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Employment law in the news

First up this month is the news that the government have rejected the petition started by Nicola Thorp to introduce a law preventing businesses from telling women to wear high heels.

Ms Thorp started the petition after being sent home from her work for wearing flat shoes.  The petition quickly gathered momentum obtaining the required number of signatures to have the matter considered by Parliament. The subsequent parliamentary investigation concluded that “dress codes which require women to wear high heels for extended periods of time are damaging to their health and wellbeing in both the short and the long term”. The investigation also concluded hat there were “not currently enough disincentives to prevent employers breaching the law”. However, despite this, the Government announced in April that existing legislation was adequate to protect women in the workplace.

The news that 20 million people in the UK are inactive has focused the attention of the media on to work based exercise recently.  For those who can't find the time to get to the gym the news that cycling to work can cut cancer and heart disease will be welcome, as will the suggestion of office based activities such as yoga, or running groups heading out from the office.   And the good news for businesses is that the studies suggest that employees return from their activities refreshed and more focussed on their work. See more on this topic on our blog of the month section.

After months of negative publicity about the way in which they treat their workers, Sports Direct has elected its first employee representative to the Board.  The move is the implementation of one of a number of measures set out by the company in an attempt to counter the criticisms about working practices. The company has recently seen a 25% drop in half year profits.

It seems that the gender pay gap is an issue even in the highest echelons of British business.  Recent research by the Times newspaper has found that female FTSE 100 chief executives earn only about half of what their male counterparts are paid.  The research found that the median pay package for a female was £1.9 million while it was £3.45 million for men.

Employees have been through the introduction of open plan offices, clear desk policies and hot desking and now it's the turn of freelancers to share workspace.  According to a recent survey  renting co-working spaces is going to be a growth business.  The sector is expected to grow from just under 1 million users in 2016 to 4 million by 2020.  One of the anticipated benefits for freelancers derives from the feeling of community the shared workspaces create.