Employment Laws Changes Organisations Should be Aware of

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In light of the subtle shelving of the Employment Bill last year, the government has maintained its commitment to introducing a series of employment law reforms. These reforms come in various shapes and are progressing at different paces, making it challenging to stay well-informed. 

This article provides a concise overview of the multiple legislation and guidelines currently in the pipeline, along with the latest updates on their status.


Pregnancy and Family Leave Act 2023

This forthcoming employment law change substantially expands protections for pregnant employees and those re-entering the workforce after family leave. It covers employees from the moment they announce their pregnancy and extends for 18 months post-childbirth, ensuring a minimum of six months of redundancy protection for those returning from maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave.

For employers, this change necessitates focusing on extended employee protections and accommodating pregnant and returning employees. They must update policies, provide support, maintain accurate records, and ensure legal compliance. 


Leave and Pay Act 2023

This recently passed Act provides eligible employees with a vital benefit, allowing them to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave when their newborn is admitted to neonatal care. This leave is granted in addition to existing entitlements like maternity or paternity leave. With Royal Assent received on May 24, 2023, this law is set to be enforced starting in April 2025. 

This newly passed Act signifies a forthcoming change in parental leave entitlements for employers. They will need to accommodate employees who require up to 12 weeks of paid leave when their newborns are in neonatal care, in addition to existing maternity or paternity leave. 

This Act requires that employers update their policies and support affected employees. While posing a potential challenge in workforce management, it reflects a more compassionate and family-friendly work environment. 


Allocation of Tips Act 2023

The Act is a significant win for workers as it guarantees that tips, gratuities, and service charges paid by customers will be rightfully allocated to employees. Having received Royal Assent on May 2, 2023, and due to be brought into force most likely in 2024. 

This legislation underscores the commitment to fair compensation practices and ensures workers receive their share of customer-generated earnings. Reinforcing their financial security and well-being in the service industry.

For employers, this Act presents a shift in the treatment of tips and gratuities. It mandates the rightful allocation of customer payments to employees. Employers must adapt their practices to comply with the law, which enhances worker financial security and promotes fairness in compensation within the service industry.


Employment Relations (Flexible Working) bill

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) bill has received Royal Assent, meaning employees will have more flexibility over where and when they work from 2024. Workers will benefit from the new measures in the Act when the legislation comes into force, including:

  • There is a new requirement for employers to consult with employees before rejecting their flexible working request
  • Employees will be permitted to make two statutory requests in any 12-month period. At present employees can make one request 
  • Employer must respond to requests within a shorter timeframe. The current timeframe is 3 months and this will reduce to two months
  • Employees will no longer have to explain what effect, if any, the change they have applied for would have on the employer and how the employer could deal with this effect

For employers, this presents potential changes in employment rights. Once enacted employees will have  the right to request flexible working from their first day. This would bypass the current 26-week qualifying period. Employers should prepare for increased flexibility and update HR policies and practices accordingly.


Miscarriage Leave Bill 2023

The Bill proposes to implement a statutory right to three days’ paid leave for both parents who have experienced the loss of a pregnancy at any stage before 24 weeks.

If the Bill is successful, any legislation is unlikely to be introduced before mid-2024 at the earliest.

For employers, this Bill elevates the need for compassionate support during challenging times for employees. It is recommended that employers review existing policies and provide training for line managers on how to support employees. 


Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023

This was given Royal Assent in September 2023. Under this new legislation all employees, which includes those on zero-hours contracts, will have the legal right to request a predictable working pattern.

Employees will have the right to make a formal request to change their working pattern to make it more predictable of their currency work pattern lacks certainty. A lack of certainty would be in relation to their hours of work, times they work or if it is a fixed term contract for less than 12 months.

The following criteria is expected:

  • Employers will have to notify the employee of their decision within one month of the request.
  • Refusal is permitted provided it is on one of the prescribed grounds, which will be the same grounds for refusing a flexible working request.
  • Although not confirmed it is anticipated that 26 weeks’ service will be needed before a request can be made

This new legislation is expected to be introduced before September 2024. Employers should take action now to review their terms and conditions of employment to ensure that any zero hours contracts or any contracts that lack certainty are reviewed in advance of the legislation being enacted.


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