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/ 11 Nov 2021

November 2021: Employment Law Developments

Trainee Solicitor Tom Stubbs provides a summary of recent employment law developments below including the affects of the pandemic on the gender pay gap, the decline in shared parental leave and government plans to address menopause in the workplace.

Pandemic pressures on the Gender Pay Gap

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported the gender pay gap for all UK employees has increased in the year up to April 2021, partially due to the disproportionately high number of women furloughed during the pandemic.

In April 2021, the gender pay gap for full-time employees was 7.9% compared to 7.0% in April 2020. However, the ONS noted that the 2020 comparison needs to be treated with caution given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on wages and hours worked and the disruption caused to the collection of data from businesses.

The ONS encourages a focus on longer-term trends rather than year-on-year changes, highlighting the reduction from 2019, when the gap was at 9.0%.

The data indicates that higher earners experience a much larger difference in hourly pay between the sexes than lower-paid employees.

There remains a large difference between employees aged over 40 with women aged between 40 and 49 who work full time experiencing the highest gender pay gap at 12%.

Find out more: Mind the Gap: Gender Pay Gap Reporting 2021

Shared Parental Leave use has declined during the pandemic

A study has found that 17% fewer couples requested shared parental leave between 2020 and 2021 (11,200 couples) when compared to before the pandemic (13,100 couples in 2019).

This is the first decline in requests since shared parental leave was introduced in 2015. Until this decline, the number of applicants had been increasing steadily by 1% or 2% each year.

Only 2% of women took parental leave in the form of shared parental leave, with 598,000 women taking maternity leave instead.

Differing reasons have been cited for the poor uptake of shared parental leave during the pandemic year; both the low level of shared parental pay and the increased flexibility during the work from home restrictions are thought to have been contributing factors.

Government outlines action to address menopause in the workplace in Private Member’s Bill

With one in four women in the workplace being menopausal or post-menopausal, it is important that employers create a supportive environment. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the British Menopause Society and the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, have produced useful guidelines to support employers in this regard.

Flexible working options, whether part-time working or job-sharing, can assist those in menopause. Responses to the government’s consultation on various reforms to the right for employees to request flexible working remains open until 1 December 2021. The link for accessing the consultation can be found here.

On 27 October 2021, at the second reading debate of the Menopause (Support and Services) Bill, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Maria Caulfield MP, announced that legislation would be amended to reduce prescription charges for HRT products in England. In addition, Maria Caulfield MP provided an update on the government’s work to improve menopause care in three main areas: healthcare, the workplace and women’s health strategy, which includes a new menopause taskforce to encourage a coherent approach to improved support for those experiencing the menopause.

How can Hanne & Co help with your employment law requirements?

Hanne & Co are experienced in all areas of employment law and have the breadth and depth of experience to meet yours or your businesses needs. If you want to discuss any of the above in more detail or to find out more about how our team can help you, please do not hesitate to contact Hanne & Co’s Employment Law Department on 020 7228 0017.

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