Employment Law Round Up - May 2023

Morton Fraser Consultant Carrie Mitchell
Carrie Mitchell
24 April 2023

Our monthly employment law round up.

Research finds continuing workplace inequality for LGBT+ young adults

Recent research by LBGT+ young people's charity Just Like Us has highlighted continuing inequalities between LGBT+ and non-LGBT+ workers.  Headline findings include that 25% of LGBT+ young adults said they went "back into the closet" when they started work and that 19% experienced bullying compared to 14% of non-LGBT+ workers.   14% of LGBT+ young workers said they rarely or never felt able to be themselves at work, with this figure increasing to 20% for transgender workers.  Transgender young adults were also the least likely to be employed.  The research also found significant salary disparities based on both ender and LGBT+ identity.

Increase in numbers using shared parental leave but overall take up very low

Figures published recently by the UK Government have shown that the numbers taking shared parental leave have increased each year since it was introduced.  However, the total number using it still remains very low, with only 13,000 taking it in 2021/22.  The UK Government also confirmed that they are still considering responses to the 2019 consultation on reform of parental leave and pay.

Review of whistleblowing framework launched

A review of the current whistleblowing framework, triggered by findings that 25% of Covid-19 whistleblowers were dismissed, has been launched and is expected to run until autumn 2023.  Views are sought on the effectiveness of the current regime, enabling workers to speak up about wrongdoing and protecting those who do.  Key topics to be reviewed will be who is covered by the whistleblowing protections, the availability of information and guidance and how employers and prescribed persons respond to whistleblowing disclosures including best practice.

P&O redundancies leads to Seafarers Wages Act 2023 coming into force

The Seafarers Wages Act 2023, which was enacted in response to the mass redundancies by P&O Ferries in 2022, has come into force.  It applies to seafarers, irrespective of their nationality, who work on ships that use UK ports at least 120 times a year and provides that they must be paid a rate at least equivalent to the UK national minimum wage while in UK waters.  The ship's flag is irrelevant.  Harbour authorities can request that ship operators provide a declaration confirming the correct rate of pay is being paid while in the UK or its territorial waters.  In cases of non-compliance harbour authorities can charge operators and refuse access to the harbour.

IPPR makes workplace surveillance recommendations

An Institute for Public Policy Research report has made a number of recommendations in light of expanded workplace surveillance and algorithmic decision-making practices.  These include:-

  • recommending the use of a publicly available "worker monitoring statements" by employers making monitoring decisions and GDPR compliance more transparent;
  • employees being given access to the data being collected, and empowered to challenge monitoring decisions;
  • the introduction of a statutory right for workers to disconnect; and
  • the UK Government strengthening protections against automated decision-making including a right to a personalised explanation of how algorithmic decisions are reached where their impact is significant.

Whether these recommendations result in any Government action remains to be seen.

Autism employment review announced

The Department of Work and Pensions have announced a review focussing on how the UK Government can support employers to recruit and retain autistic staff.  This will include considering both how employers can provide support and how autistic people can be more effectively prepared for joining the workforce.  Businesses, employment organisations, specialist support groups and autistic people will be asked to contribute.  The review begins in May, and it is proposed that the recommendations arising from it will be presented by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in September.


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