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  • HR Heartbeat: Can you handle the HSE heat? Advice for keeping staff cool, a petition for a new protected characteristic and…

HR Heartbeat: Can you handle the HSE heat? Advice for keeping staff cool, a petition for a new protected characteristic and…

The latest HR Heartbeat is here! This week find out current guidance for looking after your staff in the heat. Plus, read the mini-manifesto from 4-day working week campaigners.

First published on Friday, Jun 23, 2023

Last updated on Friday, Jun 23, 2023

3 min read

Have you heard the latest news?

Welcome to HR Heartbeat, where we give you a rundown of the week's top employment law stories.

Stay on the pulse of current trends impacting your business, plus get up-to-the-minute commentaries on all things HR and legal. So, let’s check out this week’s headlines…

Petition for a new protected characteristic

A petition has been lodged with No. 10 Downing Street to make being in care or having grown up in care a protected characteristic covered by the Equality Act 2010. A few examples of current protected characteristics are age, disability, race, and religion. If passed, it would mean that any unfavourable treatment or discrimination based on an individual having been in care would be unlawful. The petition is supported by a group of people who have been in care who say access to jobs has become limited after telling the interviewer they were in care. So far, 31 councils across England and Scotland have passed a motion to treat care experience as a protected characteristic.

Can you handle the heat? HSE urges employers to look after staff during hot weather

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has left employers feeling hot under the collar this week as they call for more than office air-con to keep staff cool this summer and protect them in extreme heat.

While there is no maximum temperature law for workplaces in the UK, heat is considered a hazard, so it’s still important for the health & safety and wellbeing of your staff!

Their advice includes:

- And insulating hot pipes and machinery.

Learn more about legal working temperature and your responsibilities here.

Debate on changing the definition of ‘sex’ in the Equality Act

Earlier this year, the government asked the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to set out the effects of changing the definition of ‘sex’ as a protected characteristic to ‘biological sex’.

The government has debated the change but they’re yet to set out the next steps. The EHRC points out that changing the definition would provide clarity in many areas for employers. But it could cause confusion in some areas of employment law like the law on equal pay.

4 Day Week by 2030?

Following on from the world’s biggest 4-day working week trial last year, 'the 4 Day Week Campaign’ has set out a mini-manifesto ahead of the next general election. Their main philosophy? You guessed it, proposing a reduction in the maximum working week from 48 hours to 32 hours which they hope to achieve by 2030.

They also suggest any work beyond 32 hours should be paid at 1.5 times salary, as well as an amendment to government guidance on flexible working to include a request for a 4 day, 32 hour week without loss of pay.

For more expert support, ask Bright Lightning: Can I implement a 4 day working week?

And that’s a wrap. Tune in next week for more headlines and make sure you stay ahead of major employment law changes!

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