a number of workplace-related objectives. These include encouraging employers to foster a culture where women’s health issues can be openly discussed and supported, and to implement flexible working and menopause policies and appropriate support for those experiencing menstrual health and fertility problems. Further work will be done on how to improve workplace support for those affected by pregnancy loss and stillbirth, and a new pregnancy loss certificate will be introduced for parents who experience a loss before 24 weeks of pregnancy. Meanwhile the cross-party Women and Equalities Committee has again called for a consultation on making the menopause a protected characteristic, along with a duty to make reasonable adjustments, and for the dual discrimination provision in the Equality Act to be commenced – proposals that the Government has previously rejected (most recently, here).
- Draft regulations have now been laid to extend the ban on exclusivity clauses in employment contracts to low-income workers.
- The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill has been introduced into Parliament, largely reflecting the plans set out in the Government’s consultation response – see our HSF Data Notes blog post here for further details.
No guidance on voluntary ethnicity pay gap reporting nor any response on workforce disability reporting has been published as yet, despite their summer 2022 deadlines. The Government’s Race Disparity Unit has published a consultation on new standards for ethnicity data, aimed at public bodies but which may prove useful to employers wishing to start monitoring voluntarily.