Employment Law Updates (July-Sept)

With us being about three months away from a new year, we look at some employment law updates and changes that have made the headlines in the third quarter of 2023.

Legislative Updates

  1. Predictable Working Patterns: On 18th September, the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 passed through the House of Lords and received royal assent. This is said to be quite beneficial for zero-hour contract workers or any atypical worker as it will give them more control over their schedule.
  2. Flexible working: The Flexible Working bill received royal assent on 20th July 2023. The Act, which will probably come into effect in 2024, will allow employees to make two requests (instead of one) for flexible working in any 12-month period and employers would have to decide within two months (instead of three). Additionally, employees will not have to explain why they have applied for flexible working anymore. This bill is said to be beneficial for millions of workers as not only does it allow them more control over work but, according to the UK government, employees will be able to request flexible working from day one of their jobs.
  3. Minimum Service: Along with flexible working. the Strikes Bill also received royal assent on 20th July 2023. This new law has been put into place to ensure that there are minimum service levels during strikes so that the general public has access to services. At present, this minimum service regulation has been extended to rail, fire and rescue, and ambulance services.

    However, a new consultation is said to be taking place which will discuss if this should also be extended to emergency hospital services. Health and Social Secretary Steve Barclay said, in an online press release, that his priority is his patients. He further adds, “These regulations would provide a safety net for trusts and an assurance to the public that vital health services will be there when they need them.”

Employment Law Update – Case Laws

  1. Fischer v London United Busways Ltd: The ET ruled that an employer has to take “all reasonable steps” to prevent discrimination. The claimant is a transwoman, and while she lost this case, the ET said that using gendered swearwords can be discrimination. And hence, employers need to make sure all reasonable steps are taken such as updating policies, focusing on inclusion and raising awareness.
  2. Forstater v CGD Europe: After ET did not side with her claim in 2019, Maya Forstater was awarded over £100,000 after her case was reheard this year. This time, the tribunal concluded that she was discriminated against based on her views as she was not offered employment and a fellowship. She was also removed from the company website. Read about the case.
  3. Jhuti v Royal Mail: Labelled as one of the largest ever payouts in an unfair dismissal case, Ms Jhuti was unfairly dismissed from her role after she pointed out fraudulent activities to her boss. Her boss then made her retract her statement and harassed her till she was dismissed with three months’ notice. ET asked Royal Mail to compensate employees and give directions stating that it is appropriate to use the Ogden Tables to calculate lump sum compensation – especially for career-long losses. Read about the case.
  4. Greasly-Adams v Royal Mail Group Ltd: Employees of the claimant made a bullying and harassment complaint against the claimant, who suffered from Asperger syndrome and was recognised as disabled under Section 6 of the Equality Act. This company investigated this report and found that the complaints against the claimant were true. However, during the investigation, the claimant got to know that the colleagues had also made comments about his disability which led him to file a claim against them for harassment.

    The ET and EAT held that since he was not aware of the comments made against him at the time, and it did not affect him in any way, it was not harassment. This decision makes it clear that in order for a harassment claim to succeed, the victim has to know of the harassment.

 Guidance Published

  1. CIPD Manifesto for Good Work: CIPD has published a new manifesto that asks the UK government policymakers to create changes that will help employers recruit, develop and retain their workforce, so as to create a sustainable economy.
  2. AI: A research paper has been published by the House of Commons Library on AI and employment law that looks at the legal implications of using AI and proposes regulatory reform.
  3. NDA in the Workplace: The SRA published an analysis of using NDAs in workplace complaints. They received evidence that employers were using NDAs to keep employees from complaining about misconduct and harassment. This review also offers advice to employees signing an NDA.
  4. Disability Action Plan: The Government launched a consultation in July that raises awareness about tech that can help disabled people. People of the public are welcome to comment on the consultation until 06 October 2023. Follow the link to respond.
  5. Claim and Response forms: Another key employment law update is the new ET1 and ET3 forms have been issued by HMCTS. These need to be used by parties for litigation.
  6. Parental Leave: In a newly published response by the Government, a few new changes were proposed to support working fathers and partners. Now, employed fathers and partners will be able to:
    – Take two weeks’ leave in two separate blocks.
    – Take leave and pay at any point after the birth or adoption of their child.
    – Give notice 15 weeks prior to expected birth and also 4 weeks’ notice before each leave.