The Law in 4: Employment and Immigration news 17/01/2023

Every other week we give you the run-down on 4 updates from the world of employment and HR. Whether it be a tribunal case, government decision or anything else for that matter – we’ve got it covered.

1. New anti-strike bill

On 10 January 2023, the UK Government unveiled its “minimum services bill” in Parliament. If passed, some public sector workers would be compelled to work through any strikes called.
The latest government proposal builds on the Conservative party’s manifesto from 2019, in which it promised to ensure minimum levels of service on public transport networks during a strike. The latest bill would see minimum service guarantees in the NHS, education, border security, fire and rescue, and nuclear decommissioning.

Whilst the government claims it is a safety issue, the Trades Union Congress has labelled it “undemocratic, unworkable, and almost certainly illegal”.

In terms of enforcement, the BBC has reported that employees who are named on the notice to work would lose their unfair dismissal protections if they went on strike in breach of the notice, and were subsequently dismissed.

2. Positive reports from 4 day week pilot

This pilot involved employees working 4 days a week, but not taking a drop in salary.  The reports have been largely positive with apparently all companies in the UK that took part confirming that they will continue with the 4-day week, finding that there was no drop in productivity and that their staff were happier.

So how did they do it?  Well, the results are formally out next month but so far it seems that it’s all about a change in mindset.  Recognition of how much working time is wasted and eradicating procrastination seems to be the key.  I wonder if they will do a compare and contrast, before and after?  Most people will identify with the meetings that take place where they have said nothing, wondered why had to attend and have come away thinking “that’s two hours of my life I won’t get back”. Playing devil’s advocate here though, will this turn out to be such an intense way of working that it in turn becomes pressurised and that the all-important social aspects of team-working are sacrificed for a 3 day weekend?  For some it may not matter.  We look forward to seeing the results!

3. Mass lay-offs

You will all have seen the news that Amazon is laying off 18,000 job globally, and that comes off the back of other such action taken by other tech companies in particular.  Is this the sign of the times to come? A trend, perhaps, as a result of companies shaping up to weather the storm of uncertain economic times? Maybe.  Or maybe their “aggressive hiring” in the last few years just needs some levelling up (nothing to do with the political levelling up) after the huge spike in their need for staff during the pandemic where we all went a bit cardboard-crazy (I don’t think it was just me who replaced the spend on fuel by spending on online shopping….).  It’s likely to be a combination of both.

4. And finally, something a little different

Anyone with the right to work in the USA with a “virulent vehemence for vermin” may have been interested to see the role of Citywide Director of Rodent Mitigation was advertised the New York City Mayor’s Office last month. The salary on offer was between $120,000 and $170,000 for the right candidate with “a general aura of badassery”.

In a somewhat unconventional job description, the advert mixed a standard blend of day-to-day duties with a sprinkling of Tony Soprano: “The ideal candidate is highly motivated and somewhat bloodthirsty, determined to look at all solutions from various angles, including improving operational efficiency, data collection, technology innovation, trash management, and wholesale slaughter.”

However, the new “rat czar” may face an uphill battle and will probably need to work hard to earn their money. According to the New York Post, a pest control expert it interviewed had a stark warning: “The rats are going to win.”