Green contracts of employment
As a small business, it is often difficult to know how to make a dent in the effort to reverse the effects of climate change on the planet. It can feel so overwhelming that it is easy to feel powerless. However, even very small changes add up to make a difference. Here at Howarths we are inspired by the work of The Chancery Lane Project, a global collaboration of lawyers seeking to develop new contracts and model laws to help fight climate change. Their vision is a world where every contract and law enable solutions to climate change.
So, how does this apply to employment law? Through clever thinking and application of solutions that have a positive impact on the environment, businesses could look to their HR documentation and consider inserting new wording and clauses into contracts of employment, the company staff handbook and/or policies which reflect the company’s environmental stance. Examples include as follows:
- A climate career break, allowing members of staff to take up to one month off work at reduced pay for volunteering at an environmental organisation (approved in advance).
- A sustainable commuting policy promoting, encouraging and perhaps incentivising methods of transport which reduce emissions.
- A dress code encouraging consideration of the environmental footprint of the clothes worn at work.
- A sustainability induction for all new starters setting out the businesses approach to environmental sustainability.
These suggested insertions and alterations to HR documents are aspirational, rather than legally mandated (for now), however, in a world where buying decisions are more and more based upon the ethical values of a business, and where consumers are becoming ever more discerning about spending their money with businesses who take their social responsibility seriously, the move towards legal and HR documentation which caters for the environmental impact of climate change could be something to very seriously consider.
For those businesses who are interested in the above and would like to know more, please contact your dedicated advisor at Howarths on 01274 864999, who would be more than happy to discuss the options around redrafting your documentation to take account your business efforts to reverse the effect of climate change.