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  • HR Heartbeat: The UK vs UN strike debate, HR prep for the Rugby World Cup 2023, and…

HR Heartbeat: The UK vs UN strike debate, HR prep for the Rugby World Cup 2023, and…

Get insights on the strikes minimum service debate, how to prep staff for the Rugby World Cup, and the new plans to give disabled people more support to WFH…

First published on Thursday, Sep 14, 2023

Last updated on Thursday, Sep 14, 2023

6 min read

Have you heard the latest news?

Welcome to HR Heartbeat, where we give you a rundown of the week's top employment law stories. Stay on the pulse of current trends impacting your business, plus get up-to-the-minute commentaries on all things HR and legal.

The UK is under scrutiny from the UN over strike law

The TUC has announced that it will report the UK government to the United Nations watchdog on workers’ rights over the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act.

The new Act sets minimum service level requirements during strikes meaning some employees will have to work during industrial action or face being fired. It applies to a range of workers, including those in the rail industry and emergency services.

The government say the new bill will be introduced to “protect the lives and livelihoods of the general public as well as access to public services.” But the UN has labelled the new bill “anti-strike” and “unworkable”, stating they fall short of international legal standards.

A consultation is currently ongoing as to how the Act will work in practice for employers so keep your eyes peeled…

The Rugby World Cup 2023 kicks-off

The 10th Rugby World Cup kicked off in France last Friday (8th September) with the first match between France and New Zealand.

Most matches take place on weekends and either in the late afternoon or evening. England’s next match is against Japan this Sunday, 17th September. Employers might see a rise in annual leave requests from avid rugby fans working during these times.

Try as you might to avoid staffing chaos, just remember all annual leave requests should be dealt with fairly. You might also want to consider if you’re going to allow employees to get involved by watching or listening to the game in the office.

But make sure your policies on personal devices lay out the ground rules and it’s advisable to remind staff of the standards of performance and behaviour expected of them.

More support for people with disabilities to work from home

Around 2.5 million Brits are missing from the job market because of a medical condition. But could home working and flexible working be the answer?

People with disabilities could be given "more support" to work from home, under plans announced by the government. As an employer, it’s your legal duty to make sure disabled workers have access to equal resources and opportunities so it’s in your best interest to follow the latest guidelines.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has launched a consultation on the proposed changes with the aim to establish how disability or illness impacts the ability to work. One part of the proposal includes reflecting on flexible and home working arrangements.

The consultation is expected to run for eight weeks, and the Government hopes the reforms will come into force by 2025 — so stay in the loop with HR Heartbeat for the latest updates as they happen.

Is the UK falling behind with AI?

New insights from The Trades Union Congress (TUC) suggest that the UK is “way behind the curve” on the regulation of AI, with UK employment law failing to keep pace with the development of new technologies.

In fact, recent data from BrightHR found that 74% of UK employers have not yet incorporated AI into their workplace with security risk being their biggest concern.

So, the TUC has launched an artificial intelligence taskforce — AI taskforce assemble!

It’s not quite a superhero movie but we couldn’t resist…

Made up of specialists in law, technology, policy, HR, and the voluntary sector, they aim to publish a draft “AI and Employment Bill” in early 2024 which they’ll lobby to have incorporated into UK law.

Watch our Chief Technology Officer, Al Brown talk about the impact of Artificial Intelligence in the workplace, the benefits it brings, but also the risks and how you can prepare.

And that’s a wrap. Tune in next week for more headlines and make sure you stay ahead of major employment law changes!

Have more questions on any of the topics we’ve covered? BrightLightning holds thousands of answers to your most pressing HR and health & safety problems.

How long does an employee need to have a medical condition for it to be classed as a disability?

Generally, a medical condition should have lasted for, or be expected to last for, at least 12 months for it to be considered as a disability. There are some exceptions though, like cancer, which is covered from the point of diagnosis.

Can I discipline an employee for following a Rugby World Cup 2023 match on their mobile phone at work?

This depends on your rules on employees using their personal phones when they are at work - you may ban it completely or you may allow a certain amount. If you ban it completely, it will be easy to draw the line on breaches of this rule. If you allow some use, you will need to decide what you consider to be an appropriate amount so you can then classify what an excessive amount is and take action at this point. Where rules are breached, you should address them in a proportionate manner and this will depend on the circumstances. The first time an employee breaches the rule, it may be appropriate to simply have a quiet word with them and remind them of what is expected, together with letting them know that any further breaches will be dealt with accordingly i.e., under the formal disciplinary procedure. Repeat instances may then warrant a verbal warning once an investigation is carried out and the disciplinary procedure followed. It can be useful to remind employees in advance of the World Cup what your rules are so that there is no confusion.

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