The Legal Services Board of England and Wales has approved two changes to the Solicitors Regulation Authority Standards and Regulations. The rule changes aim to improve work place culture in law firms. The new rules make explicit the need for employees to be treated fairly and for managers to challenge any treatment deemed not to meet the standards set.
The new rules follow workplace guidelines published last year in the wake of a number of complaints that “some firms have an unsupportive, bullying or toxic working environment and culture.”
The two amendments related to health and fitness to practise and wellbeing at work.
For wellbeing at work, the amendments seek to:
- make explicit the requirement to treat colleagues fairly and with respect;
- require managers to challenge behaviour that does not meet this standard;
- require firms to treat those who work for and with them fairly and with respect, and to require employees to meet that standard.
For health and fitness to practise, the amendments seek to clarify that the SRA is able to:
- take into account anything, including health, which indicates solicitors may be unfit to meet regulatory obligations or be subject to investigations or proceedings; and
- impose conditions upon individuals in certain circumstances for any reason including health issues, lack of competence or misconduct including the inability to comply with regulatory arrangements (including investigatory/disciplinary processes).