Employment law updates: Pensions auto enrolment, worker protection bill and TUC action on Strikes Act

CIPD looks at UK employment law developments in September 2023

On 18 September, two acts received Royal Assent: 

Pensions (Extension of Automatic Enrolment) (No. 2) Bill  

This act extends pensions automatic enrolment to younger jobholders (from age 18 to 22) and removes the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) from the qualifying earnings band.  

The extra four years of pension saving will boost the number of people enrolled into a workplace pension and will enable savings from the first pound of earnings, thereby increasing some pension pots. 

The commencement date and details are likely to be set out later this year. A phased implementation plan is expected, possibly over two to three years to enable employers and employees to adapt to the increased contributions.  

Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill  

This act gives all workers on atypical contracts, such as zero-hours contracts and temporary workers, the legal right to request more predictable working hours.  

Employers must respond to the employee’s application within one month and can reject requests for specific reasons, for example detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand or other aspects of the business.  

The act is expected to come into force a year after Royal Assent, to allow employers time to prepare. 

Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill 

The act, which had its third reading in the House of Lords this month, has been amended to remove the reinstatement of express third-party harassment provisions. 

Provisions to reintroduce employer liability for harassment by third parties (unless all reasonable steps had been taken to prevent it) have been removed again. However, other legal provisions (including breach of contract, tort, discrimination, and harassment) mean employers may still face liability under pre-existing law. 

The proposed duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment is retained, though the requirement to take “all reasonable steps” to prevent sexual harassment has been reduced to only require “reasonable steps” which is a lower threshold for employers to meet, but even a one-off act will be sufficient for liability to ensue. 

The Bill will now return to the Commons for consideration of amendments. 

Industrial action and Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023 

The TUC has reported the UK Government to the International Labour Organization (ILO) – the UN workers’ rights watchdog – over the Strikes Act. The act specifies minimum service levels for various public services during industrial action.  

Flexible working 

The Employment Relations (Flexible working) Act 2023, which recently received Royal Assent, allows employees to make flexible working requests from day one of their employment. Read Carl Quilliam’s latest CIPD thought leadership article for more on what these changes herald for UK workers. 

Explore our resources on these subjects: 

Bullying and harassment topic page 

Factsheet – Workplace pensions 

Trade union recognition and industrial action: UK employment law 

Keep up to date with the latest developments on our timetable of recent and forthcoming legislation.  




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