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Upcoming changes to EDI and employment legislation

A meeting in the workplace

Everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect inside - and outside - of work. It’s a basic human right and it also has huge benefits for your organisation. People who are treated fairly, whose opinions are taken on board, and whose skills are embraced, make a crucial contribution to the success of the team and the business.

In order to ensure equality, diversity, and inclusion is practised at work, the Equality Act 2010 was introduced. It was created to simplify, strengthen, and harmonise existing legislation to provide Britain with a new discrimination law; not only to help protect individuals from inequitable treatment but also to provide and promote a fair and equal society.

Under the Act, both employers and employees have responsibilities that they are legally required to adhere to. Therefore, it is crucial that actions are taken to ensure that neither party breached the law and that both parties are kept informed on updates to legislation.

With that said, there are a number of changes expected to take place surrounding employment law over the next few years.

Hybrid and flexible working arrangements

Since the start of the pandemic there has been a shift towards home working and more flexible hours. However, the current rules on flexible working are not necessarily fit for purpose.  

Back in September 2021, the government issued a consultation paper on flexible working. There were various changes being considered including making the right to request flexible working a day one right by removing the 26 weeks qualifying service requirement; removing the rule that only one request can be made in each year; and a change in the timeframe for considering requests.  

The changes to flexible working were initially proposed in the Employment Bill and we are now waiting to see what the changes will be when it is introduced.

Pay gap reporting

The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 came into force on 6th April 2017. These regulations require that within five years the Secretary of State must review the regulations and publish a report on whether they meet their objectives. This would therefore need to be done by April 2022.

Sexual harassment

Under a new Equality and Human Rights Commission Code of Practice, employers will soon be facing increased legal pressures to show what steps they're taking to prevent sexual harassment and harassment in the workplace - which makes workplace equality training more important than ever.

On 21st July 2021, the government published their response to the consultation on sexual harassment. The response set out a proposal to introduce a new duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and also to make employers responsible for third party harassment. 

There would be a defence to the duty on the employer if it has taken all reasonable steps to prevent the harassment taking place. These changes could be included in the Employment Bill and will require a change in how employers manage the risk of harassment claims.

Menopause awareness

The Women and Equalities committee set up an inquiry into menopause at work and the extent to which women with menopausal symptoms suffer discrimination in the workplace.  The recommendations are expected in 2022 and this could lead to significant changes to the Equality Act.

Additionally, the government has indicated that it was considering an extension of the time limits for bringing claims under the Equality Act from three months to six months. They have also promised legislation in relation to the use of non-disclosure agreements.

How iHASCO can help you with EDI in the workplace

Our experts have recently put together a free bitesize guide for employees to better understand their responsibilities. It includes information surrounding the importance of EDI, The Equality Act 2010, and an actionable checklist to help them promote EDI in the workplace.

We also offer a Workplace Equality Training Bundle that covers a number of key course topics surrounding EDI. This includes:

You can also take a look at our Menopause training course.

Claim your free, no-obligation trial to any of these courses today! Alternatively, request a bespoke quote for your organisation today and a member of our team will be in touch shortly to discuss your training needs.

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