NI Employment Law: What We Learned Last Quarter (Q2 2021)

Posted in : Supplementary Articles NI on 5 July 2021
Legal Island
Legal Island
Issues covered: Covid-19; Fire-Rehire; Case review; Gender Equality

Every three months we update you with some of the key developments in employment law and practice affecting the Northern Ireland workplace in the quarter.

You’ll find many more learning points on the Northern Ireland Employment Law Hub, but here are a few highlights from quarter 2 of 2021 - click on the links below to find out more:

This quarter there has been a strong focus on home working and keeping workers happy - an unexpected positive outcome from the general depression brought about by Covid-19.

The LRA has published A Practical Guide to the COVID-19 Vaccination and the Workplace while elsewhere the BBC reports that Employers can claim from the furlough scheme for staff who are self-isolating.

Thousands of civil servants in Northern Ireland could switch to blended working under an "enduring" working from home policy and research into the short and long-term implications of Covid-19 on the economy have been published.

Working from home may be here to stay and the CIPD has a helpful flowchart to assess whether job roles are suitable for hybrid working.

The Guardian did sound a note of caution saying that a switch to more home working after covid ‘will make gender inequality worse’.

Keeping workers happy was a theme this quarter, with an emphasis on health and well-being. Research shows that offering health and wellbeing benefits to staff can play a valuable role in boosting productivity.  

And if a company isn’t keeping workers happy, they always have recourse as demonstrated by this article explaining that Unite the Union is setting up a hotline for Amazon staff to complain about their treatment at work.

And staying with the theme of the gig economy and zero hours workers, Uber is to recognise the GMB trade union in the UK for its private hire drivers. And hot on the heels of the Uber decision, Jason Elliott BL, reports on Addison Lee v Lange in which the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by the company against a judgement that its drivers were workers. 

Unions have also got involved in the debate around contractual variations in the wake of Covid-19 and Argos has been called on by workers union USDAW not to ‘fire and rehire’ hundreds of staff in order to push through contractual changes.

In the news 'Mediocre' Male Managers are Stopping Women's Rise. And, if they manage to leapfrog those managers, new research from Australia reports that women bosses are better at keeping workers happy and foster better employee relations.

In Health and Safety news, an amendment to the Employment Rights (NI) Order 1996 extends protection from detriment to workers as well as employees in relation to any action they may take where they feel they (or others) are at a risk of serious or imminent danger in their place of work.

The Equality Commission NI have teamed up with the LRA and NICICTU to produce helpful guidance for promoting equality in employment for women affected by Menopause.

Things have been quite busy South of the Border, with the publication of a Code of Practice on the Right to Disconnect, and the Supreme Court of Ireland ruling that the default position for WRC Adjudication Officer hearings must be that they will now be held in public and witnesses will be on oath. Prior to this, hearings were all in private and participants neither affirmed nor took an oath that they would tell the truth. The Irish government is also set to introduce statutory sick pay for employees and is consulting on the implications of a four-day working week.

News from GB is that the EAT has found that Maya Forstater, who lost her job after saying that people cannot change their biological sex, held a reasonable philosophical belief.

Bringing you right up to date, employers now have to contribute to the cost of keeping their staff furloughed. From 1 July, the government will pay 70% of salaries and employers will pay 10%. The scheme, which has protected millions of jobs at a cost of £66bn, is due to close at the end of September. Meanwhile the deadline for most people to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme was 30 June 2021.

And finally, we are delighted to launch our Workplace Wellbeing, Mental Health and Resilience podcast. This podcast series focuses on several key sessions recently delivered at Legal Island’s online Workplace Wellbeing, Mental Health and Resilience event in association with KinchLyons, which took place on 20th May 2021.

In episode 1, ‘Transitioning to a New Normal - Surviving & Thriving in a Post-Pandemic World’, Billy Byrne, Executive Coach at KinchLyons, asks: What does wellbeing mean now for employees and their employers?

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This article is correct at 05/07/2021

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Legal Island
Legal Island

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