Employment Law Newsletter – Summer 2021


22nd July 2021

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

With the easing of lockdown restrictions in all parts of the country and many people planning a holiday, whether in the UK or overseas, we can hopefully look forward to a better summer than last year. However, there are still challenges facing employers. As some people return to their workplace for the first time in many months, they may be anxious and employers will have to reassure their staff about the health and safety measures they have put in place and how they are supporting employee wellbeing. Our article on the care needed to avoid health and safety dismissal claims and the latest guidance for England is very relevant in this regard.

In the immigration context, these have been busy months for employers. Whether it is supporting staff in their applications under the EU Settlement Scheme or managing right to work checks, keeping up to date with Government Guidance has been crucial. We look at these and other immigration developments in our article here.

You may also have seen yesterday the announcement of the Government’s Response to the consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace. It will be interesting to see if the suggested positive duty to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace will be any stronger than the existing “all reasonable steps” defence that employers can put forward. Third party harassment, which was introduced with the Equality Act 2010, then abolished, will now be reintroduced. We understand that the Government is also considering introducing a six month time limit to bring claims under the Equality Act 2010, and have stated all this will be taken forward “in due course”. We will keep you updated on how significant these changes will be and when any further steps are actually made to introduce them.

As well as the articles below, a recording of our latest webinar ‘Employment law update and legal implications of managing new ways of working’ is available here. This looks at new ways of working – agile, flexible, hybrid, smart or home working – which raise significant employment law implications, as well as an update on the latest COVID and non-COVID cases and developments you need to be aware of. It is accompanied by links to relevant case studies and articles, which we hope you will find informative. We hope you enjoy the recording and will be able to join our next live webinar in the Autumn.

Articles

A complete list of the articles is set out below:

Right to work checks – end of grace period and new procedure for EEA and Swiss Nationals

In the immigration context, 30 June 2021 was a significant date. It marked the end of the temporary grace period for right to work checks for EEA and Swiss nationals and the last date for applications under the EU Settlement Scheme. Our article looks at these developments and the implications for employers.

Compulsory vaccinations for anyone working in care homes in England

Parliament has voted in favour of compulsory COVID-19 vaccinations for those working in CQC-registered care homes in England, giving rise to mixed reactions. Read more here.

Face coverings in the workplace

From 19 July 2021 in England, it is no longer a legal requirement to wear a face covering in public places, for example, whilst in a supermarket or using public transport. However, the message coming from Government is that people should continue to do so and more and more organisations are making announcements that they plan to continue the policy, with some making it mandatory. How should employers approach this?

Fire and rehire in the spotlight

Contractual variations have become increasingly prevalent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The use of so-called “fire and rehire” has become a controversial issue leading the Government to ask Acas to conduct an evidence-gathering exercise to learn more about the practice and the Acas report was published on 8 June 2021. Read our look at fire and rehire here.

UK GDPR adequacy recognition approved by Brussels

In a welcome development, free flows of personal data from the EU to the UK under the current streamlined rules can now continue as the EU has approved a new personal data transfer deal which may include personal data concerning staff. Read about the adequacy decisions here.

How to handle holiday requests during the pandemic

Summer is here at last but with holiday plans uncertain for many, what is the legal position and what practical considerations should employers be taking into account where holiday requests from staff do not coincide with employers’ wishes? Read more about holiday requests here.

Dismissal for implementing a new safety procedure which caused friction with colleagues was automatically unfair

UK legislation provides extensive health and safety protection for employees who have responsibility for carrying out health and safety activities. That protection is not lost even if the way in which the activities are carried out causes friction with other staff. Read more about the health and safety protection for employees here.

Right to work checks extended to 31 August 2021

The temporary COVID-19 adjusted right to work checks will end on 31 August 2021 and from 1 September 2021, employers will have to resume carrying out manual checks on an applicant’s right to work documents, either at a face-to-face meeting or via a live video link. Read about right to work checks here.

Clarification about comparators in Equal Pay claims

Recent equal pay decisions in the private sector have potentially far-reaching consequences as they mean that employees can compare themselves with an individual who works in a different establishment in a different role. Read what you need to know about equal pay claims here.

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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articles

21 July - Tim Forer
Parliament has voted in favour of compulsory COVID-19 vaccinations for those working in CQC-registered care homes in England, giving rise to mixed reactions. Read More

articles

21 July - Vicky Schollar
From 19 July 2021 it is no longer a legal requirement to wear a face covering in public places in England, for example, whilst in a supermarket or using public... Read More

articles

20 July - Melodie Thompson
Recent equal pay decisions have potentially far reaching consequences. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) recently determined in K and others v Tesco Stores Ltd (Case C-624/19)... Read More