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We’ve seen a lot of controversy online over the past couple of days regarding law firm Stephenson Harwood’s announcement that they’re to cut pay by 20% for home workers. Here, our legal experts from Supportis HR wade into the discussion…

Stephenson Harwood announced that employees were welcome to work remotely 100% of the time, however, this would come at a cost of a 20% salary reduction. The policy was extended to all staff, including lawyers, below partner level.

This has been heavily criticised, and a rep from the company responded by highlighting that they also operate a Hybrid Working policy, in which employees can come into the office at least 3 days out of 5 for full pay.

It’s not gone unnoticed that none of those who have taken the firm up on the 100% remote option are trainee or junior lawyers. With the cost of living higher than ever, we find it difficult to understand how deducting from pay would be deemed a reasonable solution to any issues employers might find wfh causes. Especially as of course they will be saving on operating costs including office space whilst employees aren’t in the office.

Having a ‘one fits all’ policy such as the one Stephenson Harwood have implemented not only bypasses individual consultation (which we would always recommend when changing any terms and conditions of employment, especially for staff with over 2 years’ service!) but it’s also risky in terms of being potentially discriminative.

If working from home has been favoured by women with caring responsibilities, or by a disabled employee for practicality reasons, docking their pay is running the risk of leaving the company open to claims of indirect discrimination.

By virtue of the policy offering less pay to those who wfh, this also must infer that home workers aren’t as productive, hardworking or committed as those in the office. We have seen research to the contrary of this outdated view time and time again.

Furthering a point we’ve touched on above, those who wfh will inevitably face higher utility costs as they’ll be home all day as well as the evening. With soaring costs of living, it could certainly be argues that docking pay for home workers is ignorant to this issue and contributing to employee’s struggling to pay bills – a real and unfortunately more common problem than most employers would like to address.

We’re no stranger to reporting on the ‘great resignation’ of 2021. As millennials and gen Z especially simply aren’t willing to put up with remaining in professional situations where they don’t feel valued, employees wanting more flexibility will end up looking elsewhere.

In conclusion, employers thinking of cutting pay for those who wfh would need to be able to justify that cuts were a legitimate and proportionate measure, e.g. by proving that 20% of wages were saved by the employee by not coming into the office. We argue this wouldn’t be reasonable or practicable.

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts… Connect with us on socials @supportishr and join the discussion, where we report on all things HR, employment law and H&S every weekday!

Digital right to work checks are currently due to end on 30 September 2022. This date has been delayed further multiple times because of employer concerns around the return to in-person checks. Also, with the shift to remote working for a number of employers, in-person checks can be difficult to conduct.

The UK government recognises that digital checks are favoured and have therefore announced implementation of digital right to work checks for employees.

What’s new?

  • From 6 April 2022, foreign nationals who have a biometric residence card, biometric residence permit or frontier worker permit can only be checked online, not manually. They must provide their DOB and share code to allow the employer to check their status using the Government’s online checking service. This is a free service and as a result, manual checks will no longer be permitted. Employers don’t need to carry out a retrospective check for employees where a manual check was completed on or before 5 April 2022.
  • From 1 October 2022, employers will use certified Identity Service Providers (IDSPs) to complete digital right-to-work checks for British and Irish citizens with valid passports. This will be an alternative to manual checks, and the IDSPs will complete these digital right-to-work checks on behalf of employers for a fee. The digital check will involve submitting images of personal documents rather than the original documents using Identity Document Validation Technology instead.
  • Manual checks can continue to be carried out for employees not covered by point 1 above. This will mainly cover British and Irish nationals who do not require permission to work in the UK.

Supportis have a wealth of resources to help you and your business with all things people management. Give our friendly team a call on 0161 603 2167 today, or email us at [email protected] to see how we can help!

We know that running your business is a 24/7 job, and with the ever-evolving nature of HR, it’s easy to see how employment law updates and changes can be overlooked.

New changes tend to come in every April, so it’s important not to get caught short when it comes to legal compliance for payments like minimum wage, holiday pay and family friendly payments.

Changes for April 2022

Minimum wage and other statutory rate increases

Following the government’s confirmation that minimum wage rates will increase from April 2022, the updated rates are:

National Living Wage (23+)          £8.91     £9.50

21-22 Year Old Rate                         £8.36     £9.18

18-20 Year Old Rate                         £6.56     £6.83

16-17 Year Old Rate                         £4.62     £4.81

Apprentice Rate                                  £4.30     £4.81

Accommodation Offset                 £8.36     £8.70

Family friendly payments

Leave rates for family friendly payments are also due to change. Going from £151.97 to £156.66 per week are:

Maternity pay

Paternity pay

Adoption pay

Shared parental pay and

Parental bereavement leave.

Statutory sick pay

SSP is also changing from £96.35 per week to £99.35 per week.

The lower earnings limit used to calculate entitlement to family leave and sick pay will rise to £123 per week.

Gender pay gap reporting

For companies with 250+ staff members, there’s an obligation to publish annual gender pay gap reports (this came in in 2018).

In the report, differences in the average earnings between men and women in your company should be outlined.

You will need to take a snapshot of your company’s pay data on a specific date in order to provide this.

For example, in 2022 this ‘snapshot date’ will be 30 March 2021 for companies in the public sector. In the private sector, 5 April 2020 will be the snapshot date.

Reporting deadlines

2022 reporting deadlines:

  • 30thMarch 2022 – public sector employers
  • 4thApril 2022 – private sector employers and voluntary organisations.

COVID-related changes

From the 1st April, the current guidance on voluntary COVID-status certification in domestic settings will be removed.

Also, the government will no longer recommend that venues use the NHS COVID Pass.

Other changes to be aware of

2022 sees a number of changes set to come in with dates TBC, including:

  • Flexible working – the government is considering the option to allow employees to request flexible working from day one of employment following a consultation (influenced by the pandemic wfh arrangements)
  • Ethnicity and disability pay gap reporting – steps towards standardising this type of report
  • Data protection – the ICO is issuing updated employment practice guidance on data this year
  • Sexual harassment – A new duty for employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace
  • Right-to-work checks – The pandemic resulted in a digitised scheme, which was met with positive feedback. Consequently, this is being made permanent
  • Modern Slavery – Modern Slavery Act reforms are expected towards the latter end of 2022. Your anti-slavery statements may need updating following this change.

Contact us today at [email protected] to obtain your FREE statutory rates guide for 2022 (it would look lovely in your office!) and read our previous article here

Mr Moore was referred to as an ‘old white man’ by his colleague whilst at work in Sean Pong Tyres in Rotherham. He has since been awarded over £22,000 after winning his claim for race and age discrimination at an Employment Tribunal after such comments led to him being signed off work with depression.

The claimant was called ‘gay white man’, ‘old white man’ and colleagues said he was ‘lazy’ and ‘too old’ to work effectively in a physically demanding role unloading tyres for export.

The team at the tyre company was small consisting of 3 Ghanaian workers who regularly spoke in a language that the claimant could not understand.

The owner of the company suggested that Moore’s complaint was an attempt to manufacture a legal claim against the company, and reported that the colleague accused of the inappropriate comments did regularly use bad language when speaking to the claimant, however this was only in response to similar bad language directed at him by Moore (the claimant).

The company owner further dismissed this behaviour as ‘banter’, claiming that Owusu, the accused member of staff, had never used racist language towards the claimant.

Moore felt the comments to him were intimidating. He wrote a complaint to Frimpong, the company owner, in January 2021, stating: “Since [the accused colleague] started at the company he has done nothing but single me out and slurring abuse at me causing a lot of stress and sleepless nights. This letter is a last resort for me and in hopes [sic] you are able to resolve this matter.”

It was found that the employer was liable for Owusu’s behaviour which “tipped over at some point into hostility”.

The judgment states “He may not have appreciated the effect he was having on Mr Moore but in our view it did create a hostile and intimidating working environment and amounted to bullying and harassment. We are also satisfied that that harassment was related to race and age since this was expressly stated.”

The tribunal dismissed a complaint of sexual orientation discrimination, made in relation to incorrect comments about Moore being gay, as this was “just the odd remark” and did not meet the harassment threshold.

On 1 February 2021, Moore left work early unexplained. Later the same day, he messaged Frimpong stating he was attending an MRI scan and blood tests, which suggested he had suffered a panic attack or a suspected heart attack. He was subsequently signed off work with depression.

On 3 March, Moore emailed Frimpong further about his health problems including pain down the right side of his neck and arm. The employer’s response stated: “if you are not coming again could you please be straight and tell me thanks”.

The tribunal stated that this message indicated there was “no real concern” for Moore’s health from the Employer.

Moore then submitted his resignation in in April 2021, stating: “The situation has gotten so bad causing me many days of stress, upset, and sleepless nights and loss of appetite. This situation has also affected my mental health and gave me no choice but to seek medical help.”

As it was proven that Moore was discriminated against, the tribunal concluded that he had been entitled to resign and make a claim of constructive and unfair dismissal.





The first Monday of February is proven to be the day that UK workers are the most likely to ring in sick.

Reasons include:

  • Gloomy weather
  • Post-festive blues
  • Seasonal illnesses

It’s well-known that conditions such as depression and anxiety can affect people more severely in the winter, with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affecting 10-20% of people who suffer with depression.

SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter.

People with SAD may have symptoms during the summer and feel better during the winter.

the term ‘sickie’ implies that employees are being dishonest by calling in sick, mental health advocates highlight the stigma that unfortunately still exists around mental-health issues leads many employees to use other illnesses they think may be deemed more ‘acceptable’ as their stated reasons for not coming into work.

Approximately 600,000 workers called in sick in 2020, costing employers an estimated £45,000,000.

Workers calling in sick citing their reasons as mental-health related are shown to be more likely to lie to their employers than those with a physical ailment. This is just one of a plethora of reasons that employers must do their bit to emphasise the importance of mental health and reduce the stigma around it.

Mental health isn’t the only type of absence that generally gains little sympathy with employers. Only 42% of senior managers agreed that having the flu was a valid reason to stay home. However, it’s been proven that having a day off when not feeling well can be more productive for the workforce in the long run, as coming into work sick can unnecessarily spread germs amongst colleagues and customers.

How to counteract National Sickie Day

  • Ensure you’ve got a robust absence management policy in place

This sets expectations out clearly to staff and creates a sense of fairness where the policy is applied consistently amongst the workforce. It also helps to keep tabs on how many sickness absence days are being taken for each employee. Whether through a spreadsheet or absence management portal, it’s easier to pick up on when sickness absence days are becoming excessive if absence is regularly monitored.

  • Integrate with your team

Apart from the obvious benefits integrating with your team will result in, team integration will also offer Employers better opportunity to pick up energy levels and gauge the team atmosphere, in turn this can be a good method of predicting absence and helping prevent it. It’s important to be able to tell the difference between an employee with a busy social calendar who’s using days like National Sickie Day to their advantage (and of course manage this appropriately) and an employee who’s suffering from burnout and needs a day off from exhaustion.

  • Don’t be scared of formal process

We find employers are often worried that by delving into reasons for sickness absence, they may be impinging on employee privacy, and opening themselves up to various potential discrimination claims. Although of course absence management processes need to be carried out appropriately to mitigate any risk of this, following formal processes is a must when you’ve exhausted avenues such as informal meetings, letters of concern etc. It ensures fairness across the workforce and may act as a deterrent to ‘repeat offenders’. Of course, we always encourage our clients to speak to us so we can advise the best avenue to take when managing absence, as there are lots of valid reasons that employees may have repeated sickness absence also.

National Sickie Day remains a popular talking point and excuse for people to take a day off, comforted by the fact that others are likely doing the same.

If you’re affected by this topic, Supportis specialise in HR, employment law and health and safety advice for UK employers. Give our friendly team a no obligation, free call today on 0161 603 2156.

The Prime Minister is under mounting pressure from Conservative MPs and leaders in the health and social care realm to delay or scrap the implementation of the covid vaccine mandate which at the time of writing (24th Jan 2022) is due to come in in April 2022.

The main reason that this mandate is coming under fire is the undeniably huge staff shortages in the health and social care sector. There is an argument that it would be detrimental to the NHS waiting times if the mandate is imposed.

Plan B restrictions are due to lift now Omicron cases are declining. However, it is now in question whether the government’s mandatory coronavirus vaccine policy is a proportionate response to the pandemic, now that it’s becoming more of an endemic.

The new regulations that are due to come into place on 1st April 2022 are the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) (No. 2) Regulations 2022.

These regulations would see Covid vaccinations being a condition of deployment for everyone in a health and social care setting in England, who are engaged or employed in a CQC–regulated activity, this includes those who are employed to undertake personal care or direct treatment as part of a CQC–regulated activity, who have face-to-face, direct contact with service users or patients.

Non-clinical ancillary workers who enter CQC-regulated areas in their work will also fall under these regulations. This includes receptionists, porters cleaners etc. There’s a 12 week grace period in which affected workers can provide evidence that they are either exempt or fully vaccinated, from 6 January 2022–31 March 2022. Workers face being dismissed from their roles if they cannot be redeployed.

Therefore, workers must have had their first dose of the vaccine by 3rd February 2022 to accommodate the eight weeks between doses.

Because of the looming deadline, MPs and leaders of health and social care who oppose the mandates are now putting pressure on the PM to do a U-turn on the policy.

The Guardian reports that the PM told backbench Tory MPs on Friday he was “looking again” at the mandate. This could end in the regulations being cancelled or delayed, however, at the time of writing we are simply unsure.

In conclusion, employers who fall under the new proposed legal requirements should continue in the preparation to comply with the regulations coming in in April, but keep an ear to the ground on developments. We will update as the situation develops.

If you’re affected by this topic, Supportis specialise in HR, employment law and health and safety advice for UK employers. Give our friendly team a no obligation, free call today on 0161 603 2156.

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