Employers in hot water in 2021; what is the biggest cause?

The issues creating problems for employers this year are vastly different from previous years.  We provide a summary of the types of cases which have caused and continue to cause pain to employers as we move into 2022:

  1. Labour shortages. So many employees have completely shifted their view of what “normal” working looks like, and this has been a huge contributory factor to many businesses finding it seemingly impossible to attract and retain staff – particularly at the lower end of the pay scale.  This has resulted in employees being more likely to raise grievances or concerns and in raising employment tribunal claims, where previously they might just have moved on and let an issue drop.
  2. Redundancy dismissals: Up to a million workers were on furlough for the entire duration of the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS). When businesses started to return to normal many of them changed their processes, and structures having worked differently for so long. This inevitably resulted in redundancies and many businesses are still working through this process.
    If you believe you have a need to make redundancies the process must be addressed carefully. There are strict legal consultation obligations to consider but also possible alternatives, including reduced hours, lay-off, or reduced pay, before employment can be fairly terminated on the basis of redundancy.

    Failing to follow proper process creates the risk of an employee bringing a claim of potentially unfair dismissal and in many cases, unlawful discrimination.

  3. Holiday pay and entitlement: Ensuring that staff receive their correct holiday entitlement calculations can cause difficulty in normal times but it is worth a reminder that those employees who have not taken any holiday during furlough are entitled to have it rolled over, in addition to ongoing accruable leave, for two years.
  4. Flexible working requests: Employees with more than 26 weeks’ service are entitled to make a flexible working request and this is most definitely on the increase. Many employees have a better understanding around home working where previously employers simply stated that home working in specific roles was not possible.

    Many businesses have implemented a remote or hybrid working policy, but some have not. Instead, they are asking employees to make a flexible working request if they want to adjust their normal location of work.  This means that employers will now have to demonstrate an increasingly robust business case for refusing any such request given to them, including taking into account that in many cases they were able to accommodate home working during the peak of the pandemic.
    What’s more, any flexible working request that is made based on a need to accommodate caring responsibilities needs careful consideration.

    If a business fails to properly apply its mind to a flexible working request or refuse to even offer a flexible working trial, it could end up on the wrong side of a tribunal claim.

  5. Long Covid: It is most likely that Long Covid will be classed as a disability in some cases. Employees with long Covid will therefore have the right for certain reasonable adjustments to be considered, before any decisions are made about termination of their employment on grounds of health.

    Failing to properly take into account employer obligations under the Equality Act 2010 risks both unfair dismissal and unlawful discrimination claims.

These issues may be daunting to consider but 121 HR Solutions is here to assist. Contact us on enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk for further support.

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