The period covering the pandemic has been especially challenging yet relatively interesting for employment lawyers, for instance when dealing with fast developing new legal areas (especially what was a new concept of furlough leave); clients who often required urgent or strategic advice; and a drop then resurgence in employment tribunal claims at the same time requiring new ways of engaging in Tribunal hearings remotely.
The Employment Law Committee quickly adapted to the restrictions upon us all and has remained very active, continuing to meet monthly by video conference, with consistently strong attendance at meetings.
The Committee considered proposed changes to the law and liaised with parties and organisations connected with employment law, for example preparing a wide ranging survey on ET delays and cancellations which we presented to the Midlands Regional Employment Judge.
This past year saw fewer Government consultations on employment law than usual, yet the Committee still considered and responded to four separate consultations where we provided relevant views and opinions drawing on the wide ranging experience and representative interests of our Committee. We discussed and debated the consultations and prepared, refined and submitted responses, all of which were detailed and lengthy. Two consultations stood out as being particularly relevant to the practices of BLS members, concerning Carer’s Leave, and significant proposed reform about the use of non-compete covenants in employment contracts.
We welcomed as guests to our meetings (then) Regional Employment Judge Monk; Regional Director of ACAS Malcolm Boswell; and the newly elected Chair of the Employment Lawyers Association, Marian Bloodworth. All guests provided informative insights and updates in their respective areas.
In November we organised and hosted a panel discussion involving four Employment Judges from the West Midlands Region. The event proved very popular with BLS members and the format worked very well. We also, in May 2021, co-hosted a “Question Time” in conjunction with the Employment Lawyers.
Association on the topic of Covid recovery. It was extremely well attended and raised a number of interesting and thought provoking employment law issues.
I have been greatly encouraged by the positivity and enthusiasm shown by our Committee during a very challenging period. We all look forward to the opportunity for to meet again in person, albeit our success in holding our meetings and events virtually suggests there is likely to be a role for that going forwards.