New laws to protect workers from “threat and intimidation”

Employers may be forced to provide references for former employees under new employment laws proposed this week.

The measure forms part of a package of enhanced workers’ rights designed to “level the playing field” between employees and employers.

According to the report, published by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the Government will consult on whether employers could be stopped from withholding references to an employee.

The move would effectively prevent the practice of employers using references as a bargaining chip, protecting workers from threat and intimidation.

The proposals also address the misuse of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and workplace discrimination.

In response to the inquiry on NDAs conducted by the Women and Equalities Select Committee (WESC) in July, the Government said it will uphold many of its recommendations.

This includes ensuring that confidentiality clauses cannot prevent individuals disclosing to the police, regulated health and care professionals or legal professionals.

The recommendations also suggest extending current legislation so that individuals signing NDAs will get independent legal advice on the limitations of a confidentiality clause.

Commenting on the report, Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: “I am determined to make the UK the best place to work and grow a business – including levelling the playing field between employees and employers. The overwhelming majority of businesses comply with the law, treating their employees with respect and fairness.

“But we cannot tolerate the small minority that use nasty tactics like non-disclosure agreements and withholding references to pressure employees into silence, often in cases of serious wrongdoing. These proposals ensure individuals are protected, striking a fair balance between the interests of employers and workers.”

At Carter Lemon Camerons, our employment lawyers provide practical, day-to-day support covering the full range of employment law issues from recruitment and employee incentive schemes to dismissal and risk management.

For help and advice on employment law, contact Andrew Firman and Kate Boguslawska in our employment team today.