Quick fire - October 2021

28 October 2021

Tips and gratuities, flexible working requests, medical exemption from vaccination are all included in this month's Quick fire round-up.

Tips and gratuities

The Government has published its response to the 2016 consultation on measures to ensure that tips, gratuities, cover and service charges are retained by workers in the hospitality industry.

The response confirms that the following measures will be included in a forthcoming Employment Bill in order to secure certain payments for workers:

  • employers must not make any deductions from tips received by staff, other than as required under tax law
  • employers must distribute tips in a fair and transparent way, with a written policy on tips and a record of how tips have been dealt with
  • workers will have the right to request information relating to an employer’s tipping record, and employers must respond to such a request 
  • within four weeks
  • a new statutory Code of Practice on Tipping will replace the existing voluntary code.

There is currently no confirmed timescale for these measures to take effect, with the proposed Employment Bill to include the necessary statutory provisions due to be published “when Parliamentary time allows”.

Flexible working requests

A recent survey carried out by the Trade Union Congress in conjunction with Mother Pukka (an online portal aimed at parents) of 13,000 working mothers found that half of them had had their request for flexible working rejected, or only partly accepted by their employer. Of those who were working flexibly, 86% said that they had been subjected to discrimination and disadvantage as a result.

Many respondents reported that they were worried about asking for flexible working, with 42% concerned about their employer’s reaction. The same percentage considered there to be no point asking as their request would be turned down.

The TUC has campaigned for a legal right to flexible working to be advertised with every job. The Government is currently consulting on its proposals for making flexible working the ‘default position’ from day one of employment, but the consultation confirms that the Government does not consider it to be the right time to introduce a statutory requirement for employers to specify in job adverts whether flexible working is available.

Medical exemption from vaccination

Further guidance has been published by the Department of Health and Social Care on how care workers in England should apply for proof that they are medically exempt from vaccination against COVID-19.

From 11 November 2021, all care home workers and others who enter care homes are required to be fully vaccinated, unless they are exempt. Operational guidance was originally published by DHSC in August 2021 (see our previous Quick Fire item).

The new guidance is applicable to anyone who is unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons and is not just limited to care home workers. Individuals must apply for exemption by completing a medical exemption application form, which is available by calling the NHS COVID Pass service on 119. The form then has to be returned to the relevant GP or clinician for review. If an individual is granted exemption, they will be able to use the NHS COVID Pass as proof.

The temporary self-certification process that has been in place for care home workers will end on 24 December 2021, after which those with medical exemption must use the NHS COVID Pass in the same way as those who are fully vaccinated.

A consultation has recently closed on whether to extend compulsory vaccination to frontline NHS and social care staff. The Government’s response has not yet been published but Health Secretary Savid Javid is reported to be leaning towards such an extension.

These articles are from the October 2021 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. For further information please contact a member of Birketts' Employment Team.

The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at October 2021.


Liz Stevens

Professional Support Lawyer

+44 (0)1603 756474

+44 (0)7580 355031


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