Newsletter: July 2023

Welcome to the July edition of the AdviserPlus newsletter.

In this month’s newsletter we are taking a look at the new Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023, which received Royal Assent this month, and what this legislation will mean for employers and employees.

We will also look at a recent Employment Tribunal judgement on linked discrimination claims, and at some of the benefits of being an eco-friendly employer.

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023

New legislation around flexible working has made its way through parliament and in the last week has been given Royal Assent.  Employers should be aware of the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023, which is expected to take effect in 2024, and will likely require a review of Flexible Working policies.

So what will the changes be?

  • Employees will be able to make two requests for flexible working in a rolling 12-month period (it’s currently one)
  • The three-month time limit for employers to deal with requests will reduce to two months
  • Employees will no longer be required to explain the likely impacts of their request, or to propose solutions to these impacts
  • Employers won’t be able to refuse a request until they’ve ‘consulted’ on it with the employee (however there isn’t currently guidance on what this ‘consultation’ should look like as a minimum)

It was anticipated that the Act would also introduce the right to request flexible working as a ‘day one right’, meaning there would no longer be a minimum length of service before employees can apply (currently 26 weeks). However, this has not been included, and the Government has said this will be addressed through separate legislation.  The right of appeal has also still not been specified as a requirement, albeit this is recommended within ACAS code.

ACAS have updated their statutory code to reflect this new Act and it’s currently under employer consultation.  It’s hoped the Act will reflect and support what Susan Clews, ACAS Chief Executive has described as a ‘substantial global shift’ in flexible working, partly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and also due to rapidly advancing technology.

Flexible Working is key not only in attracting candidates, and retaining an engaged workforce. But also in supporting employees in establishing a more positive work-life balance, supporting mental health, and working alongside protections featured last month supporting parents and carers.

Recent Case Law: Discrimination

Two individuals have been successful at tribunal in related claims of discrimination against their employer. In Brighty (and others) v Elevate Staffing Ltd, Ms Fountain was successful in a claim of sex discrimination after a colleague, Mr Butt, made discriminatory remarks to her following a heated argument, including telling her to ‘go back to your stripping job’ as ‘that’s all you’re good for’.

In an unusual twist, Mr Butt himself also made a claim against the same employer, as a result of their handling of the complaint against him from Ms Fountain. He claimed race discrimination after a manager used ‘racist language’ and called him a liar using phrases such as ‘I know you people’.

The tribunal found Ms Fountain’s claim to be proven on the balance of probability; that the comments were demeaning and abusive on the grounds of sex, and that they would not have been made to a male comparator, therefore constituted unfavourable treatment. Ms Fountain was awarded £5,960.

The tribunal also found sufficient material to conclude on the balance of probabilities, that Mr Butt had been subjected to racist conduct, and that there was a racial connection in the comments made to him by management. Mr Butt was awarded £4,768.

Plastic Free month

Corporate and Social Responsibility is increasingly relevant, as clients, customers, employees and potential candidates are paying more attention to organisations’ sustainability approach.

Regulations require companies to meet sustainability goals, and in many cases it’s cost effective too. However, for many, having an environmentally accountable employer goes beyond this. Advice by The Guardian tells us that many job applicants will consider a company’s ‘eco credentials’ before applying, so going green can help in attracting more talent.

Sustainability is not only impactful on brand, but internally can influence employee engagement and loyalty. As well as supporting volunteering, charity and community projects, many companies are supporting awareness events such as ‘Plastic Free July’. There are suggestions on how colleagues can get involved at home and in work, here: Easy ways to get started in the workplace in a solutions-focused way include:

  • encouraging colleagues to bring their own reusable coffee cups and water bottles
  • educating on recycling options in the office, setting up a collection point for soft plastics
  • holding a plastic free bake-off
  • sharing tips on reusable alternatives

Some dates for your diaries.

  • July – Plastic Free month; National Picnic Month
  • 18th July – Muharram, Islamic New Year
  • 23rd July – March for Men, Prostrate Cancer UK
  • 24th July – The Big Listen; Samaritans Awareness Day
  • 27th July – Tish’a Bav, Jewish remembrance fast day
  • 28th July – 6th August – Love Parks Week

Note: The above guidance was correct at the time of writing this article on 21/07/23. This does not constitute legal advice and is for information purposes only.
If you have any questions regarding the content of this newsletter or would like more information to support your business with the changes, please get in touch.


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