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2023 What’s happened so far? - UK Employment Law and HR Changes

The dynamic field of employment law and human resources is constantly evolving, and 2023 has been no exception. The UK has seen a multitude of changes and updates, ranging from statutory pay increases to new legislation on flexible working. Employers and HR professionals have had to navigate these new rules and regulations, adapting their practices to ensure compliance. This blog post will provide a comprehensive overview of the most significant changes that have occurred since the start of 2023.

A Closer Look at Statutory Pay Increases

One of the most significant developments in 2023 has been the increase in statutory pay rates. For instance, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) saw an increase from £99.35 per week to £109.40. Similarly, there were increases in Statutory Maternity, Paternity, Adoption, Shared Parental, and Parental Bereavement Pay, all of which increased from £156.66 per week to £172.48 starting from the 2nd of April. These increases reflect the government's commitment to ensuring that workers receive adequate compensation when they are unable to work due to illness or family responsibilities.

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage: The New Rates

The National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage also saw substantial increases in 2023. Specifically, the National Living Wage for those aged 23 and over increased from £9.50 to £10.42, marking a 9.7% increase. These changes underscore the government's commitment to ensuring fair wages for all workers, regardless of their age.

Redundancy Pay: What's New?

In April 2023, the weekly cap for statutory redundancy pay increased from £571 to £643. This change ensures that employees who are made redundant receive a fair and adequate compensation package, reflecting the value of their service to the company.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting: A Step Towards Equality

In a bid to promote gender equality in the workplace, the deadlines for reporting gender pay gaps were set as 30th March for most public authority employers and 4th April for private, voluntary, and all public authority employers. This initiative aims to bring wage disparities into the light and encourage employers to take proactive steps towards achieving pay equity.

An Extra Day Off: The King’s Coronation

In 2023, an extra bank holiday was added to the calendar to commemorate the King’s Coronation. This took place on Monday 8th May, providing employees with an additional day of rest and celebration.

Changes in Tips Law: A Win for Hospitality Workers

The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill, if passed, will provide enhanced protection to staff members, entitling them to keep 100% of the tips they earn. This is a significant development, particularly for those working in the hospitality and service industries where tips form a substantial part of their income.

Flexible Working Bill: A Move Towards Work-Life Balance

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill, if it becomes law, will change the statutory right to request flexible working. It will allow staff to make two flexible working requests a year and will become a day-one right. This is a significant step towards promoting work-life balance and accommodating the diverse needs of today's workforce.

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill: A Potential Game-Changer

By the end of 2023, the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill aims to abolish all EU law that is not specifically reinstated or replaced. This may affect a number of EU-derived secondary legislation, including the Working Time Regulations, Agency Worker Regulations, and TUPE. This is a significant development that could have far-reaching implications for both employers and employees.

In conclusion, 2023 has been a year of significant changes in UK employment law and HR practices. As we move forward, it's crucial for employers and HR professionals to stay abreast of these changes to ensure compliance and promote a fair and equitable workplace. By staying informed and adapting to these changes, businesses can continue to thrive and provide a positive working environment for their employees.

A Deeper Dive - Flexible Working - a day one right

The Netherlands was one of the first countries to change their employment laws to allow employees a legal right to request to work from home as an option when making a flexible working request.

This year, the laws in England and Wales may be changed to bring in the right to request flexible working from day 1 of employment (instead of the current 26-week rule). Currently there are no plans to change the law to include the right to request to work from home from day one, however an employee may still include it in their request for flexible working.

What will you as the employer do, if your employee has the legal right to request a change to their working pattern or location of work as soon as they start working with you? What can you do if the full-time employee that started work for you yesterday, requests to go part-time today? What if your new receptionist requests to work from home on day one?

As an employer you may have many concerns including:

  • You specifically advertised a full-time post due to the nature of the role and to ensure the continuity of the tasks,

  • Your employee’s key role is based on the company premises to meet and greet customers face-to-face,

  • You have bespoke tools that are shared on site.

Well, we can assure you that you do not need to panic! Employees many make a flexible working request but you do not have to automatically agree to the new arrangement.

Firstly, it is not a foregone conclusion that everyone will want to make a flexible working request on day one or wish to work from home.

However, for those staff who do put in a request, the employer is not obliged to agree to it. Only after a clear process which would involve meeting with the employee and discussing the request, can a decision be made as to whether or not the role can feasibly be achieved in a different way or at the employee’s home. If there is a negative impact on the business i.e., the employee working from home would mean that the company will lose business/customers/clients or the equipment used in their role is bespoke and shared with other colleagues, this may be grounds to refuse, or seek a compromise arrangement. The important thing, as with all flexible working requests, is that the managers making the decision carefully and fully consider the request and the impact of that request on the business before making any decision. And even then, the decision could be a temporary variation, to test how in reality the request will work for both the employee and the employer.

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