131: And finally a look forward to what’s happening in employment news for December 2018
The Law Commission has published a consultation paper, ‘Employment Law Hearing Structures’, which reviews the jurisdictions of the Employment Tribunals, Employment Appeal Tribunal and the civil courts in employment and discrimination matters, and makes recommendations for their reform. The consultation contains a list of 54 questions with some provisional recommendations for change. For example, the Law Commission recommends that the £25,000 limit on contractual damages should be increased, and asks for views on the appropriate increase. It also proposes that an informal specialist list should be established within the High Court to deal with employment-related claims, and that Tribunals should have the power to make orders for contributions between respondents in discrimination cases. Other issues for consideration include whether Employment Tribunals should be given concurrent jurisdiction over non-employment discrimination claims, such as those relating to the provision of services; and whether Tribunals should be given the power to enforce their own judgments. However, the Law Commission also stresses that no major re-structuring of the Employment Tribunals system is proposed. Responses must be submitted by 11 January 2019.
The CIPD and Mind have jointly published an updated guide on mental health to improve the support given to those experiencing stress and mental health issues at work. Mental ill health is now the main cause of long-term sickness absence for 22% of organisations. However, research carried out by the CIPD found that only 32% of organisations train line managers to support staff with poor mental health. This new guide contains detailed practical advice for managers on prevention, early intervention, dealing with disclosure and poor performance, and supporting employees to return to work.
The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018, which received Royal Assent on 13 September 2018, will provide a new right to paid leave for bereaved parents. This Act was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill but was supported by the Government. It is expected to come into force in 2020 once the detailed provisions have been set out in regulations. All employed parents will be entitled to a day one right to two weeks’ leave if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Subject to meeting the eligibility criteria, employed parents will also be able to claim statutory parental bereavement pay for this period of leave.
The Work and Pensions Committee has launched an inquiry into whether recent Employment Tribunal rulings on employment status have resulted in any change to rights granted to the gig economy workers involved, such as those engaged by Uber, CitySprint and eCourier. The inquiry will hear evidence from workers, companies and trade unions in order to assess whether employers are complying with their legal obligations and to establish whether any immediate changes are needed to the law or to methods of enforcement. Its conclusions are due to be published before the end of this year.
The Institute of Business Ethics has published its 2018 survey on employees’ attitudes towards ethics in the workplace, based on employees in the UK, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland. 78% of respondents think that their organisation acts with honesty, although this ranges from 69% in Germany to 88% in Ireland. 30% of employees were aware of misconduct at work during the past year. This mainly involved people being treated inappropriately or unethically, misreporting hours and safety violations. Employees in the UK were the most likely to have reported misconduct, whilst respondents in Portugal were the least likely to have done so. 23% of employees said their organisation provides incentives to encourage employees to behave ethically, usually by including ethics in performance reviews. The survey also highlights the positive impact on employees of having a comprehensive ethics programme, such as written standards of ethical business conduct, training, a means of reporting misconduct confidentially and providing a helpline.