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Government consultation: “Health is everyone’s business”

The government has launched a consultation on ways in which government and employers can take action to reduce ill-health-related job loss in the UK.

Despite low unemployment figures, it remains the case that those who suffer from ill health face barriers entering and remaining in work. The government reported that although around 8 in 10 non-disabled people are employed, only five in 10 disabled people are in work, and disabled people are 10 times more likely to leave work following long-term sickness absence than non-disabled people.

The government is seeking views on a number of proposals which aim to encourage early action by employers to engage with and support employees with long-term health conditions, including:

  • A right for employees to request work(place) modifications on health grounds. Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are currently under a duty to make reasonable adjustments where an employee with a disability and is placed at a substantial disadvantage as a result of a provision, criterion or practice imposed by the employer, a physical feature of the employer’s premises or a failure by the employer to provide an auxiliary aid. The proposed change would allow employees to request that modifications are made even where the employee doesn’t meet the definition of disabled under the 2010 Act. The employer, unlike under the duty to make reasonable adjustments, would be able to refuse a request for workplace modifications on legitimate business grounds.
  • Reform of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). The proposed changes would enable an employee returning from a period of sickness absence to have a flexible, phased return to work while still receiving some SSP and would see those who do not qualify for SSP (as they earn below the Lower Earnings Limit) receive a proportion of their wage as SSP. Additionally, there are proposals to increase the fines for failure to pay SSP where it is due, and the inclusion of the enforcement of SSP within the remit of a proposed new, single labour market enforcement body (see further commentary on the consultation in relation to this new body here.
  • Ways of improving the use of Occupational Health (OH) services by employers. The government is seeking views on ways to reduce the costs, increase market capacity and improve the value and quality of OH services.

The proposed measures aim to recognise the role that employers play in assisting employees with disabilities and health conditions to stay at work, and the importance of the employer taking early action. The consultation looks to measure the impact of the proposals on businesses, individuals and the occupational health profession. The views gathered during the consultation will inform government policy in this area. The consultation will run until 7 October 2019 and is available here.

Government consultation: “Health is everyone’s business”

Consultation on the establishment of a new single labour market enforcement body in the UK

Since the publication of the 2017 Taylor Review of Modern Employment Practice and the government’s subsequent Good Work Plan, we have been keeping you up to date with new regulations and proposals for implementing recommendations (earlier updates here and here).

The Good Work Plan news this week, against a backdrop of record levels of employment and growing wages,  is that the government has launched a consultation to consider the case for a new single labour market enforcement body.

The reason for the consultation and the potential new enforcement body arises out of the government’s recognition that “effective enforcement plays a vital role in giving individuals the confidence to challenge employers where they are denied their rights and it creates a level playing field between businesses”.  The proposed focus would be on protecting the most vulnerable workers’ employment rights.

The government’s vision is that a new single enforcement body could deliver extended state enforcement, a strong recognisable single brand, better support for businesses, pooled intelligence, co-ordinated enforcement action, more effective use of resources and closer working with other enforcement partners.

The government points out in the consultation briefing that other countries have taken steps to establish more streamlined inspectorate bodies, and in fact this type of body is recommended by the International Labour Organisation. International case studies are referred to and provide an interesting comparison. 

The proposal is that a new single labour market enforcement body would deal with the National Minimum Wage (currently enforced by HMRC); employment agency regulations (currently enforced by the Employment Agency Standard Inspectorate); umbrella companies; licences to supply temporary labour in high risk sectors e.g. agriculture and the fresh food chain (currently enforced by the Gangmasters Labour Abuse Authority); labour and worker exploitation; and holiday pay for vulnerable workers.  The government is also interested to hear views on whether the new body should play any role in the enforcement of Employment Tribunal awards.

The consultation closing date is 6 October 2019. The consultation can be accessed here. As usual responses are welcome online, via email or in writing.

Consultation on the establishment of a new single labour market enforcement body in the UK

HMRC issues guidance on preparing for changes to off-payroll working in the private sector (IR35)

As we flagged on this blog back in March (post here), a consultation is currently open on implementation of the extension of the IR35 rules on deducting tax and National Insurance contributions at source to medium and large private sector organisations which engage individual contracts via intermediaries.

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Executive pay gap rules now in force

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Following the Taylor 2017 Review and the subsequent consultations launched earlier this year, the government has now published the Good Work Plan (the Plan). The Plan sets out its proposals for implementing the recommendations of the Taylor Review and "a wide range of policy and legislative changes" dealing with worker status, agency workers and zero hours contracts.
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