20 Jan 2019

New Code of Practice to tackle sexual harassment at work

The Government has announced that there will be a new Code of Practice so that employers better understand their legal responsibilities to protect their staff, as part of a package of commitments to tackle sexual harassment at work.

Responding to the Women and Equalities Select Committee report, the Government Equalities Office also promised to carry out awareness raising work with Acas, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and employers on how to prevent and address sexual harassment at work; to work with regulators to ensure they are taking action; and to commission survey data on the prevalence of sexual harassment at work.

The Government will also consult on:

  • Non-disclosure agreements.
  • How to strengthen and clarify the laws in relation to third party harassment.
  • The evidence base for introducing a new legal duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

ET penalty enforcement and new naming scheme

If an employee wins an employment tribunal (ET) case and the employer does not pay, the employee can ask to have them fined and named publicly. The employer will get a warning notice giving them 28 days to pay. If they still fail to pay, they will be fined and may be named by the Government. Penalty notices apply to judgments given on or after 6 April 2016 and naming applies to judgments registered with the naming scheme on or after 18 December 2018.

The scheme is structured similarly to the existing scheme for National Minimum Wage underpayment and will name employers, along with the unpaid ET award, approximately quarterly in a press release on Gov.uk. The objective of the naming scheme is to increase the rates of timely payment of ET awards by creating a new deterrent to employers for not paying.

ETs set to pilot online trials

The ETs are set to host the pilot of an end-to-end online service for hearing claims, with video hearings of the kind trialled in the tax tribunal for both case management hearings, and simpler cases.

New EAT Practice Direction

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has issued a new Practice Direction (Employment Appeal Tribunal - Procedure) 2018. The main new provisions extend the time for a respondent to lodge its answer to an appeal from 14 to 28 days, delete references to fees, and set out the practice for "leapfrog" appeals to the Supreme Court.

White Paper on the UK's future immigration system

The Government has published a pre-Brexit immigration white paper.

The legislative proposals in this document include:

  • a skilled workers route for immigration open to all nationalities
  • lowering of the skills threshold on the skilled workers route to include medium-skilled workers
  • no cap on numbers on the skilled workers route, meaning that businesses will be able to hire any suitable qualified migrant
  • the abolition of the resident labour market test
  • a new time limited route for temporary short-term workers of all skill levels, including seasonal low-skilled workers
  • an extension to the post-study period for international students.

And finally - back to work blues?

British people take an average of four days to adjust fully to work after the Christmas and New Year holiday period, according to a recent survey. A study of 2,000 adults found most people will not begin functioning properly until almost a full working week has passed.