January 3, 2023

What’s occurring? Key employment law changes in 2023

Posted in Employment
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2022 was a challenging year for many organisations - employers grappled with changes to COVID-19 testing and self-isolation, shifting trends towards hybrid working and political and financial uncertainty. Additionally, the war for talent continued making recruitment and retention difficult, with many businesses struggling to keep up with the pay and benefits offered by their competitors.

In this update, we look at some of the biggest changes your business can expect in 2023 and what to keep on your radar.

Brexit

One of the greatest unknowns for 2023 is the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, which aims to abolish all EU law that is not reinstated or replaced by 31 December 2023. Any EU legislation that is retained by the Government will be known as assimilated law until it has been incorporated into UK law and will remain in force by no later than 23 June 2026.

This bill could have significant repercussions as there are thousands of EU laws and regulations which will need to be reviewed by the end of the year. It could also give the Government an opportunity to reform areas such as the Working Time Regulations, holiday pay and TUPE. We therefore encourage all businesses to keep themselves updated on developments about the passage of this bill through Parliament.  We will continue with updates on this area once more is known.

Flexible Working

The Government has published proposals to update the laws surrounding flexible working. Changes include making flexible working a day one right for employees, consulting with employees about alternatives to their flexible working request, permitting two requests in a 12-month period and requiring employers to respond to flexible working requests within two months.

There is currently no set timeframe for implementation, but the Government is supporting a Private Members’ bill, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill, which has passed its second reading and will likely become law in due course.

Changes to the flexible working regime have been on the horizon for many years now, so hopefully 2023 will be the year that we see the long-awaited reforms actually come in to force.

Carer’s Leave

The Government is supporting a Private Members’ Bill for Carer’s Leave, which would introduce a statutory day one right for employees with caring responsibilities. If enacted, eligible employees would have up to five days of unpaid leave per year to care for a dependant, which would include partners, children and parents, including those living at the employee’s household.

The bill is set to undergo its third reading in Parliament next month, although if approved, there is no set timeframe for implementation.

Neonatal Care

Another Private Member’s Bill which the Government is supporting is the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill. If enacted, it would provide 12 weeks of statutory leave and pay for eligible employees who have their children admitted to hospital for neonatal care for at least seven days. It is intended to support parents with their premature or sick baby.

The Bill is due to have its report stage and third reading next month.

Redundancy Protection for Pregnancy and Family Leave

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill, a further Private Member’s Bill, has received Government support, which means that it will hopefully become law at some point. Under current law, there is a priority right for employees on statutory maternity, adoption or shared parental leave to be offered suitable alternative employment (where it exists). The bill proposes to extend this priority right of being offered alternative employment to pregnant employees (once they have informed their employer of pregnancy) up to 18 months after statutory leave started (so for those that take the maximum 52 weeks leave, they will have an additional 6 months protection).

The bill had its first and second readings in Parliament last year, with the Public Bill Committee meeting due on 3 February 2023 to discuss next steps.

Bank holiday for the King’s Coronation

In addition to the usual eight bank holidays in England this year, there will be an additional bank holiday on Monday 8 May 2023 to celebrate the King’s Coronation.

There is no statutory entitlement for staff to have this additional bank holiday off work; it is a matter for the employment contract. You should therefore check your contracts as soon as possible.

Where there is no contractual right to time off, you can of course offer staff the day off as a gesture of goodwill. However, this may not be feasible if staffing levels are tight.

If staff are required to work on the additional bank holiday, they should be paid the rate specified in their employment contract for bank holidays. If you offer enhanced rates for bank holidays, check whether your contract limits this to the usual eight bank holidays (in which case you could choose to pay normal pay for this additional bank holiday) or whether it covers any bank holiday (in which case you will need to pay the enhancement).

Increased statutory pay rates

The Government has confirmed that statutory pay for maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave will increase to £172.48 per week from 2 April 2023. The rate of statutory sick pay will also increase to £109.40 per week.

In addition, minimum wage will increase from 1 April 2023:

  • For workers aged 23 and over, £10.42 per hour.
  • For workers aged 21 to 22, £10.18 per hour.
  • For workers aged 18 to 20, £7.49 per hour.
  • For workers aged 16 to 17, £5.28 per hour.

The apprentice rate will also increase to £5.28 per hour.

How we can help

2023 is likely to be a busy year, with several issues likely to crop up.  With the country in recession, redundancy and restructuring within many businesses is also inevitable. We have extensive experience in advising businesses on a host of employment issues. We can help you review and implement appropriate practices to manage your risks, as well as advise you on any employment law or HR matter…

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