The battle for talent has seen the issue of ‘greener
employment’ surge up the agenda for many businesses seeking to
be more appealing to future employees.
Olivia Bailey and Lucy McKevitt from Harrison Drury’s
employment law team along with environmental specialist Chloe
Harrison from our property litigation team, outline their top tips
to help make your business more attractive to prospective employees
seeking a greener workplace.
A recent study by Unily reported that 83 per cent of workers did
not feel their workplaces were taking sufficient action to tackle
climate change, with 65 per cent stating that they would be more
likely to work for a company with robust environmental
This demonstrates an increasing trend among employees who prefer
to, or choose to, work within a workplace with more sustainable
policies. This is likely to have an impact on employee engagement
and retention if business owners do not take suitable measures to
create a ‘greener’ working environment.
To ensure to be seen as a desirable place to work and a business
able to draw top talent, it is advisable that employers revisit
their company policies and employee handbooks, in order to attract
and retain this talent.
Here are our top tips for employers and HR professionals to help
demonstrate to employees their commitment to adopting an
environmental policy and proactively seeking to reduce their
company’s carbon footprint:
1. Review terms and conditions for contractors and
One solution is utilising climate-friendly contract provisions.
The Chancery Lane Project, a pro bono initiative
comprised of lawyers from across the globe, has produced a range of
climate conscious clauses which can be incorporated into various
types of contracts. These offer a practical means to help companies
reach the goal of net zero carbon emissions.
For example, the Project’s “Renewable Energy
Requirements in Supply Contracts” provides precedent clauses
for a supply agreement that requires the supplier/contractor to
procure energy from renewable sources. This may involve supply
chain agreements, contracting carriers that only use energy
efficient or electric vehicles, or stipulating a requirement that a
specified percentage of road journeys must be taken using more fuel
efficient ‘greener’ HGVs.
2. Employment contracts
The Chancery Lane Project also provides draft
clauses for use in employment contracts. For example, the
Project’s “Employee Climate Engagement Provisions”
provides a clause for employment contracts requiring the employer
to provide, and the employee to participate in, a range of climate
education and awareness-raising interventions.
This type of agreement empowers employees to participate and
actively engage in the climate ambitions and net zero targets of
Draft wording has also been prepared for inclusion in a
whistleblowing policy, to extend its application to disclosure of
climate issues and non-adherence to the company’s
These provisions are clearly aspirational and are not currently
considered as standard employment contract clauses, however,
businesses may benefit from introducing them over time to take a
proactive approach to managing environmental concerns.
If you plan to update your employment contracts to include such
clauses it is strongly recommended to seek legal advice first to
ensure they comply with other areas of employment law.
3. Employee benefits and endorsements
Considering the increased concern in environmental issues across
the workforce (particularly among ‘millennials’ and
‘Gen Z’ groups), employers may also consider offering
benefits and implementing policies to encourage employees take more
sustainable measures as part of their work/life balance.
These may include:
- Giving additional leave to employees who opt for stay-cations
and/or use more sustainable transport to reach their holiday
- Subsidising the cost of electric vehicles and/or providing
electric car charging ports within office parking facilities.
- Offering discounted season tickets and loans for employees who
opt to use public transport or join cycling schemes.
- Accommodating flexible working to reduce travel between the
workplace and subsequently carbon emissions.
While employee benefits and contractual provisions will go some
way to help improve an employer’s green credentials, it is
important that other aspects of the business are not overlooked as
part of a wider environmental policy.
4. Energy efficiency
One aspect which is likely to be the biggest contributor to a
business’s carbon footprint, as well as potentially being one
of the biggest financial burdens, is the energy efficiency of
If office premises are rented commercial premises, and energy
efficiency ratings are lower than a grade B, it is worth exploring
this point with the landlord, as the 2015 Energy Efficiency
(Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations (MEES
Regulations) has set minimum standards for Energy Performance
Certificates (EPCs) for private rented properties in England and
If a commercial lease is being granted now and may still be in
place between 2027 and 2030, the terms of such leases should be
considered carefully to ensure they contain provisions needed in
order for the landlord to remedy any energy efficiency issues.
Alternatively, if the business owns its office building(s)
outright, reviewing energy efficiency measures with a qualified
surveyor would provide an insight into the most cost-effective
actions that can be taken to improve the efficiency of the
Your competitive edge
There are many options available to businesses seeking to reduce
their carbon footprint. Although some of these options may require
some financial outlay for example installing solar panels or
providing a cycle to work scheme, it is important that business
owners consider the competitive edge they are likely to gain in
attracting and retaining talent, alongside the role they can play
in addressing climate change.
Additionally, in view of the growing appetite among the consumer
market, it is further important that companies can back up any
green credentials with internal policies.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.