Employment Law Trends in 2023: Changes in the World of Work

January 17, 2023

As recent years have proved, the employment law landscape is continuously evolving. From the rise of remote working, to the launch of the IR35, we’ve been witness to many shifts in the working world. And, 2023 is going to be no different. In this article, we take a look at just some of the big changes that lie ahead in the year to come.  

So, let’s kick things off...  

Brexit set to potentially impact worker’s rights

Back in September 2022 the UK government published its Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill in the House of Commons. This Bill has created a presumption that all EU-derived laws will be removed from domestic law at the end of 2023, unless specifically saved.

If passed, it seems unlikely that the bill will result in a wholesale removal of EU-derived employment rights, but it is possible that it will result in a downgrade of workers’ rights. The kinds of laws that we could see affected are working time and paid holiday, TUPE (although we’re not sure many people would be sad to see TUPE amended), part-time and fixed-term workers’ rights, and agency worker’s rights.  

The uncertainty around this means that employers would do well to keep an eye out this year for announcements about employment rights derived from EU law. For all we currently know, there could be a sudden and drastic upheaval of employment law, no change at all, or something in between! Watch this space.

Menopause in the workplace

In 2022, the UK government responded to a report commissioned by the Minister for Employment about menopause and employment. In its response, the government stated that it does not believe that there are any changes needed to the Equality Act 2010 to further protect people going through the menopause at work. Essentially, the government has concluded that the existing protections under the Equality Act provide adequate protection against unlawful treatment.  

However, the Women and Equalities Committee has published a separate report on menopause in the workplace and has taken a different stance to that taken by the government. Two of the Committee’s key recommendations are:  

  • (1) for the government to enact section 14 of the Equality Act which protects against multiple discriminations (i.e., discrimination related to a combination of two protected characteristics); and  
  • (2) to add a new protected characteristic under the Equality Act to give specific protection related to menopause (including a duty to make reasonable adjustments for employees experiencing menopause).  

The government has not yet responded to the Committee’s report.While these reports, and the government’s response, don’t tell us much about what will happen regarding menopause in the workplace, it is clearly a topic that has got people talking, so employers should take care to ensure they are supporting employees experiencing the menopause and keep an eye out for possible future changes to the Equality Act.

Changes coming to flexible working rights, protection from redundancy, and worker protections

The Government has recently announced support for a number of Private Member’s Bills (basically proposed new laws introduced by MPs and Lords who are not government ministers). This is not a guarantee that the Bills will pass but does increase the likelihood of the proposals coming into force this year (or next). The Bills that have received support include:

  • Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill: this includes the introduction of employer liability for harassment of employees by third parties, and a new proactive duty to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace (with a potential 25% uplift to tribunal awards for breach).
  • Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill: this bill is set to impact the right to request flexible working, to allow two requests per 12 months (it is currently sat at one). This bill will also require employers to consult with employees before refusing their flexible working request, to make decisions within two rather than three months, and to remove the requirement that the employee must explain in the statutory request what effect the change would have on the employer and how that might be dealt with.
  • Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill: The Bill will extend the redundancy protection requiring employers to offer suitable alternative vacancies to an employee on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave to cover periods during or after pregnancy (including after early miscarriage) or after maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.
  • Carer’s Leave Bill: a ‘day one’ right for those with certain caring responsibilities to unpaid leave of one week per year, which can be taken in half or individual days and will not require evidence of entitlement.

The fact that these Bills have received support does not mean they will definitely become law but can give an idea of the way the wind is blowing when it comes to employment law changes.  

Changes to Statutory Payments

And finally, changes to statutory payments are on the horizon. The increases to statutory rates will be:

  • National Minimum Wage: £10.42 an hour from 1 April 2023
  • Statutory sick pay: £109.40 a week from 6 April 2023
  • Statutory family leave: £172.48 a week from 2 April 2023

Support navigating 2023 employment law changes

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