According to a press release, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is asking for feedback via a consultation on health and wellbeing in legal firms.
Within the consultation are proposed changes to its rules that would strengthen its powers to deal with risks to clients and the public arising from a poor work culture in law firms.
The proposed changes include:
- Introducing explicit obligations in the Codes of Conduct for both firms and individuals to treat colleagues fairly and with respect, and not to engage in bullying, harassment and unfair discrimination
- Clarifying that the SRA can take action to manage risks arising from an individual solicitor’s health issues at any point, including at the admission stage, and through conditions on a practising certificate or registration.
This comes as a recent SRA Workplace Culture Thematic Review found that although three-quarters of respondents reported working in a broadly positive environment, there are still concerns and issues about the pressures on solicitors.
Previous research, including by the charity LawCare and the Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society, has highlighted high levels of stress and even bullying and discrimination in the sector.
Professional service practices such as screening can report to employers the employment and legal histories of potential hires, potentially highlighting any discrepancies or potential issues in relation to negative behaviours.
The consultation runs until Friday 27 May. Once feedback has been reviewed, the SRA will report to its Board for a final decision. Any proposals for additional rules would then be submitted to the Legal Services Board for final approval.
Earlier in the year, the SRA announced new resources providing law firms with support and guidance on creating healthy working environments. Click here for more.