*This post was written in late June, 2023. For the most up-to-date information on legislative changes under RUEL please see our member-support page: https://www.cipd.org/uk/knowledge/employment-law/retained-eu-law-bill-employment-changes/
CIPD looks at UK employment law developments in July 2023
Retained EU Bill consultation period closes
On 7 July 2023, the consultation period for the Retained EU Employment Law Bill closed. The possible sunset clause that would have revoked all EU law in one go has now been scrapped, meaning that it will be more minor but still consequential changes that will become cemented into employment law on 31 December 2023. The UK Government has confirmed their intention that the bill should ‘preserve rights such as the right to maternity leave, annual leave, and protections for part-time and fixed-term workers.’
Several regulations were originally retained in 2018 as part of the withdrawal process from the EU, but are now defunct from UK Government law. The regulations that will be revoked include:
- The Posted Workers (Enforcement of Employment Rights) Regulations 2016
- The Posted Workers (Agency Workers) Regulations 2020
- The European Cooperative Society (Involvement of Employees) Regulations 2006
The three keys areas that the government consulted on included:
- Record keeping requirements under the Working Time Regulations.
- Simplifying annual leave and holiday pay calculations in the Working Time Regulations.
- Consultation requirements under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE).
As a result of the consultation, the proposed changes include:
Holiday entitlement: Under EU law, a worker’s annual leave consists of both a minimum of 4 weeks under the EU Working Time Directive and a domestic right to an additional 1.6 weeks. The new proposal is for the two types of annual leave to be combined into one statutory entitlement of 5.6 weeks.
Rolled-up holiday pay: Employers will be permitted to pay ‘rolled-up’ holiday pay, instead of the previous practice for irregular hours workers to receive an additional amount on top of their regular pay to account for paid holiday entitlement. Employers would add an additional 12.07% to a worker’s pay.
Maximum working hours: While there is no plan to remove the limit on average working hours, the proposal is to remove the requirement to maintain records showing the average time of each worker.
TUPE: Currently, under TUPE, employers are required to consult with employee representatives if employees are going to be affected by a transfer. The proposal is to allow employers to consult with employees directly for businesses with fewer than 50 employees and where the transfer affects less than 10 employees.
Labour’s proposed Bullying and Respect at Work Bill
On 11 July 2023, a bill was debated in Parliament that proposed a plan to tackle bullying in the workplace. For the first time, it would provide a legal definition of bullying at work, and protect workers from potential abuse of power. Furthermore, it would:
- enable workplace bullying claims to be considered by an employment tribunal
- provide minimum standards for a positive work environment, set out in a Respect at Work Code
- allow the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to investigate workplaces where there is evidence of bullying.
The bill is due to receive its second reading on 24 November 2023.
Using agency staff to cover strikes is ruled unlawful
Since 1976, it has been illegal for employers to introduce or supply agency workers to replace workers who are taking part in a strike or industrial action.
Since July 2022 the UK Government changed the law to allow agencies to supply temporary workers to replace striking workers. On 13 July 2023, the High Court upheld the claims of the Trades Union Congress and UNISON to rule that employers can no longer use temporary workers to cover workers who are striking.
From 10 August 2023, it is therefore again unlawful to use agency workers to cover any workers who are striking. However employers can still replace those out on strike by:
- Engaging new temporary staff directly themselves.
- Moving employees internally to cover essential jobs.
New plans to boost health in the workplace
On 20 July 2023, the Department for Work and Pensions published a consultation aimed at boosting health in the workplace.
Employers will be encouraged to take up Occupational Health offers to help employees access vital mental and physical health support at work, particularly for those working in small and medium-sized enterprises. The consultation will be closing on 12 October 2023.
Good Work Plan – proposals to support families
The UK Government has responded to the consultation on Paternity Leave and Pay legislation, with the response stating that they will amend the current legislation to make it more flexible for fathers or partners, although there are currently no dates for changes.
Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act comes into force
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 came into force on 24 July 2023. The new law will give those who are pregnant or a recent returner from parental leave priority status for redeployment opportunities in a redundancy situation.
Flexible working measures
The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill achieved Royal Assent on 20 July 2023, meaning that millions of British workers will have the right to request flexible working from day one of a new job.
- Employers will be required to consider any requests made by their employee within two months, with a maximum allowance of two requests a year.
- The previous requirement that the employee explain what effect their flexible working would have on the employer has been removed.
Working Families, CIPD and the UK government’s Flexible Working Taskforce have partnered to re-launch a ‘Happy to Talk Flexible Working’ strapline and logo, to aid employers with recruitment.
Working Families and the Taskforce have also developed new guidance for employers to help understand how all their roles can be done flexibly.
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