HR news round-up: from skills bootcamps to pregnancy discrimination

This week’s HR news round-up covers everything from the Department for Work and Pensions’ announcement of initiatives such as skills bootcamps for sectors with labour shortages to a pregnancy discrimination case.


Unemployed Britons to be directed towards ‘skills bootcamps’ to address labour market gaps

The Government has announced a new advertising campaign encouraging employers struggling with staffing shortages to tap into the specialist services and solutions their local Jobcentre can offer.

Alongside the campaign, the Department for Work and Pensions is leading a new cross-Government ministerial group set up to develop new recruitment schemes in industries facing staffing shortages, including hospitality, care, manufacturing and construction.

The Government will work with employers on initiatives such as targeted skills ‘bootcamps’ and Jobcentre training schemes.

The campaign will see adverts launched across TV, radio and online from 27th May, alongside a new digital site for businesses to find information about the support Jobcentres can offer.

Law Society publishes disability inclusion guidance

The Law Society of England and Wales has published guidance to support disabled people in the workplace by highlighting how organisations can prioritise digital accessibility.

The guidance provides information for firms, in-house teams and organisations to improve the inclusion  of people with disabilities and neurodivergence by introducing and implementing accessible technologies.

The Society says common barriers to inclusion include existing technologies not being accessible and a lack of compatibility between assistive technology and an organisation’s existing technology, systems and rules.

The guidance covers everything from document management systems to customer/client relationship management (CRM) systems and training platforms and content.

The Legally Disabled? research found that if used appropriately and with a range of diverse end users in mind, technology can be an enabler and improve accessibility and efficiency, potentially to the benefit of all.

Woman awarded £20,000 after miscarriage due to pregnancy discrimination

A woman has been awarded £20,000 after suffering a miscarriage due to pregnancy discrimination at an award-winning cheesemaker in the West Country.

Storm Botha claimed that she was demoted and had her wages cut after revealing her pregnancy and being told that getting pregnant would ‘jeopardise’ her career. She said this led to panic attacks and resulted in a miscarriage. The tribunal upheld Botha’s claims of pregnancy discrimination and unfair dismissal.

The cheesemaker, White Lake Cheese, must now pay the compensation. The company’s managing director, Roger Longman, alleged he made the decision to demote Botha without knowing she was pregnant. The tribunal also noted that no risk assessment was made to ensure the safety of Botha’s new role, which involved heavy lifting. Botha was let go the month after her miscarriage under the guise of redundancy, something the judge called ‘a sham’.

In other tribunal news,  a woman who had severe endometriosis won a tribunal claim for unfair dismissal after her employer unilaterally withdrew home working.

Pauline Pilawa worked for Pericle estate agency in the Midlands and had been permitted to work from home as a reasonable adjustment to her medical problems. The tribunal heard that this arrangement had worked well for both her and her employer.

However, Pilawa was suddenly refused permission to continue working from home. She was signed off work for sickness and, after lodging a grievance, she was dismissed after being told her working from home would not be reinstated.

Transparency pilot paused

A Parliamentary committee has expressed disappointment at the Government’s announcement that is pausing a long-running pilot on pay transparency.

In a letter to the Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Kemi Badenoch, the Minister for Women and Equalities, says she has paused work on the Pay Transparency Pilot in order to focus on “those areas of work where there is a clear unjust disparity”.

She says: “We have always been clear that Government policy should be evidence-led. As you will know, pay transparency is still an emerging area, and we do not yet know whether there could be unintended negative impacts. We are aware that several countries are exploring legislative options, and therefore believe it makes sense to first learn from their experience, before taking any further action.”

The pilot was announced in March 2022 as a measure to ‘break down barriers for women’. Several studies have focused on the issue of pay transparency and gender equality. A study by the Fawcett Society, for instance, found that 58% of women felt they had received a lower salary offer than they would have if they had not been asked about their pay history during the recruitment process.

Read more here.

‘Parents’ worries about child mental health affect job performance’

A growing number of working parents are worried about their children’s mental health and many says it is affecting their performance at work and costing employers an estimated £8bn annually, according to a new survey.

Deloitte’s fourth annual mental health report, published in collaboration with Place 2 Be and Mind and based on a survey of 3,156 workers, found 46% of working parents are concerned about their children’s mental health and half of these say it impacts their performance at work. The report’s estimate of the cost to employers takes into account parents and carers taking time off work to care for their children, the impact on their performance and decisions to leave their roles.

A majority of working parents (63%) who were concerned about their children’s mental health, say they turn to external sources of support to manage their children’s mental health challenges, rather than approaching their employer for additional support. Of those who are concerned about their children’s mental health, a third (32%) have looked to reduce their working hours and 19% have turned to their employer for additional support, such as an employee support line or sought flexible working arrangements.

Juggling demands of work alongside caring for a child with mental health difficulties led to 10% of parents taking up to five days off per year to support their children. One in a hundred working parents have left their jobs because of the poor mental health of their children.

Read more here.


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