What We Learned Last Quarter: August 2023

Posted in : Supplementary Articles NI on 31 August 2023
Legal Island
Legal Island
Issues covered: Cost of Living Crisis, Remote and Flexible Working, AI, Recruitment, Social Media, Pay

Legal Island's Knowledge team have collated all the updates we sent our 1,000+ Employment Law Hub subscribers in Q3 2023. Just as autumn facilitates the transition from summer to winter, HR professionals adapt to change, whether it's onboarding new employees, implementing workplace transformations, or pivoting to meet new demands. As the days get shorter, let’s take a moment to reflect on the developments we’ve seen over the past few months.

Remote and Flexible Working

Giants like Amazon and X encouraged staff to the office more often however, the tug of war continues as employees pointed to benefits like no commuting and saving money on those expensive coffee trips.  Seamus McGranaghan from O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors looked at how employers could prepare for a successful return to the office in What Factors Should Organisations Consider When Deciding Whether to Return Employees to the Office?  while Orlagh McDonald from Think People considered Working from Anywhere, How Does it Affect an Organisation? when employees want to work remotely or even abroad and HR needs to consider issues like tax and contracts of employment.

In GB, there was excitement as the Flexible Working Bill 2023 received royal assent, although it fell short of delivering on the right to request flexible working from the first day of employment. On our Irish hub, Fiona Egan from Kennedys Law wrote about Ireland being one of the first countries to introduce statutory domestic violence leave. But as Stormont remains in political limbo, Ian McFarland, employment partner at Eversheds Sutherland Belfast, said new legislation and regulations which have come into force in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, coupled with the inability to progress legislation locally, mean Northern Ireland’s employment laws are being left behind compared to neighbouring jurisdictions.

Data Protection

The ICO had a busy few months with the MOVEit Hack of Ofcom, BBC, British Airways, Boots and Aer Lingus are among a growing number of organisations affected.  That was an outside job but serious damage can be done from inside an organisation too as the PSNI learned when names of 10,000 officers and staff were accidentally published online for a number of hours with obvious security risks.

Social Media

Jason Elliott, BL reviewed the case of McDade v Norman Emerson Group Limited [2023], where an employee was dismissed for livestreamed a video from his Facebook account of individuals singing a sectarian song. Chris Fullerton from Arthur Cox provided tips on What Control can an Employer Exercise over an Employee’s Social Media Accounts? in our First Tuesday Q&A series.


A CEO in India announced he replaced 90% of his company’s support staff with an artificial intelligence chatbot which seems rather hasty – who is going to organise the annual Christmas party?  In fact, who is going to attend the annual Christmas party?!  Despite the sensational headlines, AI is continuing to evolve, and HR needs to be ahead of this technological curve. Our event,  How AI is Transforming HR: A step-by-step guide to using AI in HR & Beyond is on 21st of September and will explain AI and its use in HR in a balanced, non-Terminator type of way – join us!

Recruitment and Wages

Organisations increased wages as a key retention tool. According to the CIPD’s Labour Market Outlook report, 40% of UK employers have made a counteroffer in the past 12 months in the current talent shortage, but not everyone is getting an increase.

Cost of Living and Wellbeing

Despite recording breaking increases for some employees, everyone can agree that things cost more.  Catherine Rees from Morrinson Wealth Wellbeing provided advice on how employers can support employee wellbeing in How to Weather the Cost of Living Storm.  People may be more susceptible to scams and get rich quick schemes to increase their bank accounts too, and  Alexa Roseblade from GamCare offered advice, including signs to look out for and ways to support, if you are concerned about someone's gambling.

As Olga Pollock wrote in her article about emotional intelligence, self-awareness is as important as cognitive intelligence and it’s important you recognise your own stressors and take time out for self-care too. 

As the leaves fall, HR professionals are gearing up for a bustling period ahead. The upcoming months promise a flurry of activities but remember we’re always here as a helpful resource for when your day isn’t all autumn skies and pumpkin pies….happy September!

This article is correct at 31/08/2023

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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