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REMOTE/HYBRID WORKING – HEAVEN OR HELL?

Originally posted by Cas Carrington of KLC Employment Law

We’ve heard so much lately about the benefits of remote or hybrid working.   How it improves work-life balance because it saves on all those hours wasted commuting, which can be put to better use and of course it makes popping out to collect the children from school or nursery so much easier. I think that all sounds great but, but without wishing to appear naïve or out of step, what happens to the children once they have been collected from school?  Do they look after themselves?  Do they make themselves snacks and drinks and settle down to do homework? And what happens during the school holidays?  Will children organise interesting and healthy activities for themselves to do all day at home?  If that sounds like your domestic arrangement then well done, you have achieved a great thing.

But are we really achieving a better work-life balance, or are we just blurring the lines between work and home in a way that could lead to some unhealthy unintended outcomes?

What about the gender work split that is almost inevitable in a move to remote working?  Research shows that women with young children are far more likely to opt for home working than men with young children.  And as much as we tell ourselves that being present at work shouldn’t make any difference to career advancement opportunities, in many work environments, it really still does.

There’s also the matter of age to consider.  Young people who are living in shared accommodation, and/or have limited space with no bespoke office space, will probably want to escape and go back into the office, whereas older, more financially established, employees will more likely have a home office (or maybe two), to choose to work from.

Please feel free to challenge me on this but from what I’ve seen, less experienced employees benefit immensely from just being around their more experienced colleagues and just watching and listening to them, and if they’re not mixing on a day to day basis, no amount of video meetings will plug that gap. The Chancellor of the Exchequer stated the same just recently when he called for young people to return to the ‘office’ when they were able to.  His view is that if he had had to rely on video meetings earlier in his career and not had interaction with mentors and been able to make business connections in the office, he would not have advanced through the ranks. Well that’s all well and good but if the more experienced employees continue to work from home, there won’t be any such interactions.

Employers who are embarking on hybrid working models suggest that it’s the best of both worlds as employees have the opportunity of attending the workplace a couple of days a week and interacting with others.  They suggest that video meetings will be held at regular intervals to keep the team spirt alive.  But will that work? By their very nature video meetings inhibit full communication and I have my doubts that they produce that spontaneous creativity so prized by most organisations.

For decades we have acknowledged that diverse workforces are an integral part of organisational success and yet we appear to be prepared to throw that all away in an eye-blink, and set up the possibility of cliquey homogenous work groups forming.

In this move to a brave new way of working, some employers don’t appear to be addressing the issue that work output may not be quite so efficient, effective, easily measurable, or inspirational, or that employees might face alienation, loneliness, unfair treatment or discrimination.  So what if standards slip a little?  Is saving money on expensive work space and utility bills, while keeping employees ostensibly happy, a win/win situation?  Perhaps, but only time will tell.

My misgivings go further than just work and I wonder that in pursuing remote or hybrid working on a grand scale that we are in danger of widening the socio-economic divide. After all, there can be no luxury of work-life balance for the likes of bus, or delivery drivers, or supermarket workers.

Remote or hybrid working may seem at first glance to improve work-life balance, and there’s no doubt that in some circumstances it certainly can, but unless we take measures to mitigate the downsides now, employers and employees may see that the short-term gains give way to far more division and discrimination than we ever bargained for and the strides we have made for workplace equality and fairness are pushed back a long, long way.

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SECTION 44 ERA AMENDED TO PROVIDE MORE PROTECTION FOR ‘WORKERS’

Originally posted by Cas Carrington of KLC Employment Law

A reminder that the new Regulations providing protection for workers who are subjected to a detriment because they leave their place of work without permission, or refuse to return, or take other action, because they have a reasonable belief that they are in serious imminent danger, came into force on 31 May 2021.

Employees were already protected from detriment and dismissal under section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 but until the pandemic this was a claim rarely made.

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GOVERNMENT TO CREATE NEW WORKERS’ WATCHDOG

Originally posted by Cas Carrington of KLC Employment Law

Responsibility for tackling modern slavery, enforcing the minimum wage and protecting agency workers will be brought under one body to create a ‘comprehensive new authority’ according to the Government announcement made earlier today.

As well as enforcing the existing powers of the three separate agencies, the new body will be able to ensure vulnerable workers get the holiday pay and statutory sick pay they are entitled to without those workers having to resort to making an employment tribunal claim.

Quite why the Government has announced this today is unclear, since primary legislation will be required to establish this new enforcement body. We’re assuming that the ‘primary legislation’ referred to is the Employment Bill which was not mentioned at all in the Queen’s Speech last month so it’s anyone’s guess when we’ll see it get through Parliament!

 

FORSTATER APPEAL WAS HEARD AT THE EAT ON TUESDAY

Originally posted by Cas Carrington of KLC Employment Law

It may be a long time before we get a judgment in the case of Forstater v CGD Europe & Ors but the EAT on Tuesday considered the appeal against the decision of the Employment Tribunal in 2019, that Forstater’s belief that a person’s sex is an immutable biological fact, does not amount to ‘philosophical belief’ and is not, therefore, a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

Forstater, a public policy researcher and writer, had a consultancy agreement with a not-for-profit think tank, the Centre for Global Development (CGD).  She claimed that following the end of her contract in December 2018 the CGD refused to engage her further because of comments she had made on Twitter and other social media forums expressing her beliefs about trans issues.  She claims that refusal to engage her was unlawful discrimination.  The first hurdle for her to get over was whether her belief about trans issues is a protected characteristic.

Forstater believes that ‘sex’ is a material reality which should not be conflated with ‘gender’ or ‘gender identity’, and being female is an immutable biological fact, not a feeling or an identity. Forstater gave evidence that she would generally be polite to trans people and would usually seek to respect their choice of pronoun but would not feel bound to use it.  She would not alter her position even if a person held a Gender Recognition Certificate.  Forstater made it clear that her view is that the words man and woman describe a person’s sex, and that a  person is either one sex or the other, and there is nothing in between.  She also believes that it’s impossible to change from one sex to the other.

The ET reviewed the five criteria that must be met for a belief to be categorised as a philosophical belief and therefore protected under the Equality Act 2010 (as set down in Grainger plc v Nicolson (2009)) and decided that although Forstater’s belief met the first four criteria it was not worthy of respect in a democratic society because it was incompatible with human dignity and conflicted with the fundamental rights of others.

Forstater is appealing on six grounds, including that the ET adopted the wrong approach, applied completely the wrong test and reached the wrong conclusion as a consequence. To read an excellent summary of the 50-page skeleton argument, written by Joshua Rozenburg, click here

We’ll let you know the outcome when it is published.

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WE’RE ALL EQUAL, BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS

Originally posted by Cas Carrington of KLC Employment Law

When the Government announced their decision not to re-open schools (not even junior schools) after the Christmas break, I was astounded that no discernable concern was raised at the time by the Government, or in the immediate aftermath by the mainstream press, about the devastating impact that decision would have on many working families. Of course, there are arguments for and against the closing of schools, but whichever camp you fall into, it doesn’t detract from the fact that working families with young children were thrown overnight into panic about childcare arrangements (and some employers too!).

If both parents work, and neither can work from home, what are their options?  At least one parent has to be at home at all times with the child, which means they must rely on their employer having the financial headroom to pay them to stay at home and not work, or be granted paid or unpaid leave (not that helpful for struggling families).

The Government has been clear that employers may furlough an employee who has to stay at home with a child, but to date there is no obligation to do so.  While certain groups are lobbying for furloughing in this situation to be mandatory, I suggest we should consider the employer’s point of view as well.  The employer will still have to pay NI and pension contributions, and may still need the job to be done. While this may not be an insurmountable problem for large organisations, spare a thought for small to medium ones which might have fought to keep their businesses afloat for the past year and just can’t afford any further financial burden, or find a replacement with the necessary skills.

It may be that one or both parents can work from home, which makes matters slightly easier, but young children can’t just be left to their own devices (although that’s quite literally what is happening to many of them).  In theory, parents might be able to fit their work around looking after their child’s daily basic and educational needs, and some are able to undertake some of their work when the child has gone to bed, but this must be exhausting for the employee and, almost inevitably, strain will show on their work, in quality and/or quantity, because, good people will not be putting their work before their child’s welfare.  Responsible employers will hopefully be showing concern for their employees and offering flexibility where they can.  Merely demanding that the same amount of work be done in the same time and at the same time would clearly be unreasonable,  and any disciplinary sanction imposed almost certainly be held unfair.

What has possibly disturbed me the most about this situation, however, is the inequality that still appears to exist between working men and women. Statistically, we know that women are the primary childcarers (the tribunals and courts just take that as read) and between most working parents it’s usually the woman who is most likely to undertake part-time work.  Society understands that is the case, but under these extraordinary circumstances, I’m amazed to discover that in the main it’s ‘mum’ who is taking on the role of home schooling even where both parents are in full-time work.

We’ve seen huge changes in equality for the better during recent and not so recent years, and so I’m truly surprised to discover that society still considers men’s jobs to be more important than women’s. Perhaps I’m being naïve, and it’s merely because women want to take on part-time work to balance childcare? But, just because a woman’s job is part-time does not make it any less important than a man’s full-time job. Or perhaps it does, and I am being naive, and if I am, I think it’s a sad day for anyone who wants to see true equality of the sexes.

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Our Employment Law Update Seminar was a Success!

This week has been a busy one for us here at Pursuit! Not only did we welcome another new trainee consultant we also held our big Employment Law Update Seminar with Cas Carrington.

As always, The Lion Inn were great hosts and the layout of the room worked perfectly for the Seminar.

The Main Event

Cas Carrington delivered, as always, an insightful seminar to our clients with recent updates and case studies around Employment Law and Contract Law.

As the lead tutor for the Law on Tour events, our seminar’s are extremely popular with HR professionals in the area. Not only do we offer them to our clients free of charge, we also hold them regularly to keep our clients up to date on the changes to the law as part of their CPD. All our seminars and workshops can be certified for your CPD hours if required.

We had a professional photographer at the event so we look forward to sharing some of the pictures with you in the next few weeks!

Our Raffle

Thank you to all our guest for helping us raise money for our Charity of the year – The Friends of Edith Borthwick who raise vital funds for the Edith Borthwick School and it’s pupils in Braintree.

We raised nearly £100 for the charity through a raffle on the day which will help towards our target!

If you have not heard of the school before, it is a highly successful community all age special school for students aged 3-19 years old with severe and complex learning difficulties, including Autism. A key feature of the school is  the provision of a high quality education programme tailored specifically for individual needs. Over recent years funds raised by the charity have been used to subsidise school trips, purchase a new mini bus and support various curriculum activities. For more information, please visit their website: http://www.edithborthwick.essex.sch.uk/friends-of-edith-borthwick/

 

Hello Spring

As we welcomed in Spring this week we also thought it would be nice to deliver daffodils to all our guests to help get them into the Spring mood! You can’t go wrong with a bunch of flowers!

 

We will be announcing the dates of our forth coming Employment Law Workshops and Seminars soon! 

 

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Last few remaining spaces at our Employment Law Update Seminar

We have had a very positive response to our forth-coming Employment Law Update Seminar with Cas Carrington from KLC Employment Law Consultants LLP. Whilst places are now limited, if you would like to book a space at the event – get in touch today by registering your interest here.

Cas Carrington is the lead tutor for the Law on Tour seminars and has worked with Pursuit Resources Group for over 10 years providing informative Employment Law Workshops and Seminars for our clients. The next event is being held on Thursday 21st March 2019 at The Lion Inn Hotel in Boreham, Chelmsford. The event starts at 9am with a light breakfast and concludes at 1pm.

We can now reveal some of the topics that Cas will be covering on the day. Please note this is not a comprehensive list and cover just some of the areas that will be presented at the event.

What’s new in Employment Law:

  • Parental bereavement leave and pay
  • Brexit
  • Government action plan for tackling LGBT discrimination
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Gender Pay Gap reporting

Case Law 

  • Contract
  • Discrimination
  • Dismissal
  • TUPE
  • Equal Pay
  • Union Representation

The event is always hugely successful and attending counts towards your CPD hours. If you attend the seminar and would like a certificate for your CPD, please do not hesitate to ask. 

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Our Sexual Harassment and Religion Workshop was a success!

This month’s Employment Law Workshop focused on the topics of Contract, Sexual Harassment and Religion. We would like to thank all those who attended and once again made the event a huge success! Special thanks to Cas Carrington, KLC Employment Law LLP, who delivered an interesting update on the laws covering:

Contract

  • Understanding custom and practice
  • Agreement to a contract change by performance

Sexual Harassment

  • The Law
  • Acas Advice
  • EHRC action and guidance
  • Report from Women and Equalities Committee

Dress Codes and Managing Religion at work

  • Dress codes
  • Managing religion and belief at work

Our next event will be an Employment Law Update Seminar in March 2019. If you would like to register your interest for the event – please click here


It was enjoyable and very informative.  Cas was great, as usual, and the venue was good, as were the timings

Once again a very useful and informative event, with a very relaxed and friendly vibe. The Contractual aspect was particularly interesting for me.
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Pursuit Group talks about the Tarana Burke’s #metoo Campaign

Here at Pursuit, we are building up to our November Employment Law Workshop on Sexual Harassment and Religion in the workplace. To promote the workshop we have used a powerful image of a woman behind a board with the words #metoo. But what exactly does it represent and why are we highlighting the campaign?

Founded by Tarana Burke, an Amercian social activist from New York, the #metoo movement became an international movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Tarana began using the phrase “me too” in 2006 to raise awareness of the pervasiveness of sexual assault in society. In 2017, the phrase became viral when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted #metoo following the sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Within a day, #metoo was used over 200,000 times, and within a few weeks – more than 12 million times!

“I don’t think that every single case of sexual harassment has to result in someone being fired; the consequences should vary. But we need a shift in culture so that every single instance of sexual harassment is investigated and dealt with. That’s just basic common sense.”

Tarana Burke.

Our next employment law workshop in November is Sexual Harassment and Religion. We felt that this was the perfect campaign for us to promote to our readers to raise awareness for the campaign! We will be sharing several articles throughout the month as the news hits. Although it is a year since the original tweet, there is still an amazing buzz around the campaign.

If you would like to attend our forth-coming, employment law workshop on Sexual Harassment and Religion, please contact us via [email protected]up.co.uk. This workshop is open to our clients and local HR professionals who we may work with in the future. The workshop is an intimate size of just 25. We therefore cannot guarantee everyone a space – however we will do our best to accommodate requests fairly.

Should we not be able to assign a place for you, make sure you put the 21st March 2019 in your diary – for our annual employment law seminar – invites and details to follow.

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Redundancy and Dismissal Employment Law Workshop

We had a fantastic morning at The Lion Inn. We hosted our October Employment Law workshop – Redundancy and Dismissal. This month’s event has been our most popular! Our workshop’s are open to our clients that we work regularly with. We also welcome those we would like the opportunity to work with in the future. It was great to see both new and old faces round the table today!

Lorraine (Pursuit Managing Director) welcomed the clients at 9am at The Lion Inn with Sarah and Courtney (two of our Recruitment consultants). With a full English breakfast to start off the morning, our speaker Cas Carrington from KLC Employment Law Consultants LLP, kicked off today’s workshop with an exciting introduction to the topic – Redundancy and Dismissal.

Full of informative, real-life case studies, Cas delivers a compelling session. It gave our clients a refresher on the law around Redundancy and Dismissal. Since introducing our workshops we have been overwhelmed with the positive feedback from our clients. As they are more intimate, our clients are encouraged to ask questions and discuss any issues that Cas covers.

Due to Cas’ background, the workshops and seminars count towards your CIPD training or CPD hours. Cas is the lead tutor for the CIPD Law on Tour workshops and also tutors on CIPD law courses, including the Advance Level Award in Employment Law and the Postgraduate Certificate in Employment Law. Cas also delivers training for the CIPD In-Company Solutions.

Future events

Our next event will be held on Tuesday 27th November 2018. The topic of discussion is Sexual Harassment and Religion. Full details of the event are on our website. 

Due to the popularity of this months we recommend sending us your interest for a place as soon as possible. Whilst we cannot guarantee a space, we try to accommodate as many clients as possible – and as fairly as possible to ensure our clients can attend at least one of our events this year. If we are unable to guarantee a space on our next workshop, we do have our main Seminar on 21st March 2019 so be sure to put the date in your diary!

Do you want to read more about our past events and Employment Law Blogs?