CIPD in the news: from continuing the conversation on hybrid and flexible working to advocating for enhanced sick pay

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

Throughout the month of January, the CIPD continued to provide expert insight and commentary on the changing world of work. The easing of Coronavirus restrictions in the UK sparked further conversations about hybrid and flexible working. Whether to provide enhanced sick pay for unvaccinated staff was also a hot topic, following news that a handful of large businesses will no longer offer this. Elsewhere, the CIPD continued to push for mandatory ethnicity pay reporting. 

Returning to workplaces and embedding hybrid and flexible working practices

This month many businesses in the UK have been eyeing up a return to office spaces and considering what their new ways of working will look like. While the Omicron variant continues to spread, it remains critical that any return to workplaces is done with worker safety and wellbeing front of mind.

At the beginning of the month, CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme (starts 1:21:58) to talk about the challenges employers currently face. Peter touched on wellbeing considerations, how organisations are coping with staffing shortages due to illness, and expectations around home and hybrid working.  This was also an opportunity to reiterate the CIPD’s recent call to reform the UK’s Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) system so that it provides a better financial safety net for those who cannot work due to illness.

More recently, the CIPD’s head of public policy Ben Willmott was quoted in a BBC article about working from home guidance being lifted and the shift to hybrid working.

A key consideration for those introducing hybrid working is how to make sure it’s inclusive and fair for all workers, regardless of their location. CIPD senior policy adviser Claire McCartney spoke to the AJ Bell Money Matters podcast for an episode looking at the pros and cons of hybrid working for women. Claire urged: ’When organisations are thinking about introducing more remote working or hybrid working, they need to make sure they're putting inclusion and fairness at the heart of what they're doing so that everyone has the same opportunities’.

In other flexible working news, it was announced that 30 British companies have joined a new pilot scheme to trial a four-day working week, which will see employees receive the same pay for working fewer hours. This mirrors trials in other countries including Iceland, New Zealand and Spain. CIPD membership director David D’Souza appeared on Times Radio (piece starts around 02:12:40) to talk about new ways of working and the trust between management and workers.

Offering enhanced sick pay for workers regardless of vaccination status

Businesses have been considering how COVID vaccination status could impact people’s sick pay this month. The likes of Ikea, Morrisons and Next are among employers that have confirmed unvaccinated staff required to self-isolate will only be paid SSP, rather than occupational sick pay. 

Ben Willmott was quoted in a BBC article on this, while senior policy adviser Rachel Suff provided comment to The HR World. She cautioned: ‘Employers should follow their usual sick pay policy for any employee who needs to self-isolate due to COVID-19. Different policies depending on an employee’s vaccination status could be quite complex and come with potential legal risks. They could also be divisive for the workforce.’ 

Making the case for mandatory ethnicity pay reporting

This month senior policy adviser Charles Cotton gave evidence to the Women and Equalities Select Committee in a one-off session looking at ethnicity pay reporting. Charles echoed the CIPD’s call from September for it to be made mandatory from 2023 for businesses of 250+ employees so they and their stakeholders can identify inequalities in the workplace. He made the case that businesses should have to publish a narrative and action plan as well as the headline figures.

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