Newsletter: May 2023

Welcome to the April edition of the AdviserPlus newsletter.

In this month’s newsletter we are raising awareness around mental health to support involvement in Mental Health Awareness week that runs from 15th to 21st May 2023.

Another key development this month is that the government has announced its proposal to abandon the previously imposed ‘sunset clause’ with deadline of the 31st December 23, from The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) (REUL) Bill.

Finally, there are some other dates in May that may be interesting and beneficial for businesses to explore.

Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental health is something that each and every one of us has as described in detail here by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The concept of mental health is how individuals think, feel and behave, as well as how they handle stress, relate to others and make choices in their lives. A person can have good or poor mental health, and this can fluctuate significantly.

One of the most common mental health problems is anxiety. Anxiety can be caused by various things such as traumatic experiences, painful long-term health conditions, or can even be inherited from a parent. Symptoms of anxiety can also differ in severity from person to person. The NHS lists some common symptoms of anxiety as:

  • Feeling restless or worried
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Experiencing dizziness or heart palpitations

The good thing is that awareness and understanding is growing, and help is more available than ever before. Talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) help break down an individual’s negative thought process by looking at both what a person thinks and does in the hope of breaking that cycle.

Businesses should look at areas that they can positively impact and provide support with. This could be promoting Employee Assistance Programmes, signposting to local or national charities such as;

  • StepChange if the source of anxiety is financial,
  • Cruse, if related to bereavement or
  • Mind for a variety of mental health support tools.

The more that mental health is talked about in the workplace, the more the stigma around having poor mental health is reduced. Businesses need to be prepared in understanding their approach to acknowledging colleagues with poor mental health related issues, explore all reasonable adjustments, and be proud to be a supportive employer.

Recent Case Law

Philip McQueen v General Optical Council

In Philip McQueen v General Optical Council, an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has found that the Employment Tribunal (ET) was correct in its ruling that the colleague’s aggressive behaviour did not arise from his disabilities.

Mr McQueen had been employed as a registration officer since 2014 and had various conditions (including hearing loss in one ear, Asperger’s syndrome and dyslexia) which made interactions with colleagues difficult.

Following an incident with a colleague in 2015, where Mr McQueen’s actions were described as “rude, disrespectful and wholly inappropriate and aggressive”, Occupational Health were engaged and provided guidance on changing some methods of work (email communication following instruction being given and being provided with a recording pen) to ensure instructions could be referred back to.

Several other situations occurred between 2015 and 2017. During this time, Occupational Health was engaged again and the tribunal summarised the findings when in stressful situations that caused Mr McQueen anxiety, he would “raise his voice and adopt mannerisms suggestive of aggression, with inappropriate speech and tone”.

A written warning was issued in January 2017 for failing to follow a reasonable management instruction and even though no action was taken in June 2017 following another conduct issue, Mr McQueen raised a grievance regarding both conduct issues. The grievance process continued into 2018 with Mr McQueen going absent before leaving the business in 2019.

An ET claim was raised citing unfavourable treatment due to something arising from a disability, but the ET found that the incidents at work did not arise from his disabilities and consequently, the ET found that there was no act of discrimination as the behaviour was due to Mr McQueen’s temper and not liking being instructed in what to do. The ET dismissed the claim.

An appeal was submitted on the grounds that the disability does not have to be the sole or main reason for the ‘something’ that arises in consequence and can just be ‘trivial’.

Although critical of the ET’s decision structure, the EAT dismissed the appeal as it agreed with the ET’s findings that Mr McQueen’s behaviour was not related to his disabilities. The appeal was then dismissed.

Retained EU Laws

In early May, the government announced its proposal to abandon the previously imposed ‘sunset clause’ with deadline of the 31st December 2023, from The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) (REUL) Bill. Instead of all retained EU law being revoked on this deadline (unless specified exceptions), the proposal will be that EU law will remain, unless it is expressly removed (or ‘repealed’).

Concerns had been raised that the deadline date did not allow the various departments enough time to review the detail before these were revoked.

The government has now published its list of the EU laws that are intended to be repealed, and an initial review suggests these are unlikely to have a significant impact on employment law.

The Business Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, has acknowledged that this move had left businesses with “legal uncertainty” and trade unions have highlighted that workers’ right could be detrimentally impacted.

Some dates for your diaries.

  • 1st May – 31st May 2023 – National Walking Month
  • 12th May 2023 – International Day of Families
  • 15th – 21st May 2023 – Mental Health Awareness week
  • 29th May 2023 – Spring Bank Holiday
  • 29th May 2023 – International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers

Note: The above guidance was correct at the time of writing this article on 18/05/23. 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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