Your Questions Answered
Employment lawyers Kate Benefer and Adrian Henderson provided a hugely informative Employment Law Update at our Zoom HR Hub in June. Here they answer a few of the questions put to them by the HR decision-makers who attended the event.
Q: Can you put compulsory lateral flow testing in place where employees are working with vulnerable adults?
A: It is likely that this will be easier to implement, however, you would also need to be careful if for any reason at all an individual cannot have such tests due to, for example, health reasons which constitute a disability, as this would potentially bring discrimination issues into play.
Q: Is the latest advice that the vaccine is safe for pregnant women.
A: Pregnant women are being offered Pfizer or Moderna in the UK and should take up the vaccine based on their age group or risk group - that's the Government advice. However, the guidance re the safety of the vaccines for pregnant women will need to be monitored as and when it is released and ultimately a decision taken in regards to potential discrimination issues on such a policy.
Q. Is there any expected extension to Covid Regulations to carry forward more Annual Leave into 2022 and will this have implications for Working Time Regulations?
A: At the moment, the rules are that there is an allowance of four weeks that can be carried over to the next year i.e. 2022 if the employee has been prevented from taking their annual leave due to covid, shielding, self-isolation etc.
Q: We do have a few employees who have said they will return to the office only if their colleagues in the office are vaccinated. We were considering getting employees back in the office after they have had their vaccine - how do we deal with this, as we do want employees to return to the office on the hybrid model?
A: Employees do not necessarily have the absolute right to refuse to come into the office under circumstances whereby others have not been vaccinated as long as sufficient other safety measures have been put in place. However, do be aware of potential disability discrimination issues that may come into play or health and safety issues that allow individual employees based on their own circumstances to refuse to follow a reasonable management instruction if it is inherently unsafe - although this will need to be considered on a case by case basis.
Q: What are your thoughts about amending contracts and contractual place of work where organisations may offer hybrid working?
A: The general rule on amending contracts is that this cannot be done without the consent of the employee.
Q: Has anyone submitted a visa sponsor licence application recently and how long have you waited to hear back or get it? We're on week 7 and haven't heard anything. Is no news good news?!
A: The home office said eight weeks when I last heard.
Q: With covid WFH, do we need to provide any updates to the home office for a tier 2 visa holder i.e. place of work is home?
A: The recent guidance was that this was not necessary however, with the changing situation and the introduction of hybrid working, it is always useful to err on the side of caution and report.
You can find out more about our monthly Zoom HR Hubs and how to get involved, here.