Employment Law Changes expected in 2023
This year will most likely see a number of changes to UK employment laws which all employers need to be aware of and plan for.
The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill
Following the UK’s departure from the European Union this Bill if passed means all retained EU law must be transferred into UK law by 31 December 2023 or it will stop being law in the UK. Observers are concerned that this could mean the loss of a number of important employment rights for UK workers, which includes the Working Time Regulations 1998, the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment Regulations 2006, TUPE) and Agency Worker Regulations.
The Government can choose to extend this deadline to 23 June 2026, but at the moment there is little indication as to which way it will proceed.
Pregnancy and Family Leave Bill 2022-23
If this Bill is passed, the Government will be able to introduce new regulations to provide more protection for women available on maternity leave which gives them the same cover they currently have during pregnancy for a six-month period after they return to work. There will also be enhanced protections for employees who are taking adoption or shared paternal leave. This Private Members Bill is currently at the report stage and it is expected to be passed.
Amended Equality Act 2010 Bill 2022-23
This is also a Private Members Bill which if passed means employers have an obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent employees from being harassed during their employment by third parties which will include customers, clients, suppliers etc. There will also be a new duty for employers to take ‘all reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment of employees. If employers breach this duty, there will be an increase of up to 25% of compensation awarded for such claims.
Flexible Working Consultation
The Government has published the consultation response and it supports the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill. This includes workers rights to request flexible working from the first day of their employment and removes the current 26 week qualifying period which requires employers to consult with employees before a rejection to such a request is made. It will also allow employees to make two flexible working requests each year and employers must respond to these within a two month period.
Employment (Allocation of Tips)
Also a Private Members Bill and if passed will mean employers have a legal obligation to allocate tips, service charges and gratuities fairly between employees. They will also be required to have and implement a written policy which sets out which tips qualify and which employees get to keep them or if they are to be shared, how that allocation is made. This won’t include cash tips given directly to employees and only applies to those which the employer receives directly or has influence over.
Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill 2022-23
Another Private Members Bill, this legislation if passed will give parents with a child who is receiving or who has received neonatal care the statutory entitlement of a minimum of one week’s neonatal care leave, (paid if the employee has at least 26 week’s service), which can be taken up to 68 weeks after the date of the child’s birth. This will apply to all employees, regardless of their length of service and will offer protection from dismissal or detriment if they take the leave.
Carer’s Leave Bill 2022-23
This Private Members Bill if passed will give the government new powers to regulate an employee’s right to carer’s leave. It is proposed that employees will be entitled to unpaid carer’s leave of at least one week in a 12 month period to enable them to care for a dependent (spouse, civil partner, child or parent) who has long-term care needs. The employee will also be protected from dismissal or detriment if they take the leave which will be available to all employees from their first day of employment.
Each of these Bills are anticipated to receive Royal Assent later this year and secondary legislation required to implement them will follow in 2024. Employers clearly need to start thinking about these provisions and how they can be incorporated into their existing workplace policies.