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.
Artificial Intelligence (Regulations and Workers Rights) Bill
The Artificial Intelligence (Regulation and Workers’ Rights) Bill if passed, would regulate the use of artificial intelligence technologies in the workplace and to make provision about workers’ and trade union rights in relation to the use of artificial intelligence technologies. The Bill has been scheduled for its second reading in the House of Commons for 24 November 2023.
Asylum Seekers (Permission to Work) Bill
This Bill, if passed, would enable asylum seekers who have waited six months for a decision on their asylum application, to be able to take up employment.
Bullying and Respect at Work Bill
A new Bill has been proposed that aims to address workplace bullying and promote a respectful working environment.
Carers and Care Workers Bill
This Bill would require the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to publish and implement a Carer Worker’s Employment Strategy which would be aimed at improving the recruitment and retention of care workers and establish an independent National Care Workers Council that would have responsibility for setting professional standards for care workers. It would also be responsible for establishing a system of professional qualifications and accreditation for care workers.
The Bill is due its second reading in the House of Commons on 24 November 2023.
Data Protection and Digital Information (No.2) Bill
This Bill aims to make changes to the UK General Data Protection Regulations (UK GDPR) and to introduce several significant data protection and ePrivacy reforms.
Some of the key proposed changes include:
- removing the traditional role of Data Protection Officer and to replace it with ‘Senior Responsible Individual’ (SRI)
- remove the requirement to complete a data protection impact assessment – although risks must still be identified and managed but on a risk based approach
- require only controllers or processors of data that is likely to result in high risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals, to keep and maintain records.
- the Regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office, will be replaced by the Information Commission and supported by a statutory Board, with a Chair and Chief Executive.
- remove the requirement for non-UK based controllers and processors to appoint a UK representative.
- remove the current test threshold “manifestly unfounded or excessive” when managing subject data access requests and replace with “vexatious or excessive”. Examples quoted in the Bill include requests that are intended to cause distress, not made in good faith or are an abuse of process.
Devolution (Employment) (Scotland) Bill
This Bill would amend legislation (Scotland Act 1998) that would change the legislative competence on employment matters from the UK Government to the Scottish Parliament.
Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill
The aim of this Bill is to further tackle fraud and false accounting and would require employers to demonstrate that it has put in place reasonable measures to deter this type of crime. The crime of Money Laundering will continue to be dealt with via existing regulations.
Fraud and false accounting offences are those relevant to corporations, which include fraud by false representations, fraudulent trading and cheating the public revenue.
Corporations will not need to be aware of the fraud in order to be liable, but the fraudulent act itself must have been committed for the corporation’s benefit.
If passed, the Bill will introduce Regulations that apply to those that employ more than 250 employees, have more than £36 million turnover and have more than £18 million in total assets.
Employment (Application Requirements) Bill
This Bill is aimed at introducing legislation that would regulate the use of minimum qualification or experience requirements in job applications.
Employee Share Ownership (Reform) Bill
This Bill would introduce a new share ownership scheme which would not require regular monthly contributions and so aimed at lower income and gig economy workers. It would also reduce the share incentive plan holding period from five years to three years and require companies to declare in their annual reports the type of share ownership plans they have in place and level of take up.
Employment and Trade Union Rights (Dismissal and Re-engagement)
This Bill if passed, would provide workers greater rights and protection against ‘fire and rehire’, the practice where a dismissal occurs only for the worker to be offered new employment but on lesser terms.
Fertility Treatment Bill
This Bill is about providing employees with the legal entitlement to time out of the workplace in order to attend appointments for fertility treatment.
Health and Safety Bill
This Bill would amend the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 to make provisions about civil liability for breaches of health and safety duties.
Miscarriage leave Bill
This Bill if passed, would provide employees who have experienced a miscarriage with at least three days paid leave.
Non-disclosure agreements Bill
This Bill, if passed would make provisions about the content and use of non-disclosure agreements and for connected purposes.
Paternity (Leave and Pay) Bill
This Bill would extend eligibility for paternity leave and pay, as currently, it is only available based on a person’s employment status, length of continuous service and level of earnings.
Pensions (Extension of automatic enrolment) Bill
Currently, employees must be between the age of 22 and state pension age, to be automatically enrolled into a pension scheme. This Bill if passed, would extend this, and make it eligible for those under 22 years of age to become automatically enrolled.
Public sector exit payments
This Bill would limit the amount of exit payments made to those working within the public sector.
Sunday trading – Protection for shop workers:
The right of shop workers to opt out of working Sundays on religious or family grounds is to be extended to any ‘additional’ hours above their normal hours which they may normally be obliged to work if requested. The duty of employers to advise workers of these rights is also to be extended.
Whistleblowing – Protection for children’s social care applicants
This protection will be introduced into the Employment Rights Act, section 49C which will prevent employers from discriminating against a job applicant for a children’s social care role because they have made a protected disclosure.
Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill
This Bill would make employers vicariously liable for the harassment of an employee during the course of their employment and by a third party, unless the employer has taken all reasonable steps to prevent harassment from occurring.
Workers (predictable terms and conditions) Bill
This would give workers and agency workers the right to request more predictable terms and conditions of work.
Workers (Rights and Definition) Bill
This is a Bill which would amend the definition of worker.
Working time regulations (amendment) Bill
This Bill, if introduced, would amend the working time regulations so the maximum working week would become 32 hours per week, rather than the current 48 hours.
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.
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:
- 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.
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