In this article, we highlight some key decisions and legislation of which employers should be aware in 2022 such as the Employment Bill, increase in statutory pay rate in April 20202 and decisions on discrimination and holiday pay
Following on from part one of our two-part virtual mini-series “Back in the office: The evolving debate on vaccine mandates, and other Covid-safe measures”, in part two, Stephen Ratcliffe and Richard Cook dissect two particularly thorny issues that employers are currently dealing with in relation to the return to the office: reluctant returners and tensions surrounding vaccinations and the wearing of masks.
On 19 July 2021, most COVID-19 related restrictions were lifted in England. However, the government cautioned against an immediate full return to the office, saying that it expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer, emphasizing employers’ obligations to ensure a safe place of work.
Indirect sex discrimination claims about working patterns and hours are sometimes based on the premise that women are less able than men to comply with an employer’s requirements because they are more likely to have childcare responsibilities.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held that the lack of protection from detriment for participating in industrial action under section 146 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULRCA) was a breach of Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) which guarantees the right to freedom of assembly and the right of workers to form and join trade unions. The EAT held that it was possible to read such protection into section 146.
The government has published its response to its consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace, which closed in October 2019. When parliamentary time allows, the government will legislate to introduce a new duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and introduce explicit protections for harassment from third parties such as customers and clients.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled in two German cases that a ban on wearing any visible signs of political, philosophical or religious belief is not direct discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief provided it is applied in a general and undifferentiated way. Such a policy may be indirectly discriminatory unless it can be objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary.
The government has published updated guidance for employers that applies in England from Monday 19 July 2021, to coincide with the ending of almost all remaining mandatory COVID-19 related restrictions. The upshot of the guidance is that the government shifts responsibility to employers to determine when and how to initiate, or ramp up, a return to the office, including what ongoing safety measures might be required.
A belief that biological sex is immutable is a protected belief under the Equality Act 2010, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled. The case will now return to the employment tribunal to decide whether the claimant was discriminated against because of her belief when her consultancy contract was not renewed.