Auteurs

Shireen Shaikh

Senior Counsel – Knowledge

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Kathryn Clapp

Senior Counsel – Knowledge

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Auteurs

Shireen Shaikh

Senior Counsel – Knowledge

Read More

Kathryn Clapp

Senior Counsel – Knowledge

Read More

15 mai 2024

Law at Work - May 2024 – 3 de 3 Publications

Law at Work: hot topics

  • Quick read

UK Modern Slavery statement registry has been updated

The Home Office has announced that its modern slavery statement registry has been updated to encourage businesses to upload their annual modern slavery statements. Under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (MSA) large businesses are required to produce a statement each year setting out the steps they have taken to ensure that their business and supply chains are slavery free, or a statement that they have taken no steps to do this. 

Modern slavery statements help reduce the risk of forced labour being used in UK supply chains by increasing transparency and allowing consumers to make informed choices. If a statement shows there is a risk of modern slavery in a company’s supply chains, the statement allows them to demonstrate the steps they are taking to address it year on year. The reason for the online register is to make it easier for organisations to show they are complying with the MSA and allow any member of the public to search for statements. Currently, use of the registry is voluntary, but all organisations are strongly encouraged to submit their statements online.

The following updates to the registry are now live:

  • one-off email notification to registered companies who have not uploaded a statement since the registry was launched in 2021
  • email reminders to registered companies every year to prompt them to submit their latest annual statement
  • if companies have not yet uploaded their annual statement, they will first receive a reminder one month before the deadline with a further reminder to be sent 2 weeks before the deadline and a final reminder one week prior to the deadline
  • changes to the statement summary pages and search pages to clearly show how many of the recommended sections a company has completed on the registry – this will allow customers to make more informed decisions and see how companies are working to eliminate modern slavery in their supply chains.

If you would like further information on the MSA more generally and to find out whether your business needs to comply with this law please visit our Modern slavery act assessment tool.

Reform of fit notes 

Last month the DWP issued a call for evidence to explore reforming the fit note process to support those with long term health conditions to access timely work and health support. Fit notes allow a GP to not only provide details on an individual’s condition but also recommend common types of workplace adjustment such as phased return to work, altered hours, amended duties and workplace adjustments. However since their introduction in 2010, the government notes that currently only about 6% of fit notes are issued as 'maybe fit for work' with a workplace adjustment and that therefore most are repeat fit notes, issued without any such advice.

In order to help people manage their health condition and get back to work sooner it proposes a new process where there is a triage service that supports people seeking a fit note into a pathway that best suits their individual health and employment needs. This would include an assessment of someone’s ability to do their job with a healthcare professional or with a work and health adviser and then accessing expert work and health support through Occupational Health services, where appropriate. The government believes that putting in place these processes will produce a fit note service that facilitates faster and simpler work and health support. The call for evidence will end on 8 July 204.

Recommendation for an increase in statutory sick pay

Following its call for evidence last year, the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee has published its report into statutory sick pay (SSP), making recommendations for the government to improve SSP provision. The Committee concluded that the current rate of SSP is too low and has recommended that it be brought into line with the SMP rate and the lower earnings limit be removed. It concluded that the 3 waiting days before SSP is paid should be retained. However, given how many employers permit phased returns where they can as part of their own occupational sick pay arrangements, SSP should also be paid in combination with normal wages. This would allow those with fluctuating health conditions to reduce their hours periodically to manage their conditions better.

The Committee did state that for smaller businesses, a rebate of SSP costs would have to be an essential component of any reforms. This could itself help reduce rates of sickness absence if it was made conditional on businesses demonstrating better sickness absence management. Additionally, acknowledging that the self-employed are not eligible for SSP, the Committee would like to ensure that such individuals are no worse off financially during periods of sickness than employees on SSP and that the government should establish a contributory sick pay scheme for self-employed people to provide them with the same level of income protection as would be available under SSP.

Platform Workers' Directive gets green light

After a long delay, and much speculation that the draft Platform Workers' Directive would in fact be shelved, the European Parliament has agreed on the final text of the Platform Workers' Directive (PWD). Once the Directive is published in the Official Journal of the EU, Member States will have 2 years to implement it. The PWD will give platform workers in member states rights with regard to algorithmic management, as well as creating a rebuttable presumption of employment status. Importantly, the new rules will ensure that a person performing platform work cannot be fired or dismissed based on a decision taken by an algorithm or an automated decision-making system. Instead, digital labour platforms must ensure human oversight on important decisions that directly affect the people performing platform work. UK or US businesses using platform labour in members states will be affected by its reach. For more information on the likely impact of PWD, see here.

Acas Code and Guidance

Following the introduction of Carer's leave in April, and various other changes which we reported on here, the Government has published new guidance on Carer's leave. This brief guidance summarises key rights under the legislation, illustrates how to calculate leave entitlement for part-time workers, and provides a helpful schedule showing how much notice must be given by the employee, depending on the length of the leave being taken. 

Following April changes to the right to request flexible working, The Government has published a Code of Practice on requests for flexible working which replaces the previous code published in 2014. It sets out guidance on how to handle requests and appeals, including valid grounds for refusing a request. The Code of Practice should be followed where an employee makes a statutory request for flexible working but the processes and considerations it sets out may also be helpful in handling informal requests. By way of reminder, the statutory right covers any changes sought in respect of hours, times or place of work. 

In light of April 2024 changes (enhanced protection in redundancy situations for pregnant women and those returning from family leave), The EHRC has also updated various guidance:

Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat to crack down on illegal workers

In the gig economy, having the right to substitute is an important factor in determining worker status. That was crucial in the UK Supreme Court decision last year which ruled that self-employed Deliveroo riders cannot be recognised as workers in an employment relationship or represented by trade unions for collective bargaining. 

But in the case of food delivery platforms, it has always been the rider's duty to verify the substitute's right to work, not the platform's. So the major platforms have agreed - following requests from the government as part of an enforcement drive - to introduce tighter criminal background and right to work checks on substitute riders too. Expect this to be the direction of travel across the gig economy, presumably with the platforms arguing that increased security and safety measures are neutral steps in the assessment of worker or employment status.

HMRC online reporting for UK employee share plans and share awards by 6 July

If your business offers UK employee share plans, growth shares or share awards, you need to do the following by 6 July 2024 for the 2023/2024 tax year:

  • complete end of year reporting for share plans and arrangements
  • register all new share plans and arrangements on the HMRC online system
  • self-certify new tax-favoured share plans.

If you don't take the above actions in time, you will be subject to automatic penalties and will lose the tax-favoured treatment for certain share options.

If you would like more information on what you need to do, take a look at our article here.

Immigration changes: a reminder

The UK is transitioning to E-visa for most visa categories and certain steps must be taken before 31 December 2024, see here. Also, for a reminder of key immigration changes from 4 April 2024, see Vikki Wiberg's update

Dans cette série

Droit Social, pensions et mobilité

Law at Work: hot topics

15 May 2024

par Shireen Shaikh, Kathryn Clapp

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