In this update we will look at recent employment law changes as well as several changes that are likely to be implemented this year:
National Minimum Wage
Increases were announced on 17 November 2022 and will come into force on 1 April 2023. The rates are as follows:
• Workers aged 23+: £10.42 an hour (National Living Wage)
• Workers aged 21-22: £10.18 an hour
• Development rate for workers aged 18-20: £7.49 an hour
• Young workers rate for workers aged 16-17: £5.28 an hour
• Apprentice rate: £5.28 an hour
Statutory Sick Pay
Increases will come into force on 2 April 2023 rising from £99.35 to £109.40 per week.
Statutory maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental pay rises
Increases will come into force on 2 April 2023 rising from £156.66 to £172.48 per week.
These additional rates may concern you in light of all other rising costs. You can talk to us about other ways in which you can reduce spend, it doesn’t have to mean losing staff, there are other ways of cutting costs without changing your headcount.
Ban on exclusivity clauses – From 5 December 2022 regulations come into force extending the ban on exclusivity clauses in zero-hour contracts to those on or below the lower earnings limit (£123 per week for the 2022-2023 tax year). Exclusivity clauses are standard clauses within contracts of employment which prevent employees from working for another employer. What this now means is that employers will no longer be able to insert exclusivity clauses in contracts where the employee will be earning the lower earnings limit and they will therefore be free to apply for second jobs. If you don’t want this to be the case for your staff then you just need to reassess the terms of the contract that you are offering.
Flexible working – In December 2022 the government published its long-awaited response to its consultation on flexible working. We don’t know when the changes will be implemented (we’ll update you on that) however for now the main changes to note are:
• The right to request flexible working will become a day one right. Currently there is a requirement that employees must have 26 weeks’ service before making a request. It must be noted that this is simply the right to request flexible working and not the right to be automatically eligible for flexible working and the current list of business reasons for refusal of a request will not change.
• Employers should consult with employees to explore alternative options before refusing a flexible working request.
• Employees will be able to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period. Currently employees can only make one request.
• Employers will be required to respond to the request within 2 months to replace the current timeframe of 3 months.
• Employees will no longer be required to explain what impact of the change in their working pattern will have on their employer and how this may be dealt with.
Carer’s Leave Bill – Once passed, this Bill will introduce a new entitlement of one week’s unpaid leave per year for employees to care for a dependant with a long-term care need.
Protection from sexual harassment – Once passed, this Bill (Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill) will obligate employers to take all reasonable steps to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. In sexual harassment claims the tribunals will be able to uplift awards by up to 25% in cases where the employer failed to prevent the harassment from occurring. The bill will also reintroduce employers’ liability for harassment of their staff by third parties such as suppliers, customers etc which was previously removed in 2013. Why not get ahead of this and book some training for your staff. A policy on sexual harassment is not going to be sufficient to demonstrate to a Tribunal that you have taken all reasonable steps.
Protection from redundancy – Based on current legislation an employee on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave must be offered a suitable alternative vacancy by their employer (and are prioritised over others) if they are selected for redundancy. This requirement however only applies for the duration of the leave. Once passed, the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill will extend the employer’s obligation in cases of redundancy from when an employee notifies their employer that they are pregnant (or notifies their employer that they will be taking adoption leave as the primary care giver to their expected child or shared parental leave) and for a six-month period after returning to work.
If you have any questions about any of the legislative changes discussed in this article and how your business should implement these changes then please contact our Employment team for support.