The Green Shift in 2024: Renewable Energy, Retrofits, and Employment Law Considerations

Mohammad Chaudhry
Mohammad Chaudhry

Published: June 18th, 2024

5 mins read

The global focus on sustainability is driving a surge in renewable energy adoption and building retrofits. While these initiatives offer environmental benefits, they also present significant changes for businesses and their employees. From potential job redeployment to new skill requirements, understanding the employment law implications of this green transition is crucial for employers and employees alike.

The Rise of Renewables and Retrofits:

Renewable Energy: Solar, wind, and geothermal energy sources are gaining traction in the UK. As of April 2024, 40.6% of the UK’s energy mix comes from renewables, with wind being the dominant source at 29.7% (Source: Cladco Decking). This growth is creating new jobs in installation, maintenance, and manufacturing.

Retrofits: The UK government is committed to improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings. Initiatives like Energiesprong retrofits, which can reduce a home’s energy demand by 80% and potentially generate as much energy as it consumes (Source: Green Alliance), are driving demand for skilled professionals in insulation, heating system upgrades, and energy-efficient building materials.

Employment Law Considerations:

TUPE Transfers: When businesses in the traditional energy sector transition to renewables, existing employees might be transferred to new companies under TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations). TUPE safeguards employee rights during such transfers, ensuring continuity of employment contracts and consultation regarding potential changes.

Redundancy: The shift towards renewables might lead to job redundancies in traditional energy sectors. Employment law requires employers to follow a fair redundancy process, including consultation with employees and exploring alternatives like retraining or redevelopment.

Skills and Training: The green transition demands new skills in areas like renewable energy technology and energy efficiency measures. Employers might need to invest in training programs to equip existing employees with the necessary skills or upskill them for new roles.

Employee Consultation: Employees have the right to be consulted about significant changes in the workplace, including those arising from the green transition. Open communication and consultation with employees throughout the transition process is crucial. This helps address concerns, encourages cooperation, and minimises disruption.

Benefits and Challenges:

New Job Opportunities: The green shift creates new job opportunities in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and related sectors. It is estimated that between 135,000 and 725,000 net new jobs could be created by 2030 in low-carbon sectors, such as building retrofit, renewable energy generation and the manufacture of electric vehicles (source: A Just Transition for Workers: Employment Implications of a Carbon Neutral Economy by the International Labour Organisation (ILO)).

Reskilling and Upskilling: The transition might necessitate reskilling and upskilling existing workforces, potentially requiring collaboration between employers, governments, and training institutions. It is important to identify the skill gaps compared to the demands of the green transition and then develop or source relevant training programs to bridge the identified gaps (this could involve internal training initiatives, partnerships with educational institutions, or industry- specific training programs).

Job Displacement: While new jobs emerge, some traditional energy jobs might be lost. Employers have a responsibility to ensure a fair and transparent redundancy process if necessary.

The Road Ahead:

The transition to a more sustainable future requires a focus on both environmental benefits and the well-being of the workforce. By understanding and complying with employment law regulations, businesses can navigate the green shift effectively, ensuring a just transition for their employees while contributing to a greener world.

The green shift would also require to recruit skilled workers from overseas or from EU countries to fulfil the increasing demand as more businesses and private households would be shifting towards the more cost effective green energy for them.

The Government can place these job roles on the immigration salary list and make the visa applications more straightforward so they can be processed at the earliest.

Conclusion:

The renewable energy and retrofit revolution presents both challenges and opportunities from an employment  law and business immigration perspective. Through proactive planning, communication, and investment in skills development and recruitment of specialist workers in this sector, businesses can ensure a smooth transition for their workforce while embracing a more sustainable future.

For assistance with navigating situations arising from the green transition please do not hesitate to get in touch with our specialist Employment and Business immigration team.


For further information please contact Mohammad Chaudhry

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