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The Supreme Court has delivered its ruling on the landmark Pimlico Plumbers case, upholding previous decisions that an ostensibly ‘self employed’ plumber was in fact properly classified as a ‘worker’ with valuable employment rights under UK law (including discrimination protection and holiday pay). The case has been closely monitored because of its impact on organisations

A year after the introduction of the business reporting obligation in the Modern Slavery Act 2015 we take a look at the approach taken to statements to date and possible future developments in this area.

Introduction

Modern slavery and human trafficking are two of the biggest human rights challenges of our time. The Modern Slavery Act 2015 seeks to tackle these issues in a number of ways, including imposing a requirement on organisations carrying out a business (or part of a business) in the UK, and with a turnover of £36 million or more, to publish an annual modern slavery statement.

The statement must detail the steps the organisation is taking to ensure that modern slavery and human trafficking are not present in its business or global supply chains. The statement must be signed by a director and a link to the statement must be included in a prominent place on the organisation’s website homepage. Companies with a year end of 31 March should already have published their statement, whereas those with a 31 December year end are due to publish in the first half of 2017, giving the latter the advantage of being able to review and benchmark their statements against those already published.

For background on the reporting requirement in the Act, please see our blog post of October 2015.

One year on, the question is what approach are companies taking to their Modern Slavery Act statements, how much interest have the press and consumer groups shown on this topic and what does this say about the initial success of the reporting obligation?

Continue Reading Modern Slavery Business Reporting: Beyond Compliance

At the start of July, in just one of the ever stranger twists and turns taken by the UK’s main political parties this summer, Andrea Leadsom was caught in a storm of questions about the true nature of her 25-year track record in the City of London. The pressure eventually led her campaign team to

With instances of whistleblowing hitting the press on an ever-increasing basis, does UK law do enough to protect employees who blow the whistle on their employer’s wrongdoing? According to a new report published by the international NGO, Blueprint for Free Speech, and the Thomson Reuters Foundation (the “Report”), the answer to this question is a resounding no. The Report identifies a number of deficiencies in the current statutory regime and argues that the UK falls short of international standards. It goes on to propose 10 urgent reforms and 10 further recommendations.

Background

Whistleblowing occurs when a worker reports or exposes (in most instances to his/her employer, but potentially also to the appropriate regulator or even the press) certain wrongdoing or malpractice in the workplace. English law provides certain protection against victimisation and dismissal related to whistleblowing. Since June 2013, workers – to be protected – must have a reasonable belief that the disclosure is “in the public interest”.
Continue Reading Protecting Whistleblowers in the UK – Is the Law Sufficient?

On 1 October 2016, regulations are expected to come into force in the UK which will require large private and voluntary sector employers to report annually on gender pay gap information. To give employers time to get to grips with the new obligation, the Government is expected to set 29 April 2018 as the deadline for the first report. However, with a lot of work to do to prepare, this is not as far away as it seems – particularly given that companies will be required to report on bonuses paid for a 12-month period which started 1 May 2016.

We explain below what employers should be doing now to get their house in order and to ensure they are ready to report on time and in a way which promotes and protects their businesses.
Continue Reading Gender Pay Gap Reporting – Why It Matters Now

The UK Government has published new guidance for employers regarding the recruitment and retention of transgender staff. Its stated aim is to make sure employers are equipped to create an inclusive culture for all of their staff and act as a practical guide for managers. The guidance emphasises that there is a strong business case for employers to get this right, as diverse skills are important for employers in all sectors and there is a wealth of research to show that workplaces that are more inclusive are also more productive.

The guidance makes clear that a person can change gender with or without medical intervention and the guidance applies in both scenarios. This reflects discrimination legislation under which there is no requirement for medical diagnosis or treatment in order to gain protection against discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment.

The guidance sets out good practice in relation to recruitment procedures, application processes, equality monitoring and HR procedures – as well as advice on how organisations can make sure they present themselves as an inclusive employer on their websites and other branding. The guidance also covers advice on inducting and retaining transgender employees, including specific help for employers around supporting a member of staff who is planning to transition.

Some practical tips from this guidance are as follows:

Continue Reading Guidance on the Recruitment and Retention of Transgender Staff in the UK

Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act (MSA) requires certain businesses to publish an annual statement explaining what steps they are taking to ensure there is no modern slavery within their own business and their supply chains. During consultation on this measure, businesses repeatedly called for effective and practical guidance on what a modern slavery statement should look like. That long awaited guidance was published today. Below, we look through the typos and duplications contained in the guidance to report on the good bits and the bad, and consider what businesses should be doing now.

For background on the reporting requirement in the MSA, please see our blog posts of 22 July and 29 July, and listen to our podcast.
Continue Reading Government publishes guidance on the reporting obligation in the Modern Slavery Act

In May 2014, in an attempt to simplify the Tribunal system and make it more efficient, the Government imposed a duty on claimants to attempt early conciliation through Acas before bringing a claim. A recent report provides information about the impact of Acas Early Conciliation in its first year.

The Early Conciliation Process

The Acas Early Conciliation process (“EC”) was introduced by the Government on 6 April 2014, and became mandatory from 6 May 2014. All prospective claimants in the Employment Tribunal must now go through the EC process and obtain an EC certificate from Acas before bringing a claim.

Once the prospective claimant contacts Acas, a Conciliation Officer will explore over the period of one month, whether settlement is possible between the parties. If a party is not interested in settlement, or if the Conciliation Offer considers that settlement is not possible, an EC certificate will be issued to the claimant. Neither party is obliged to conciliate.


Continue Reading Acas Early Conciliation – One Year On

This morning the Prime Minister made an important announcement regarding the new reporting requirement in the Modern Slavery Act. David Cameron confirmed that businesses with a turnover of £36 million or more will be caught by the Act and will therefore be required to produce an annual slavery and human trafficking statement from October 2015.