Legislation and regulation
February 28, 2017
New and updated guidance s being published today by Acas to help employers and their staff understand the many different types of employment arrangements that exist in the modern workplace and their legal entitlements. The revised guidance is released against the backdrop of Matthew Taylor (Chief Executive of the Royal Society of the Arts) review which considers the implications of new forms of work driven by digital platforms, for employee rights and responsibilities, employer freedoms and obligations, and the existing regulatory framework surrounding employment. The new Acas guidance reflects these changes to the way in which people work, are expected to work in the future, and follows recent legal cases about employment status; including the Pimlico Plumber and Uber decisions.
February 22, 2017
If the Government will fail to achieve its goal of eliminating the gender pay gap in a generation if it continues to ignore the evidence which it is being given, a cross-party committee of MPs has said. The Women and Equalities Committee is disappointed with the Government’s response to a series of recommendations it put forward last March, which it says shows that the Government is not effectively tackling the structural causes of the gender pay gap. While the Government’s recognises the business case for reducing the gender pay gap and acknowledges structural factors contributing to the pay gap, including women doing jobs for which they are overqualified, concentration in part-time work, and being penalised for taking time out of work to raise children; it rejects most of the Committee’s seventeen evidence-based recommendations for addressing these issues. Instead it highlights gender pay gap reporting, as “key to accelerating progress,” and maintains that current policies on Shared Parental Leave, flexible working, and supporting women back into work are adequate.
February 21, 2017
Business rates are a substantial overhead for many businesses, and therefore those occupying a property need to be aware of the impact of the 1 April rates revaluation and the forthcoming changes to the rates valuation appeals process. The revaluation may affect the level of compensation payable to some business tenants seeking to renew their leases. Current business rateable values took effect in England and Wales on 1 April 2010, based on rateable values on 1 April 2008. However, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) is revising rateable values on 1 April 2017. While the rateable value of some properties is reducing, others (for example many London retail and restaurant premises) face a significant increase. You can check the draft values on the VOA website to see whether your property is due to change.
February 17, 2017
The CIPD and the High Pay Centre have launched a formal partnership to advocate fairer and more ethical approaches to pay and reward. Together they are calling for a major re-think of corporate governance to improve CEO pay transparency and ensure boards recognise their broader responsibility towards the workforce when decisions on executive pay and business investment are made. In their joint response to the Government’s green paper on corporate governance, which seeks views on how to curb excessive CEO pay and boost employee voice at board level, the CIPD and High Pay Centre point out that if FTSE 100 CEO pay continues to increase at the same rate for the next 20 years as it has for the last two decades, the average ratio between a CEO and average pay would increase from about 129:1 to more than 400:1. The CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese argues in the report that current levels of executive pay undermine both trust and sustainability and making small adjustments to current system isn’t the right approach.
February 7, 2017
With the UK facing at best, very slow growth, or even shrinkage, of the working population, future changes to migration levels into the UK due to Brexit could exacerbate the financial stresses and strains caused by the UK’s aging workforce. This is according to the Mercer Workforce Monitor™ which claims that companies will need to invest heavily in automation, sectors of society historically under-represented in the workforce and look at ways of increasing productivity. According to the analysis, since 2013, the levels of EU and non-EU born immigration into the UK workforce has filled a gap left by the aging of the nation’s UK-born workforce which sees more in this group leave the workforce – through retirement, emigration or death – than enter it. National growth is closely linked to workforce growth; so reducing its future size would create major headwinds for the UK economy and since another 3.4 million people will reach the age of 65 in 2030; unless the UK decides to make drastic changes to the funding of pensions, health and social care, this smaller working population will be required to proportionally spend more of their income to care for their older citizens.
February 2, 2017
The new gender pay reporting Regulations coming into force in April 31, but UK employers may be ill prepared to handle the requirements claims a new survey from XpertHR. The Regulations will require all employers with 250 or more employees to measure and report their gender pay gaps for the first time but XpertHR found that only 6.2 percent of employers had any formal mechanisms in place to monitor their gender pay gap before the legislation was announced. And, with the deadline date fast approaching, most admitted they don’t know how or when they will publish the results of the exercise. Although proposals to introduce mandatory reporting were announced in October 2015, over half (53.5 percent) of organisations had no monitoring in place before this time. Just over one-third claimed to have carried out “informal” monitoring in the past, while a handful (7.1 percent) did not know whether or not they had done so before the Regulations were announced.
January 26, 2017
Three quarters of UK employers (76 percent) expect economic conditions to be more challenging in 2017 compared to 2016 and there are signs that the jobs market is slowing, claims the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) latest JobsOutlook survey. Employers intending to increase their permanent staff headcount within the next three months has reduced to one in five (21 percent), down from 24 percent reported last month. Similarly, demand for permanent staff has reduced in all sectors except health & social care and education. More positively, despite harsh economic conditions, businesses remain self-confident with three quarters of employers polled (74 percent) saying that their business will perform better this year compared to last year. Skills shortages remain a challenge for businesses however, as half of all employers (50 percent) anticipate a shortage of suitable candidates for some permanent roles this year. Employers anticipate that roles in engineering & technology, health & social care, and hospitality will be particularly affected by skills shortages.
January 25, 2017
Only one in five workers in the UK still take the traditional lunch hour break; a stark contrast to France, which sees the lunch hour as a key part of the working day, a new survey by commercial property agency Savoystewart.co.uk claims. Digital marketers take the shortest breaks, taking a meagre average of 14-minutes, followed by recruiters and those in telesales. At the opposite end of the spectrum are media & communication professionals, who take almost their whole hour at 55 minutes. Some of the reasons cited for the shorter break were to please the boss, too much work to do, other colleagues don’t take lunch, there’s nowhere to go or one hour is too long. Half of those polled work right through their lunch break, 30 percent will take under 30 minutes off, 52 percent admit to eating over their desk most days and 27 percent deliberately take a shorter break to please their boss. Yet UK legislation actually allows for a 1 hour interrupted 20-minute rest break after working 6 hours+, and those who are under 18 are entitled to 30 minutes if working above 4.5 hours. Some work contracts may even allow for additional breaks alongside lunch, like tea breaks.
January 17, 2017
There’s been some concerns among employers on the long term implications to recruitment on the UK’s decision to leave the EU and now a new report suggests that it is among the job sectors where demand for EU workers to fulfill UK jobs is highest where there is the largest immediate dip in interest. The digital research looked at volumes of online searches within different sectors and countries, and the opinions and intent indicators of people investigating a move to the UK. The results reveal that interest in UK jobs for male dominated employment sectors continues to rise, for example in Poland a 22 percent increase in interest in construction jobs can be seen. In contrast, while there has been no obvious decrease in the number of jobs being advertised within the EU by UK employers, the level of interest in employment sectors that tend to attract couples and families are experiencing a decline.
January 12, 2017
The European Display Screen Equipment Regulations were first introduced in 1992 as a way of improving the posture and wellbeing of people working with computers in the office. Although welcome at the time as a way of promoting good ergonomics practices in a rapidly digitising world, that’s now a long time ago and the workplace has changed a great deal in the meantime. Here’s a list of thing that have happened in the intervening years: 1. The Internet. Actually, we can stop there. Any piece of workplace legislation that predates the Internet almost certainly won’t be fit for purpose, especially one that is based on how we should work with computers, let alone other devices. Yet there it all is on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website. It’s all so hopelessly out of date, it’s like starting a farm using a paleolithic cave painting as your guide to animal husbandry. The guidance is even called Working with VDUs which is certainly quaint, if nothing else.
January 12, 2017
Employee confidence in the UK has not been shaken by uncertainty around leaving the European Union, as 48 percent admit that they will be looking for a new job this year, claims a new survey by REED. The YouGov research asked more than 2,000 people about their careers in 2017, and found that 43 percent of employees are feeling optimistic about their career prospects, despite uncertainty created by the Brexit vote. Business confidence is also high with 53 percent of UK workers receiving a pay rise from their employer, compared to 41 percent found in the REED Market Insight 2015 – an increase equating to almost an eighth or an estimated four million UK workers according to recent ONS employment stats. While an increase in salary is still the primary motivation for people to look for a new job (51 percent), almost 38 percent (four in 10) would/ have move(d) for a better work-life balance and 33 percent, a third, for a better working environment.
January 10, 2017
Prime Minister Theresa May has announced a package of measures to address mental health support in schools, workplaces and communities. The plans, which aim to help ensure that no one affected by mental ill-health goes unattended also includes a new partnership with employers to improve mental health support in the workplace. The Prime Minister has appointed Lord Dennis Stevenson, the long-time campaigner for greater understanding and treatment of mental illness, and Paul Farmer CBE, CEO of Mind and Chair of the NHS Mental Health Taskforce, to drive work with business and the public sector to support mental health in the workplace. These experts will lead a review on how best to ensure employees with mental health problems are enabled to thrive in the workplace and perform at their best. This will involve practical help including promoting best practice and learning from trailblazer employers, as well as offering tools to organisations, whatever size they are, to assist with employee well-being and mental health. It will review recommendations around discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of mental health