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12 Months of 2023: July

As we reach the end of the year, our 12 days of Christmas countdown revisits the key events of each month.

In July, Royal Mail settled industrial relations disputes, the government announced plans for more flexible paternity leave, a workplace bullying bill was proposed and McDonalds came under fire for widespread harassment allegations.

Royal Mail settles dispute after 14 months of strikes

Royal Mail workers, represented by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) accepted a deal that will end a 14 month dispute over pay and conditions.

The deal, which was reached in April after 18 strike dates, won 67% of the union’s vote. 

Staff will get a 10% pay rise over three years and a one-off lump sum of £500. 

In return, Royal Mail won concessions including new seasonal working patterns, later starting times and regular Sunday working. 

There will also be an independent inquiry into suspended or sacked workers and reduced use of agency workers, as sought by the CWU. 


Flexible paternity leave plans announced by government

In July 2019, the government opened a consultation on reforming parental leave and pay but the response to the consultation, published last week (29 June), was significantly delayed by the pandemic. 

Under current legislation, employees can take paternity leave at the statutory rate of pay in a one- or two-week block during the first eight weeks after a child is born or adopted.

Yet the government announced plans to allow fathers or partners to split their leave into two blocks of one week.  

Fathers will also be able to take their leave and pay at any point in the first year after their child is born or adopted, instead of only within the first eight weeks. 

The reforms will adjust the way fathers or partners give notice of leave and pay to their employer, meaning employees must give notice that they want to take leave 15 weeks prior to the expected week of childbirth, and then four weeks before each period of leave.


Workplace bullying to be defined and abolished by new bill

Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central, presented a bill to parliament on 11 July which aims to stamp out workplace bullying.

The bill would require employers to establish mechanisms for reporting, investigating, and punishing bullying.

It would also promote positive behaviours through a Respect at Work Code, which would specify behaviours classed as bullying, enforced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). 

The bill's reading followed the exit of deputy prime minister Dominic Raab in May this year who resigned following bullying allegations.


McDonald's sexual harassment alleged by staff

More than 100 UK McDonald's staff alleged working in a toxic culture of sexual assault, harassment, racism and bullying according to a new investigation by the BBC.

The BBC’s report found workers as young as 17 were being groped and harassed during their employment at the fast-food chain. 

One claim from a 17-year-old current employee in Cheshire said a colleague 20 years older than her called her a racial slur, asked to show her his penis, and said he wanted to make a "black and white" baby with her.  

Another claim regarded a manager in Hampshire who suggested a 16-year-old male worker perform sexual acts in exchange for vapes. 

Of the more than 100 allegations from employees made to the BBC during its investigation, 31 related to sexual assault, and 78 related to sexual harassment. 

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