Next year, looks to be an unusually busy time for employment law updates. HR professional Liz Willett summarises the pending and developing issues that practice managers should be aware of
Changes to employee’s rights to request flexible working
A Bill is being debated in Parliament that proposes:
- The right to request flexible working from day one of employment (it’s currently 26 weeks).
- The right to make two requests in a 12-month period (as opposed to one, currently).
- Employers having to consult with their employees, as a means of exploring the available options, before rejecting a flexible working request.
- Employers being required to respond to requests within two months, down from three.
- Removal of the employee’s requirement to consider the impact on the employer and how this may be mitigated.
The Bill is largely supported by the House with Labour and the Scottish National Party (SNP) wishing to go further and create a statutory right to flexible working, rather than the right to request flexible working.
Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill
This proposes 12 weeks paid leave for employees with responsibility for children receiving neonatal care at a minimum statutory rate in addition to statutory maternity or paternity leave entitlement.
This Bill appears uncontested and is likely to be passed to take effect sometime in 2024/25.
Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill
This Proposes to extend protection from being made redundant to an employee from the moment that they declare pregnancy to six months after the end of maternity leave. It also proposes similar protection for people adopting or taking shared parental leave.
The details of the Bill and timescale for implementation are not currently clear.
Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill
This has been referred to by some leading legal commentators as ‘the most extraordinary piece of legislation tabled in a generation.’ The proposal is to repeal the whole of the UK’s retained EU law from the end of December 2023, expect for the legislation that the Government chooses to retain.
We don’t actually know what the specific impact of this legislation will be yet, this will become clearer as the Bill progresses. Still, it’s safe to say it is likely to affect every employer and employee in the country. Possible changes that have been mentioned (but not confirmed) are to:
- TUPE – when employers may harmonise terms and conditions after a transfer.
- Agency workers – removal of protections and right, potentially extending the time before such workers can claim contractual rights, or completely removing this right.
- Part–time and fixed term workers’ rights – potential changes to the rights and protections afforded under the Act that currently ensure that part-time workers enjoy the same level of terms and conditions as full-time workers.
- Working time – potential removal of the 48-hour week and changes to entitlement to holiday and breaks.
- Trade Union action – potential changes to make it more difficult for trade unions to mobilise for Strike.
To re-iterate, it’s still uncertain what will happen with this Bill particularly since it’s being opposed in Parliament and may significantly change. However, it is vital keep up to date with how it’s developing, so practice managers can start preparing for adjustments that may be needed.
Liz Willett is Head of Business Partnership at Kraft HR Consulting Ltd, which works closely with practices, federations and PCNs in the Midlands and further afield.
Read more blogs from Liz Willett here.