96: And finally a look forward to what’s happening in employment news for June 2018
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a report looking at how employers deal with sexual harassment, using evidence collected from around 1,000 individuals and employers between December 2017 and February 2018 (Turning the tables – ending sexual harassment at work). The report uses this evidence to make a number of recommendations for improving protection for victims of sexual harassment. These include introducing a mandatory duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent workplace harassment; a new statutory code of practice on preventing harassment; a requirement for employers to publish harassment policies online; extending the time limit for harassment claims from three to six months; and the re-introduction of repealed Equality Act provisions dealing with third party harassment and statutory questionnaires. The report also recommends a legislative ban on the use of non-disclosure agreements and confidentiality clauses to prevent employees speaking out about future acts of harassment or discrimination, and improved regulation of confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements.
The House of Commons’ Select Committee on Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has launched an inquiry into executive pay in the context of continuing concerns about the overall level of executive pay and bonuses. Following on from the previous BEIS Committee report in April 2017, this will focus, in particular, on progress made in simplifying the structure of executive pay and pay reporting; and the role of remuneration committees, institutional investors and shareholders in curbing excessive pay. The Committee has invited written submissions on improvements made to executive pay reporting and the steps taken to curb excessive pay in the last 12 months, as well as on further measures which should be considered. It is also likely to examine the use of clawback provisions that enable the recovery of cash and share bonuses in the event of poor performance. Evidence is required by 8 May, with a hearing scheduled for 16 May 2018.
The parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee has published a report on fathers in the workplace. This calls on the Government to make a number of improvements to fathers’ rights at work in order to keep up with social change and to help address the causes of the gender pay gap. A number of recommendations are made for legislative change, including removing the qualifying period for paternity leave to make it a ‘day one’ right; increasing statutory paternity pay to 90% of earnings (subject to a cap for high earners); amending the Equality Act 2010 to make paternity a protected characteristic; and replacing the shared parental leave system with an additional 12 week paid paternal leave entitlement, to be taken in the first year. The Committee also asks the Government to bring forward proposed legislation to ensure that all new jobs are available for flexible working by default.
The third reading of the Unpaid Work Experience (Prohibition) Bill 2017-2019 is scheduled for 26 April 2018. This private members’ bill is seeking to prohibit unpaid work experience exceeding four weeks. It proposes amendments to the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 to ensure that people undertaking work experience for longer than four weeks with the same employer, and who are above the compulsory school age (but under the age of 26), receive the national minimum wage. Another private members’ bill, the Unpaid Trial Work Periods (Prohibition) Bill 2017-19, aims to prohibit unpaid trial work periods in certain circumstances and is due to complete its second reading shortly. This bill would also ensure that individuals understand how long a trial will last and what roles can be offered after the trial period ends, and are provided with feedback.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has published a consultation on parental bereavement leave and pay which will provide details for the regulations needed to implement the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill 2017-19. The Bill would give employees who lose a child below the age of 18 (including a stillbirth after 24 weeks) the right to at least two weeks’ leave, irrespective of length of service, to be taken within 56 days of the child’s death; at least two weeks’ statutory bereavement pay; and protection from detriment, redundancy and dismissal as a result of taking bereavement leave. The consultation seeks views on who should be included in the definition of a parent; how the two weeks’ leave should be taken, for example, in a single block, or non-consecutive blocks; whether the period within which leave should be taken should be longer than 56 days; and whether notice and evidence should be required. Responses must be submitted by 8 June 2018.