Employment Law Newsletter – Spring 2022

18th May 2022

A warm welcome to Blake Morgan’s Spring newsletter, keeping you informed of the latest developments in Employment, Pensions and Immigration Law.

It has certainly been a busy few months. Even though almost all of the COVID-19 restrictions have been removed across the country, many employers are now dealing with the practical issues not just concerning whether they should be testing of their own accord or prohibiting staff with COVID-19 from attending the workplace, but also arising out of the significant emerging impact of long COVID. ONS statistics show an increase month on month and recent statements from the Equality and Human Rights Commission about whether or not long COVID should be treated as a disability have caused some uncertainty for employers. Our article, Long COVID: what employers need to know looks at the legal and practical implications of long COVID and the steps that employers can take to support their staff.

We all know the importance of taking holidays and how they are essential to employee wellbeing. There have been longstanding campaigns to increase the number of bank holidays in the UK and although there are no permanent plans for this, next month will see an additional bank holiday to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. An additional bank holiday is to be welcomed but there are both practical and contractual implications for employers. For more details see our article on how organisations should manage bank holidays in 2022.

In addition, we hope you will enjoy our mixture of highly topical issues such as the Queen’s speech and the P&O Ferries sackings, combined with other practical issues of interest to employers.

A complete list of the articles is set out below.


Long COVID: what employers need to know

Although the rate of COVID-19 infections is falling across the UK, that is not the case for long COVID. According to the most recent ONS statistics, an estimated 1.8 million people in the UK are experiencing self-reported long COVID, up from 1.7 million the previous month. Long COVID raises many challenging issues for employers and many will be keen to support their employees suffering from it.

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How organisations should manage bank holidays in 2022

As part of the celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, there is an additional bank holiday on 3 June 2022. This change may have practical and contractual implications and it is vital that employers are aware of the relevant regulations relating to holidays. It is important to have a clear and consistent holiday request procedure and to plan well in advance for potential staffing issues.

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The Queen’s speech – are there implications for Employment law?

As we know, the Employment Bill pledged in 2019 was once again not announced in the Queen’s speech last week. Does this mean that many proposals may not be carried forward at all, and, more importantly, what draft legislation was announced that could affect Employment law?

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Challenging the “authority gap”

The “authority gap” is the pervasive underestimation of women’s competence where women are often taken less seriously than men in their public and professional lives. Closing or narrowing the “authority gap” and tackling unconscious bias can help organisations succeed and studies have shown that it can help in creating a happier and healthier society.

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Increasing diversity in the workplace

With many employers aspiring to improve the diversity of its workforce, it is important that this is achieved within the law. Positive discrimination is generally prohibited, however, there are exceptions under the Equality Act 2010, for example, during recruitment and promotion exercises to encourage and train people from under-represented groups if candidates are of equal merit.

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Providing a reference: the do’s and don’ts

Deciding whether to provide a reference or not, and knowing what to include can be difficult. The law in this area is complex and employers’ obligations are extensive. They have a duty to the subject of the reference to take reasonable care to ensure that the information provided is true, accurate and fair and does not give a misleading impression. Employers also have a duty of care towards any prospective employers and an inaccurate or misleading reference could lead to potential claims.

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What is a “gagging order” and when are they used?

A “gagging order” is a term used to describe contractual confidentiality and non-disclosure obligations, usually in relation to specific allegations or events. General confidentiality clauses are a common feature in employment contracts and are used by employers to protect their confidential information to prevent unfair competition. The use of confidentiality and non-disclosure obligations where allegations have been made of unlawful treatment are more controversial however.

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P&O Ferries sackings: the implications

The sacking of almost 800 workers in an admitted breach of UK employment law caused shock and outrage. Even though all but one of P&O’s workers have reportedly accepted the severance terms offered this is unlikely to be the end of the matter despite the limited actions the Government can in fact take.

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Employee wellbeing: an employer’s issue?

There is an increasing focus by employers on employees’ “wellbeing”. Many employers are taking a range of proactive measures to support mental health and to create a more open culture in recognition of the fact that employers have an important role to play in supporting wellbeing, a move which is beneficial to both employers and their employees.

Read more

Employment Webinar

Our recent Employment webinar Talent Management: Recruitment, Engagement and Retention was very well received and thank you to those who attended and for your contributions to the various surveys and polls. If you were unable to attend, please find a link to the recording here. Our next Employment webinar will be in September and we will provide details of the topics and date in due course.

Group Life Assurance Webinar: what you need to know

An incorrect group life structure or an out of date scheme may result in unnecessary tax liabilities and cause delays to the payment of benefits. In our webinar on 16 June, Pensions partner Rupert Graham-Evans will explore some common pitfalls and issues for businesses associated with governance of group life schemes.

Read more

I hope you will find all the articles above informative and helpful, and if you would like any further information please do not hesitate to get in touch with your usual Blake Morgan contact.

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