As an employer it’s important to know of any forthcoming employment law changes. Being aware of the changes ensures you can prepare for them and protect your business from any legal claims. Here’s a rundown of the changes taking effect from April 2023.
Payroll costs – National Minimum Wage rates
The cost of living increase continues to be a key issue for many employers who are facing pressure to increase wages.
Whilst there is no legal requirement to increase pay to address issues with high inflation rates, the National Minimum Wage/living rates are going up on 1 April 2023, therefore if your pay is based on minimum wage rates, you will need to implement these changes:
|Up to 31/3/2023
|23 and over
|21 or 22
|18 – 20
|Apprentices under 19 (or over 19 but in year 1 of apprenticeship)
Statutory pay rates
Family friendly leave
From 3 April 2023 Statutory Maternity, Adoption, Paternity, Shared Parental and Parental Bereavement pay will increase to £172.48 per week.
Statutory Sick pay
On 3 April 2023 Statutory Sick Pay will increase to £109.40 per week.
Statutory redundancy payments
With effect from 6th April 2023, the statutory redundancy pay cap increases to £643 per week, therefore for anyone who leaves due to redundancy on or after this date, you will need to calculate their redundancy pay on this new rate. If the redundant employee’s normal weekly rate is under this figure, you should calculate their redundancy compensation based on their actual weekly pay rate.
Bank holidays – The King’s Coronation
In 2023 there will be an additional Bank Holiday to celebrate the King’s Coronation, on Monday 8th May 2023. This is in addition to the usual May Day Bank Holiday on 1st May, and the Spring Bank Holiday on Monday 29th May 2023.
An employee’s individual contract of employment will dictate whether they are entitled to take this additional day off and how this day’s leave will be treated. Employers should check the wording in their employees’ contracts, and communicate clearly to employees if they are expected to work on the additional bank holiday, and / or if they need to take it from their annual leave entitlement.
Upcoming changes to be confirmed
2023 is potentially going to be a busy year for changes in employment law, with lots of Bills under consideration. This is a summary of what may be in the pipeline. There are no firm dates for implementation, but in the meantime it pays to be ahead of the changes and consider how they may affect you and your business in advance of the bills being passed in to law.
Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill
During her brief time as Conservative Prime Minister, Liz Truss expressed the Party’s commitment to change Working Time Regulations’ rules on taking breaks, limiting the 48-hour working week and calculating holiday pay. In addition, the government introduced the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill which, if passed unamended, will remove all UK laws containing EU law by the end of 2023. In addition it will give the government powers to repeal or replace those laws without Parliamentary scrutiny. As well as the working time rules, the TUPE and the agency workers regulations may be at the top of a possible list for reform, due the fact that these laws derive directly from EU regulations.
Conservative proposals for restricting the effect of industrial action were outlined by the the previous Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps in July 2022. Consequently, some anti-strike measures are already passing or have passed into law, such as the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill and Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2022 which allow organisations to use agency workers to cover striking workers.
However, the Regulatory Policy Committee have stated the Strikes Bill is ‘not fit for purpose’ and subsequently have suggested another impact assessment is needed. In addition, the TUC has mounted a legal challenge to the agency worker rule change, which is due to be heard in March 2023.
The Carer’s Leave Bill
The Carer’s Leave Bill will give carers one week’s unpaid leave a year to care for a dependant with a long-term care need that is:
- likely to last more than three months;
- is a disability under the Equality Act 2010; and/or
- connected to old age.
This will be a day one right for employees.
Many organisations already support carers and have policies in place, however this will involve changes to flexible working policies and practices, therefore communicating any changes relating to flexible working requests and requests for carer leave to managers will be very important, to ensure any speculative enquiries are dealt with appropriately.
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill
This bill extends the right to be redeployed during pregnancy (including miscarriage), maternity and family leave for 18 months after the start of that leave. These are important considerations that will have to be managed during an employee’s family/maternity leave and in restructuring or redundancy exercises.
Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill will allow parents whose babies need hospital neonatal care to take 12 weeks’ paid leave in addition to their statutory maternity or paternity leave. The right will:
- be available from day one of employment;
- apply to parents with babies who are admitted to hospital before they are 28 days old;
- apply to babies who need to stay in hospital for 7 days continuously or more.
Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill
This bill will make it unlawful for employers to withhold tips from staff. A new statutory Code of Practice on how tips should be distributed will be developed, and in addition workers will gain a new right to request information on an employer’s tipping record to help them to bring a tribunal claim under the new rules.
Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill
This new legislation would:
- make flexible working requests a day one right for employees (thereby removing the current 26 weeks’ service requirement)
- allow employees to make two requests a year (currently only one request is possible)
- require employers to consult with the employee, before rejecting a request
- shorten the time employers have to reply to a request from three to two months
- remove the requirement for employees to set out the likely effects on the business of the change.
Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill
This bill will give all employees and workers (including agency and zero hours workers) the right to formally request a more stable working pattern and will be available to those who:
- have worked for the employer for 26 weeks (not necessarily continuously)
- are on work patterns that lack certainty in the hours and time they work
- are on fixed term contracts under 12 months’ in duration.
Workers will be able to make two requests a year, however employers will be able to refuse requests on specific grounds, e.g. due to the additional costs involved or a lack of work at the times requested. This reform is intended to rectify one-sided flexibility favouring employers to the detriment of workers.
Office of the Whistleblower
A Bill on whistleblowing could, if passed, repeal the current framework in the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 and introduce broader protection with a bigger range of penalties. The bill involves the creation of a new body, potentially called the Office of the Whistleblower, which would be given investigation powers and have the authority to order redress.
Auto-Enrolment Pension Changes
There is an Automatic Enrolment Private Members Bill moving through Parliament which looks set to bring in changes to the Automatic Enrolment populations and employers who use Qualifying Earnings to calculate contributions:
- Lowering the age criteria for auto-enrolment from 22 to 18 years of age
- Removing the Lower Earnings Limit of £6,240 if you’re using qualifying earnings
Predictions are that this particular change will come in to effect either in April 2024, or at the earliest in October 2023.
The government is also backing the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill currently passing through Parliament, which would cover the following:
- reintroducing employers’ liability for the harassment of their staff by third-parties (whether they are customers, clients, or suppliers). This liability was previously removed in 2013;
- requiring employers to proactively prevent the sexual harassment of their staff;
- allowing for a 25% uplift in any award in a successful sexual harassment tribunal claim where the employer failed to prevent the harassment occurring.
If you’re concerned about what these employment law changes mean for your business and need help in preparing for them, please get in touch with Helpful HR.