There are lots of changes on the horizon this year, which will impact your employees, policies and working practices. We have therefore prepared a quick rundown of what to expect in Employment Law in 2023!
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The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill 2022-2023.
Flexible working has been all over the news in the past few years. So, what is changing?
- Currently an employee must have 26 weeks’ service with their employer, before they can make a flexible working request.
- This ‘qualifying period’ of service is to be removed, with flexible working to become a ‘day one’ right.
- The response time that an employer has to give to a request for flexible working will change from three to two months.
- The number of requests an employee can make will change from one to two in any 12-month period.
- Employees won’t have to explain how their requirements will impact the business.
- There is to be a new duty to discuss alternatives with the employee if they can’t accommodate the original request.
All changes, other than the day one right to request flexible working, are included in the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill 2022-23. We are unsure when this bill will be passed, although at the time of writing, it is within its second reading in the house of lords.
The ‘day one’ right to request flexible working requires secondary legislation to be introduced once the Bill is passed. The government simply stated that this would take place when Parliamentary time allows.
It will be important to update your flexible working policy, to reflect the changes once introduced.
Preventing Workplace Harassment
Employees are protected, under the Equality Act 2010, from workplace harassment, on the grounds of a protected characteristic. The new bill, Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill 2022-23, is currently making its way through parliament, will extend the range of safeguards in place for employees, and place a greater obligation on employers.
The bill will:
- Re-introduce liability for employers in respect of third-party harassment
- Introduce a new duty on employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of their employees.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has been asked to re-write the code of practice on harassment.
Both new obligations will place a positive duty on employers to implement proactive measures in the workplace and take all reasonable steps to prevent harassment. Again, this bill has not yet become law, but we recommend employers get ahead of the curve and implement early measures. Please contact us for further information in respect of the measures your business can take.
Extended Protection against Redundancies
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill is also likely to become law. It proposes to extend the period of protection from redundancy for employees after maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave.
In respect of pregnancy and maternity, it will apply to employees from the point they tell their employer they are pregnant and for 18 months from the start of their maternity leave.
Similar provisions will apply to employees who are adopting a child and taking shared parental leave (although will not apply until they start the leave).
This extends the current protection already in place. It’s worth noting that the right protected is the right to be offered a suitable alternative role if provisionally selected for redundancy.
Paid Time Off for Parents of Sick and Premature Babies
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill will allow new parents to take paid time off to spend time with a child who is admitted to hospital for 7 days or more, within the first 28 days of birth.
Although we await further details, it looks like parents will be able to request this leave from day 1 of employment but will only be entitled to pay if they have 26 weeks’ service. We will keep you posted on the developments!
The Carers Leave Bill is intended to support long-term carers, although not law yet, it is nearing its final stages.
This, we expect to be a day one right, so no qualifying length of service required, to take one week’s unpaid leave per year to provide care to a dependent. There is a list of people who fall into the definition of dependent.
It will apply to those with a long-term care need, which has been defined as 3 months or more. Care needs can be mental or physical but should relate to either a disability or a need for care due to old age.
Fair Distribution of Tips
The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill is in its second reading in the House of Lords.
The passing of this bill will mean all tips, gratuities and service charges (regardless of payment method) will need to be fairly distributed to employees and will not be in the ownership of the employer.
Employers will need to keep a record of how they distribute tips, who to and when, and maintain and keep these records for 3 years from the day the tip was paid.
As the liability of this ends with the employer, it is important a policy is put in place and followed to help them prove fairness.
Further details of how this will work are to be set out in a ‘Code of Practice’ which the government will issue to promote fairness and transparency.