The biggest upgrade to rights at work for a generation
The biggest upgrade to rights at work for a generation

The biggest upgrade to rights at work for a generation

As a school leader, the twin stands of Organisational and People Management come only second to the Leadership of Teaching and Learning. And yet, they are arguably, inextricable linked. Every sector will be assessing the immediate, the imminent and expected changes to come resulting from the change of government and our most important resources, our workforce, our People Teams can expect the biggest upgrade to rights at work for a generation.

Again, I am not an HR specialist, but I know a woman who is. I am therefore grateful to Vlexible-HR for helping me frame the impending changes proposed by the new government over the coming 100 days.  

An overview of the planned changes – with those most likely to impact education prioritised: 

  • Making flexible working a default right from day one for all (there are currently 8 statutory reasons why a business can reject a flexible working request, which will be reviewed) – the workforce is predominantly female; 76% in 2023/24
  • New rights expected to make it unlawful to dismiss pregnant employees for 6-months after their return from maternity leave (unless, I expect, in the case of gross misconduct) 
  • Banning (one-sided) zero-hours contracts – if someone works regular hours for 12 weeks, they will have the right to a normal contract
  • Legislation to be introduced to ensure workers will get reasonable notice of any changes in shifts or working time – and be recompensed for cancelled shifts 
  • A right to predictable working patterns (contractual)
  • Day one rights to increase – the qualifying periods for basic rights such as unfair dismissal, sick pay and parental leave will be removed
  • Tightening up of probationary periods which will make is more difficult for employers to dismiss during this time and therefore the potential for more tribunal claims
  • Likely removal of short service dismissal (under 2 years service) and therefore the potential for more tribunal claims 
  • Sick pay / SSP will be strengthened – ‘waiting days’ will be removed, so this will be a day 1 right – additionally SSP will be raised to a “fair earnings replacement” (in line with current wage/salary)
  • Strengthening of existing rights – mainly around pregnant workers, whistle blowers, redundancy situations, TUPE situations, and those raising grievances
  • Introducing the Right to Disconnect – already law in several countries (France, Spain, Italy, Australia) – so that homes do not become 24/7 offices – expectations and boundaries will become a contractual clause
  • A new right to Carer’s Leave came into force this April, but it is currently unpaid – Labour are hoping to make this paid leave 
  • Employment Tribunals – time limit for bringing claims will be extended from 3-months from employment end date, to 6-months from employment end date 
  • Increasing wages – commitment to raise National Living Wage
  • Pledge for “Sleepover Hours” in sectors like social care will be paid (this may impact on the Special Education Sector)
  • Pledge for travel time/commute to be paid when working across multiple sites/locations – a possible consideration for the growing number of roles across Academies and groups of school
  • Introducing a Dying to Work charter to support workers with a terminal illness

There are lots of other areas, for example, harassment and menopause, however the final area I am interested in the wellbeing. Employers will be legally required to support the wellbeing of workers and their long-term physical and mental health, raise awareness of neurodiversity, support for people with long-COVID.

A new Fair Work Agency, a new Key Educational Research Body that will be established to tackle the education skills crisis and a new Social Value Council – these three bodies, mean that there is going to be a fundamental shake up for all employers, of all sizes, across all sectors across a staggered timeframe. 

So hold off updating your Staff Code of Conduct and make sure you give consideration to your HR and People Management teams – it is going to be a busy time.

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