Employment law is dynamic and ever evolving with legislation often responding to a changing social, economic, technological, and political landscape. Any adjustments in legislation are aimed at ensuring that the rights and protections of both employees and employers are relevant and effective in the modern workplace.
Given the fluid nature of employment law, it can often be difficult for employers to keep on top of all the changes and make the necessary preparations ahead of time. As a new year approaches, we shine a light on some of the employment law changes on the horizon that should be on your radar.
The Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023
Likely to come into force from 1st January 2024, this legislation will amend the law relating to holiday pay, TUPE and working time.
The government has proposed to introduce rolled up holiday pay as an option for all workers. This should, in theory, significantly reduce the administrative burden of calculating holiday pay for those who work irregular hours and are part year workers.
TUPE consultation requirements will also change. The proposed reforms will allow small businesses (with fewer than 50 employees) and businesses of any size undertaking a small transfer (of fewer than ten employees) to consult directly with their employees if there are no existing worker representatives in place.
With respect to working time, the government has confirmed that businesses do not have to keep a record of workers daily working hours. Businesses will still be required to keep records to demonstrate compliance with the Working Time Regulations. However, this proposal intends to remove the requirement on businesses to keep very detailed records that were often disproportionate to the cost, and administrative burden.
Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act
Having gained Royal Assent in the summer of 2023, this new legislation will enable employees to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period (compared to just one under current law). Employers must respond within two months (compared to three). Also, employees will also not be required to explain the impact that granting their request would have on the business.
Though not specifically stated in the Bill, it is expected that employees will be able to make a flexible working request from day one of their employment. Currently, an individual needs to have been employed for 26 weeks to make such a request.
Carer’s Leave Act
The Carer’s Leave Act guarantees eligible employees the statutory right to take one week’s leave per year to care for a dependent. This includes a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, a person who lives in the same household as the employee (other than by reason of them being their employee, tenant, lodger or boarder), or a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care.
Carer’s leave will be a day one right, meaning that from the moment an employee joins a company, they will have access to this support. It is hoped that the flexibility afforded by the Carer’s Leave Act will contribute to improved mental health, reduced stress, and enhanced overall well-being for carers.
Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023
This legislation makes it unlawful for businesses to hold back tips from their employees, ensuring staff receive the tips they have earned without any deductions. This will provide protection to many hospitality workers who rely on tips to make up their earnings.
To comply with the new legislation, businesses must ensure that:
- Tips are allocated fairly between workers at that place of business
- Tips are paid to workers no later than the end of the month following the month in which the payment was made by the customer
- Employers have a clear written policy on dealing with tips
- A three-year record showing how tips have been dealt with is kept by employers.
Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023
With this legislation, the aim is to enhance redundancy protection for pregnant workers and working parents returning to the workplace after family related leave.
It is anticipated that existing priority status (i.e., being offered any suitable alternative employment in a redundancy situation ahead of employees who are not on maternity leave) will be extended to employees who are pregnant, have recently suffered a miscarriage, adoption leave returners, and shared parental leave returners.
Given these changes will soon be upon us, it is important that employers and HR teams familiarise themselves with these new pieces of legislation and revisit as well as rework their existing policies accordingly.