4 Aug 2020

A round-up of developments in UK employment law which HR teams need to know about.

So much has changed since I last sat down to write an introduction to our employment law update.

We have seen a sudden shutdown of much of our economy and an unprecedented Government-backed scheme to pay private sector wages. Now, as the furlough scheme begins to wind down and employers re-adjust their priorities to meet a very changed business environment, many will be thinking hard about their immediate and longer-term people strategies.

Our lead article looks at how employers can prepare for life after lockdown. It is based both on our own experience of advising employers across sectors on the employment law (and employee relations) issues arising from the pandemic and the insights provided by those who attended our virtual People Summit Series events. The common themes across all of our discussions were balancing flexibility and business need, the value of strong and visible leadership and the importance of mental health.

For some businesses, redundancies may be an unfortunate but inevitable consequence of a prolonged period of reduced demand for their products and services. We have some guidance on approaching those exercises both in the UK and across multiple jurisdictions. We also look at the extent to which employees who are currently working remotely should be given the option (or even encouraged) to come back to the office. As many of you will be aware, the guidance has changed from 1 August and the emphasis on working from home wherever possible has now been dropped.

We will continue to update you, our valued clients and contacts, as Government policy and legislation relating to the COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve. You’ll also find many of the team commenting on these developments on LinkedIn as they arise, so please do feel free to connect with me and your usual Taylor Vinters contacts on that platform, if you have not done so already.

We are also keen to keep you informed on employment law issues that do not relate directly to coronavirus. In this update, we deal with two topics that frequently crop up in practice. Rachel Ashwood and Razia Begum provide an accessible guide to justifying the use of HR data, whilst Frances Gosling considers confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements (which are often such a key part of the deal).

And if you are interested in the recent furore surrounding Dr David Starkey’s comments and subsequent resignation, James Murray applies his expertise in academic freedom of speech issues to unpick the potential legal complexities.

I wish you a safe and relaxing summer.

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Our top rated employment team advises clients on all aspects of the employment relationship, wherever in the world their employees may be. We have particularly strong experience in dealing with complex issues such as group re-organisations, director hiring and firing, multi-party tribunal claims and issues involving overseas jurisdictions.