SRA consultation on health and wellbeing at work rules – Law Society response

The proposals

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is consulting on proposed changes to its health and wellbeing at work rules.

The proposals aim to make it clear that regulated workplaces must treat colleagues with dignity and respect, and if that doesn’t happen, the SRA’s proposals would put in place additional regulatory powers to deal with firms and individuals in order to protect clients and the public.

It's also proposing to put in place regulation that would enable it to take action where necessary if a solicitor’s health is affecting their fitness to practise or ability to participate in enforcement processes.

Our view

“We’re supportive of the principles of treating people fairly, but we oppose the need to introduce additional regulation,” said Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce.

Whilst we recognise the importance of ensuring fair and equitable workplace culture, the consultation paper lacks supporting evidence, particularly with regard to the harm the SRA’s proposals are intended to address.

The proposals run the risk of overstepping the SRA’s regulatory duties under the Legal Services Act 2007, and will significantly widen the responsibilities placed on solicitors without any clarity as to:

  • why they’re necessary
  • how these would be managed in terms of enforceability, or
  • how far reaching the impact may be

We therefore encourage the SRA to provide more detailed proposals for us to review.

In our view, a more appropriate and proportionate approach at this stage would be to encourage good practice and compliance with the existing SRA Principles and regulations, whilst engaging with the profession to identify specific gaps and the most suitable ways to address these.

Next steps

The consultation closed on 27 May 2022.

We’ve offered to work with the SRA on this issue. We’re engaging with:

  • solicitors involved with regulatory work who have in-depth knowledge of the issues the SRA raises, and
  • the Lawyers with Disabilities Division, who must be involved in any proposals that would affect them

Read the consultation on the SRA website

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