CIPD in the news: championing access to flexible working and helping employers navigate COVID vaccinations

A round-up of some of the CIPD’s latest work to champion better work and working lives

Throughout February the CIPD engaged with the media, policy makers and people professionals to drive change on a number of issues relating to inclusion and diversity at work. 

From launching a new campaign calling for the right to request flexible working from day one of employment, to providing advice and guidance on the impact of COVID-19 vaccinations on the workforce, the CIPD continues its commitment to supporting employers and improving working lives. 

The right to request flexible working from day one 

On 1 February the CIPD launched its Flex From 1st campaign to make flexible working more accessible for all. The campaign calls on organisations and government to make the right to request flexible working a day-one right for all employees, as CIPD research found nearly half (46%) of employees do not have flexible working arrangements in their current role. The CIPD warns that unequal access to flexible working could create divisions in the workforce. It calls for employers to look beyond remote working and offer different forms of flexible working – such as flexi-time, part-time working, compressed hours or job shares – so that opportunity and choice is available to all employees, regardless of their role.

The Flex From 1st campaign was picked up by The Guardian and BBC Radio 4’s early morning news bulletin, as well as the i newspaper, The Yorkshire Post and The Scotsman. It was also covered by several HR titles, including Personnel Today and HR Magazine and our own People Management magazine. The campaign was well received across the CIPD’s social media channels, with our posts receiving high engagement and many voicing their support. Twitter followers shared their own experiences of flexible working, while some organisations used the opportunity to share their commitment to offering flexible working arrangements. Over on LinkedIn, HR professionals also shared their own blogs about why they champion flexible working.

Flex From 1st will be an ongoing campaign for the CIPD, with sustained activity planned for the beginning of each month over the next year. There will be more real-life stories and case study content from both employees and employers, and ways for members to get involved by championing the CIPD’s call with their local MP. 

On 9 February, Small Business Minister Paul Scully wrote to Peter Cheese, CIPD chief executive, confirming that he will continue to Co-Chair the Flexible Working Task Force. The Minister has recommissioned the Task Force, which previously sat for eighteen months, to consider as a group what has been learnt by employers over the past ten months of the pandemic and explore the opportunities to drive a culture of wider flexible working. Its first job, however, is to conduct a six-month review to identify the key issues relating to ‘hybrid’ and other ways of working and produce guidance for employers.
 

Highlighting barriers and enablers to improve LGBT+ workplace inclusion

As part of LGBT History Month, the CIPD released its new Inclusion at work: perspectives on LGBT+ working lives research. The report explores LGBT+ experiences of work, from conflict and wellbeing to job outcomes, finding that LGBT+ employees are more likely to experience workplace conflict and harassment than their heterosexual, cisgender counterparts. 

The findings of the report, which suggest that much more needs to be done at organisational level to protect, support and include LGBT+ workers, was covered by The Daily Telegraph, HR Magazine, Personnel Today and Office Insight, as well as Pink News.

Recommendations for employers include ensuring that LGBT+ staff feel safe to highlight problems and provide solutions on the issue of inclusion and to lead by example with strong buy-in from senior executives. Organisations should also encourage companywide learning and conversations on inclusion, as well as ensuring appropriate training has been given to line managers to understand particular concerns and challenges faced by LGBT+ workers. Most importantly, it advises organisations to treat people as individuals and recognise that they may have particular needs and challenges that may not be met by broad LGBT+ initiatives and policies.

 

Guidance for employers on the impact of the COVID-19 vaccination for their workforce

With the COVID-19 vaccination rollout underway in the UK, the CIPD is working to advise and guide employers and people professionals on the potential impact on the workforce and the wider population. The CIPD’s new practical guidance helps employers to navigate vaccinations and the return to the workplace. It covers encouraging vaccinations and how to communicate this, adopting a vaccination policy, planning for employees who can’t have the vaccine and employees who may be hesitant or refuse, and asking employees (and prospective employees) if they have had the vaccine. 

In a media statement, chief executive Peter Cheese stressed that the Government hasn’t made the vaccine compulsory so neither can employers. This was picked up by various national media including The Daily Telegraph, the Financial Times and Metro.co.uk. Peter also discussed the issue on air with LBC radio, cautioning that employers must be careful if looking to write vaccinations into employment contracts, as this could lead to discrimination.

To accompany the guidance, the CIPD ran a webinar on COVID-19 vaccination and the workplace to discuss how to approach the vaccination of your workforce and the legal implications to consider. The webinar had over 1500 registrants and the speakers received over 120 questions, demonstrating the huge appetite for information on how employers and people professionals should be approaching this issue. 

 

Supporting economic recovery following the pandemic

For some months, the CIPD has been urging the government to review the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, calling for it to be extended to at least the end of June. Currently, the scheme is due to end in April.

The latest Labour Market Outlook from CIPD/Adecco found organisations are reporting their strongest employment intentions since the pandemic began, with the number of employers intending to make redundancies in the first quarter of 2021 down from 30% to 20% compared to the last quarter. Employers are also reporting a slight uptick in recruitment activity for the first three months of this year. However, the CIPD cautions that more jobs could be lost if the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme isn’t extended or if the economy suffers any further unexpected shocks. 

Various national outlets covered the report including BBC News, The Times, the i newspaper, The Yorkshire Post and The Scotsman. It was also picked up across BBC national and regional radio stations, as well as LBC and talkRADIO.

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