After a long period with no major changes to employment law, a raft of Private Member’s Bills have recently received Royal assent and will be coming into force over the next 12 – 24 months.
The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023
- Expected to come into force Summer 2024.
- Will allow two requests per year instead of one.
- The employee no longer has to explain the impact on the organisation or how this can be mitigated.
- Employer must respond within two months instead of three.
- Requires employers to meet / consult with employee if they can’t agree request & to consider any possible alternatives – this is already good practice and what we would always advise.
- Currently the 26 week qualifying period remains, but this is expected to change to make it a day one right by the time the Act comes into force.
- The eight statutory reasons to refuse request remain unchanged
- ACAS are currently developing a new statutory code of practice.
- It’s worth thinking ahead as this is likely to increase FWR – consider especially around recruitment and what flexibility, if any, you can offer at this stage.
- Remember – we do advise that you use the formal process even for what appears to be a simple request, otherwise you could agree a change and still then be faced with a formal FWR a couple of months later.
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023
- Currently those on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave must be offered any suitable alternative vacancy if one is available, before being made redundant.
- This Act will extend the ‘protected period’ – likely to be from the point an employee informs her employer of the pregnancy to some point (probably six months) after the return from the period of parental leave.
- Bizarrely, this Act is already in force, but further regulations are needed before employers expected to comply with it – unlikely to be before April 2024.
- Protection is also expected to be given to women who have suffered a miscarriage.
Carer’s Leave Act 2023
- Provides for one week of unpaid leave per year for those with caring responsibilities.
- Awaiting details of how this will work.
- Unlikely to come into force before April 2024.
Neonatal Care (Leave & Pay) Act 2023
- Expected to come into force from April 2025.
- Awaiting details, but likely to be up to 12 weeks leave in addition to maternity leave and to be a day one right.
- Employees with at least 26 weeks of service will also be paid at statutory rate.
The Workers (Predictable Terms And Conditions) Act 2023
- Will allow workers and employees to request a more predictable working pattern.
- Expected to be some qualifying period – possibly 26 weeks.
- Employers will only have one month to respond.
- Not expected into force for at least a year & awaiting details.
The Pensions (Extension Of Automatic Enrolment) Act 2023
- Changes to auto-enrolment to include more people.
- Likely in force next year.
- Removal of lower earnings limit.
- Age lowered to 18 from 22.
Other possible changes:
- Consultation around simplifying holiday pay – let’s all hope this comes to something and actually DOES what it sets out to do!
- Consultation around limiting non-compete clauses to a maximum of three months, and, potentially, requiring the employer to pay the employee for the period.
- Consultation around changes to TUPE and the Working Time Regs.
- The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill – we’ve mentioned this before as it was aiming to re-instate employer liability for third party harassment and place a increased duty on them to prevent sexual harassment. The third party liability has now been removed and other duties watered down but we’re awaiting final details.
And if we have a change of Government…
There are proposals to increase worker protections if Labour come into power, possibly including making it a day one right to be able to claim unfair dismissal.
This may well change, though historically the qualifying period is usually reduced to one year when we have a Labour Government.
If the day one right were to be introduced there is a suggestion that probationary periods might be recognised more formally as a ‘trial period’
– this would be a major change since they currently have no real legal standing
– watch this space
Contact us to arrange an initial, free, confidential call if you need help or support.