3 January 2018

And Finally A Look Forward To What's Happening In Employment News For January 2018

The Government has issued updated guidance on how businesses should comply with the Modern Slavery Act 2017.
UK Employment and HR
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The Government has issued updated guidance on how businesses should comply with the Modern Slavery Act 2017. This requires that any commercial organisation in any sector which supplies goods or services, and carries on a business or part of a business in the UK above a turnover threshold of £36 million, must produce a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year. The statement must include the steps the organisation has taken to ensure that slavery is not taking place in any part of its own business or in its supply chains. The new guide contains advice on legislative requirements, best practice when writing and publishing a slavery and human trafficking statement, and how to respond to an incident of modern slavery.

An Ethnicity Facts and Figures website has been launched to publicise data about ethnicity collected by various Government departments. This follows the recent audit of race disparities in public services which covered over 130 different areas including health, education, training and employment. Key findings from the audit included the under-representation of ethnic minorities at senior levels across the public sector; and higher employment rates for white people than for ethnic minorities across the country, with a larger gap in the north than in the south. It is intended that the website data will be updated and expanded over time.

Following a period of consultation, the independent Parker Review Committee has published its final report into the ethnic diversity of UK boards. The report highlights that the boards of listed companies currently do not reflect the ethnic diversity of UK society in general, or the stakeholders represented by those companies. It also makes recommendations as to succession planning; and that details of the Board's policy on improving ethnic diversity should be included in annual reports. At present, companies are being encouraged to adopt these recommendations on a voluntary basis. However, the Committee emphasised that it may revisit that approach if insufficient progress is made.

The British Medical Association and Health Education England (HEE), the training body for junior doctors, have reached an agreement that will protect junior doctors in England if they are subjected to detrimental treatment by HEE as a result of whistleblowing. Until now, junior doctors have not been protected in respect of HEE unless they were covered by the extended definition of 'worker' in the whistleblowing legislation. Under this new agreement, which also has the approval of the Department of Health and NHS Employers, junior doctors have a contractual right to bring whistleblowing proceedings against HEE in the County Court or High Court. This right will apply to doctors who have been appointed by HEE to a training contract and have a training number, and will take effect retrospectively from 3 August 2016.

The Institute for Apprenticeships was set up in April 2017 as a non-departmental public body. It has now launched its new website. As well as setting out information on the Institute's role and its governance framework, the website includes information on developing new apprenticeship standards, and the monitoring and assessment of apprenticeships. The Institute is currently considering responses to its consultation on a draft Quality Statement which will set out the requirements and expectations of high quality apprenticeships.

Acas has published new guidance to help employers manage mental health in the workplace. This includes advice on spotting the signs of mental ill health; how to support and talk to an employee who may be experiencing mental ill health; adjusting work schedules and responsibilities; and helping employees return to work. Acas has also updated its guide on promoting positive mental health in the workplace. A recent independent review of mental health and employment, commissioned by the Government, highlights that around 15% of people at work have symptoms of an existing mental health condition and cites the cost of poor mental health to UK employers as between £33 billion and £42 billion a year. The review recommends that all UK employers, regardless of size or industry, should adopt six mental health core standards:

  • implement a mental health at work plan;
  • develop mental health awareness among employees;
  • encourage open conversations about mental health;
  • provide good working conditions and a healthy work-life balance;
  • promote effective people management through line managers and supervisors; and
  • routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.

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