employment law blocks

2023 could potentially see a variety of changes to UK employment law. Below are some of the legislation changes that are pending. I will update you when/if they are made official.

Flexible working to become a ‘day one’ right

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill 2022-23 is a private member’s bill to amend the existing statutory regime for flexible working requests. It was published on 21 October 2022 and has now gained government backing.

The changes would include:

  • making the right to request flexible working a “day one” right (there is currently a 26-week service requirement);
  • allowing employees to make two requests in any 12-month period (rather than the current one request);
  • reducing the decision period within which employers are required to respond to a request from three months to two months;
  • introducing a requirement for employers to consult with an employee before rejecting their request; and
  • removing the requirement that an employee must explain what effect the change would have on their employer and how that might be addressed.

Sexual harassment at work 

  • Another long-anticipated reform is to the existing law on harassment. It was introduced to parliament via a private member’s bill on 15 June 2022 and makes provision in relation to the duties of employers and the protection of workers under the Equality Act 2010. It has since received government support.
  • The Workers Protection Bill introduces a new duty on employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and reinstates employer liability for third party harassment. If the bill is passed in its current form, an employee would be able to bring a third-party harassment claim against their employer after a single incident of harassment by, for example, a client or customer.
  • Even if the bill completes the parliamentary process in 2023, it will not come into force until 2024 at the earliest.

Carer’s leave

  • In September 2021, the government confirmed that it would introduce a new right to one week of leave per year for unpaid carers.
  • A private member’s bill makes provision for employees to take one week’s unpaid leave each year for the purpose of caring for a dependant with a long-term care need. The right would apply from day one of employment.
  • The bill has government backing but there is no timetable for implementation

Neonatal leave and pay 

  • Changes are planned to introduce a right to paid leave for eligible employees with a child who is receiving, or has received, neonatal care.
  • Parents will have a right to neonatal care leave of at least one week and up to a maximum of 12 weeks regardless of length of service, and parents with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service will have a right to receive neonatal care pay at a prescribed statutory rate.
  • Employees taking neonatal care leave will have the same employment protections as those associated with other forms of family related leave.
  • The bill passed its second reading in parliament in July but there is no known timetable for implementation.

Enhanced redundancy protection for pregnancy and maternity

  • Currently, women on maternity leave have special protection in a redundancy situation and must be offered a suitable alternative vacancy where one is available in priority over other employees at risk of redundancy.
  • The government is backing the Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination Bill, which proposes to introduce regulations to extend this protection to employees during their pregnancy and after they return to work from maternity leave. The length of the protected period is not specified in the bill.
  • It has not been confirmed when the enhanced protection will come into force.
If you require further information about anything covered in this blog, please get in touch with me on 0147 853 856 or email donna.bygrave@a4g-llp.co.uk.