In Brief NI: February 2022

Posted in : Supplementary Articles NI on 7 February 2022
Legal Island
Legal Island
Issues covered: Four-day Week, Menopause, Covid-19, NI Protocol

This month’s 'In Brief' brings together a range of resources and articles that we’ve found interesting from the start of the year. We’ve highlighted the key themes, to help you keep up to date with developments.

Four-day Week Pilot Launches

The pilot is being coordinated by 4 Day Week Global in partnership with the UK think tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK Campaign and researchers at Cambridge University, Boston College and Oxford University. You will have unparalleled access to the expertise, tools and resources you will need to run a smooth and successful trial.

More than 30 UK companies are moving to a four-day working week as part of an international study on how flexible working can improve productivity. For the next six months employees in participating firms will work just 80 per cent of their usual hours. They will not receive any loss in pay but will be expected to maintain the same levels of productivity as when they were working a full five-day week. Part of the pilot will see researchers working with each participating organisation to measure the impact on productivity in the business and the wellbeing of its workers, as well as the impact on the environment and gender equality. Interested? Have a look HERE.

The New Statesman has an excellent article on why a four-day week makes sense for businesses and the economy.

In the alternative, People Management say experts warn that expecting staff to maintain output in fewer hours could lead to higher stress levels.

Menopause Should be a Protected Characteristic, MPs told

Menopause continues to be at the top of the agenda with People Management warning that a survey has found that more than a million women with menopausal symptoms are under pressure to quit their jobs because they are not getting the support they need. They also reported that Members of the Women and Equalities Committee heard that many women who feel they have been discriminated against because they are going through the menopause have to find legal workarounds to argue their case, often having to rely on rules around disability discrimination. Marian Bloodworth, partner in employment law at Deloitte Legal, told the MPs that many women face discrimination – ranging from inappropriate and offensive comments to missing out on pay or promotions – simply because they are perceived to be going through the menopause and regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms.


Who’d have thought when this all started that we’d still be talking about Covid-19 in 2022? Extraordinary, but here we are!

Covid-19 has continued to dominate the news in January. Whether it’s Downing Street parties or compulsory vaccinations.

Several big-name brands have announced their plans to cut sick pay for unvaccinated staff who have to self-isolate as a close contact. Supermarket Morrisons has confirmed it has cut sick pay for unvaccinated workers who are forced to isolate after being exposed to Covid. It follows similar moves from big retailers including Ikea, Next and Ocado as staff absences rise.

In the case X v Y [2021] we learned that a fear of catching Covid-19 is not a protected belief under the GB Equality Act. Tribunal decisions on Covid matters are now coming thick and fast, so watch this space, and perhaps listen again to Employment Law at 11 from Friday 4th February when Seamus McGranaghan of O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors takes you through some of the most interesting cases.


But every cloud has a silver-lining they say, even Covid! The pandemic has focused the minds of HR professionals on mental health and resilience of staff. Check out our great webinar all about resilience and strength of mind - Who Dares Wins: Real World Lessons from Connor Smyth, the Winner of the Channel 4 Series - from professional Irish dancer to winner of the toughest course ever on Channel 4’s ‘Who Dares Wins’, Northern Ireland’s own Connor Smyth has shown he’s got what it takes. Strength of character, resilience, and the ability to keep going, when the going gets tough – everything we need to survive and thrive in the workplace.

NI Protocol

Let’s take a break from talking about Covid-19 and talk about something less controversial………..Brexit(!)

While there is a renewed focus on reviewing the customs elements of the Northern Ireland Protocol following Liz Truss’ appointment as Foreign Secretary and the prospect of an Assembly election, Ciara Fulton points out in her article What The Protocol Means for Employment and Equality Law in Northern Ireland, that it is important to remember the important role the Protocol plays in securing the employment and equality protections which were so central to securing peace in Northern Ireland under the Belfast or “Good Friday” Agreement.

These and many more articles are available on the NI Employment Law Hub

This article is correct at 07/02/2022

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.

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