Recap of Key Changes to Employment Law
There's been a lot of emergency employment legislation introduced to tackle the challenges of COVID-19, so now the Government is focusing on significant changes in employment legislation. So in our true fashion, we wanted to keep you up-to-speed with the key changes in employment legislation which you need to know about:
1) Using Agency Staff to Cover Strike Action is Now Unlawful
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.
2) Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023
When the UK left the EU in 2018, there has been a period of time whereby legislation was passed which meant that the UK could continue operating in line with the EU legislation whilst in transition. On 7 July 2023, the consultation for the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform Bill) closed. Within this, there is a clause that sets a date by which the UK would no longer be bound by European based legislation. This date is 31 December 2023, although there is scope to extend this for specified legislation until 23rd June 2026. The UK Government has confirmed that there are certain rights that they will preserve under this, such as, the right to maternity leave and protections for part-time and fixed-term workers. Some of the other areas that the new legislation will cover include:
Holiday Entitlement - Under EU law, it's split between 4 weeks under EU Working Time Directive and a domestic right to and 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. Rolled up holiday pay is where workers are paid a higher basic pay rate to include holiday pay entitlement. They do not receive holiday pay if they then choose to take a holiday.
Maximum working hours (record keeping) - 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.
3) The Employee Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 –
You'll be familiar with our current legislation relating to employees having the ability to make a flexible working request annually. The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 received Royal Assent on 20 July 2023. The Act, which is expected to come into force in Summer 2024, introduces the following changes:
Employees will be able to make 2 requests in a 12-month period (although they will not be able to make a second request whilst the first is outstanding.
Employees will no longer have to explain in a written request the impact of their request on their employer (with the aim of making requesting flexible working easier and more accessible).
The timeframe for an employer to respond to a request will be reduced from 3 months to 2 months.
Whilst the 8 statutory reasons for rejecting a request remain unchanged, employers will need to ‘consult’ with an employee before rejecting their request (there are no details of what that ‘consultation’ needs to include).
Separate legislation will also make a flexible working request a Day one right. We hope that you have found our update useful.
For our existing HR Pulse clients, you'll be kept informed of any updates to HR Pulse to reflect any changes in employment legislation. If you're not already one of our lovely HR Pulse clients http://hrpulse.co.uk, please feel free to contact us on email@example.com for further advice.
We'll be very happy to help you!