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Employment Bills – A-Z for employers

There are several Bills which are likely to impact employers over the coming months. Here we provide an A-Z guide on each of the Bills to help you to easily navigate the changes which may impact your organisation. If you require support with updating your company handbook and policies, our expert team can provide ongoing support, or assist with one-off projects. Contact us to find out more.

Carer’s Leave Bill

This Bill would give employees who are unpaid carers the statutory right to take up to one week (5 working days) of unpaid leave per year. It is expected, although legislation is yet to be drafted, is that it will be a day one right for those with employee status (not worker status) and that the person they care for will broadly need to meet the definition of a dependant as per the right to time off for dependants.

The person cared for would need to have a long-term care need such as one that is long-term physical or mental, or an injury or disability, or issues related to old age.

The Bill is at the Committee Stage of the House of Lords, after which, there will be a report stage and a final reading, before seeking agreement across both houses for it to then be put forward to receive Royal Assent and become law.

The current Bill sets out the following proposed entitlements:

  • It would entitle an employee to be absent from work (unpaid) in order to provide or arrange care of a dependant who has a long-term care need
  • The definition of dependant is someone who could be a spouse/civil partner, someone who lives in the same household as the employee, or someone who reasonably relies upon the employee to provide or arrange the care
  • The long-term care, is defined within the Bill is that the person has:
    “an illness or injury (physical or mental) that requires, or is likely to require care for more than three months
  • They have a disability for the purpose of the Equality Act
  • They require care for a reason connected with their old age”
  • The entitlement to leave is for at least a week during any period of 12 months ( a week to be determined by reference to the number of days normally worked in a particular period. So, if someone works 3 days, their entitlement would be 3 days)
  • An employer cannot require an employee to provide evidence in a relation to a request for leave before granting the absence.

We don’t know when this Bill will get passed and become law, and it is still subject to further amendments as part of the parliamentary process.

Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill

This Bill is to enable workers to receive tips, gratuities and service charges paid by customers that are earned in full, meaning that an employer would be required to pass on all tips without deduction. If passed, it would also require an employer to have a written policy where tips are awarded on more than an occasional and exceptional basis. It is also expected that a Code of Practice would be published.

This Bill is at the final stage before being passed for Royal Assent, so it is expected that this Bill will also become law later this year.

Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill

Following a consultation, the Government confirmed its commitment to the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill that would amend current laws around flexible working rights. The Bill was introduced last year and is now awaiting its second reading in the House of Lords, which takes place 19 May 2023.

We do expect to see this passed as law later in 2023, and these are the changes to flexible working rights we can expect to see.
Other developments in flexible working include:

  • The requirement to have 26 weeks continuous service to make a request will be abolished, instead, it will become a day 1 employment right
  • There will be a new requirement for employers to consult with their employees when intending to decline the request
  • The rule of allowing employees to only make one request in a 12-month period will be abolished and instead, employees will be able to make two.
  • The time limit in which to fully respond to an employee’s request, including the time taken to hear an appeal, will be reduced from 3 to 2 months.
  • Employees will no longer be required to detail the effects of their proposed change on the employer and ways in which they can be dealt with

Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill

Neonatal care is the type of care a baby receives in a neonatal unit if they are born premature, sick, or with a low birth weight. This Bill proposes to introduce new employment leave and pay rights for employees of parents of babies that are admitted into hospital as a neonate (28 days old or less).
The Bill, which had its second reading in the House of Lords in March, is due to reach the Committee Stage soon – a date is yet to be announced. This Committee Stage is where a detailed line by line examination of the Bill will take place, with votes taking place on any amendments before ultimately, the Bill having to be agreed upon.

The current version of the Bill states:

  • Neonatal care is of a medical or palliative kind (which would be specified in the Regulations) and would apply to those with a parental or other personal relationship with a child receiving or who has received neonatal care.
  • All employees would be entitled to the statutory leave from day one of employment, whereas to be entitled to statutory neonatal pay, the employee must have at least 26 weeks of service and be in receipt of earnings that are at least the current lower earnings limit (currently £123 per week)
  • Leave entitlement would start from the day after the child’s birth but before the end of a period of 28 days (i.e. new-borns up to the age of 28 days)
  • The care must continue without interruption for at least 7 days, which begin the day after the day the care starts but is capped at 12 weeks
  • The leave and pay to be taken within at least a 68-week window which begins with the child’s date of birth

Given the Bill is still progressing through the House of Lords, it continues to remain subject to review and so we do will not know what the final statutory position will be until it has had its third reading.

Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill

This Bill if introduced would extend existing legislation that provides employees on maternity leave to greater employment rights in a redundancy situation to any other employee.

At present, the employee that is being made redundant has a legal entitlement to be offered any suitable alternative role that is not substantially worse than the role that they are being made redundant from. This entitlement is only in place during a period of maternity leave. What this new Bill would do, is to extend this right so that it begins from when the mother informs their employer of their pregnancy and continue for 18 months from the date maternity leave starts.

This is another employment Bill we can expect to see come into force later this year as it is currently at the final stage before receiving Royal Assent.

Retained EU Law (Reform and Revocation) Bill

This is a Bill that proposes a new UK law to repeal the European Communities Act 1972, which is allowing EU law to continue to operate in the UK. Through the signing of the 2018 European Union (Withdrawal) Act, it has meant that since 2020, the UK has had legal authority to retain UK legislation underpinned by European legislation and case law.

The Retained EU Law (Reform and Revocation) Bill would end the authority of EU law in the UK and give the UK Parliament the power to amend, repeal or revoke EU laws (including European case law). Follow the updates on the Retained EU Law (Reform and Revocation) Bill on our dedicated hub here.

The Social Housing (Regulation) Bill

This Bill was introduced on the back of the 2020 Social Housing White Paper and to address concerns raised after the tragic Grenfell Tower fire of 2017. The Bill aims to introduce transformational change to those living in social housing to empower them, provide greater redress, ensure better regulation and to improve the quality of social housing. The Bill will do this by making provisions about the regulation of social housing and the terms of approved schemes for the investigation of housing complaints.

The Bill itself has already been passed through the House of Commons and House of Lords and is in its final stages before being put forward to be given Royal Assent, to become law.

Various amendments have been made to the Bill throughout each of the parliamentary stages, but the one relevant to employment is the amendment that would require all social housing managers to have a professional qualification. However, until legislation has been passed and guidance published, nothing is confirmed nor is it clear on how these new measures would work in practice.

Further guidance is expected from the Government, once the Bill has become law, and from there, it will become clear as to how employment practices such as recruitment, training, and performance management for instance, may be impacted and therefore what policies and new practices may need to be introduced by employers.

Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill

This Bill, if passed, would mandate employees, working in 6 sectors, which includes health, education, and transport, to provide a minimum level of service when there is strike action. The exact detail of what the minimum service level would be, are not yet defined, but would be set out later and will be part of the regulations.

is thought that it would work for an employer to be able to reasonably identify the staff that would be required to work during days when strike action is to take place so that they can ensure a certain level of service can still be delivered.

This Bill is currently at in the House of Lord’s where amendments are due to be considered and is near to the end of the parliamentary process before being passed for being given Royal Assent. It is likely that this could become law later this year, although the Government have stated that there must be a minimum 3-month gap between the regulations being made and when they come into force.

Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill

This is a Bill which would provide workers, the right to request more predictable terms and conditions of work. It is in its final stages at the House of Lords and could potentially become law in 2023. In its current form, the Bill states that a worker may apply to their employer for a change in terms and conditions of employment if there is a lack of predictability in respect of their work pattern. The Bill defines ‘work pattern’ to be either the number of hours worked, the days of the week in which the hours are worked and the times on those days they are expected to work.

The Bill also suggests that a worker can only make an application for more predictable terms and conditions if they were employed by the employer at some point during the month immediately preceding the making of the application.

For the employer, as it stands, the Bill indicates that the application must be dealt with in a reasonable manner and would only be able to reject it for one of the recognised reasons stated within the legislation. The reasons set out are the same as those that are currently used when managing Flexible Working Requests such as if there was to be a burden of additional costs, or it would have a detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demands etc.

Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill

This Bill would amend the parts of the Equality Act 2010 that deal with harassment. Specifically, if passed, it would place a legal duty on employers to prevent the sexual harassment of its employees, and place liability on employers for harassment of its employees by third parties.

Although this Bill is currently at the House of Lords near to its final stages, there have been reports that the introduction of protection from harassment from 3rd parties may not go ahead, although this hasn’t been confirmed.

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