2023 is set to be a landmark year for employment law, with a number of important updates in the pipeline.
From enhanced flexible working rights to carer’s leave, many changes are expected to be introduced by the end of the year.
In December 2022, the government responded to the Making Flexible Working The Default consultation by confirming its intention to introduce changes to the right to request flexible working legislation.
Previously, an employee needed to have worked for 26 weeks before being able to make a statutory flexible working request. Under the new proposals, flexible working requests will be a day-one right for all employees.
The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill will also grant employees with two flexible working requests in any 12-month period and require employers to respond to requests within two months.
The bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons in February and is expected to become law later this year.
The Carer’s Leave Bill is designed to introduce the right for up to five days of unpaid leave for employees with long-term caring responsibilities. The right to request this leave will be from day one of employment.
The leave will be for anyone with caring responsibilities for dependents including partners, children, parents, and people living in the same household as the employee who relies on the employee for caring purposes.
The leave can be taken flexibly as either partial or full days to fit around their caring responsibilities. The employer will need to give notice to their employer of at least twice the length of the leave requested.
The Carer’s Leave Bill has passed its third reading in the House of Commons and now sits with the House of Lords where it is expected it will be signed off and implemented in 2023.
In 2022, the landmark Harper Trust v Brazel Supreme Court case found that holiday pay for workers who only work certain weeks of the year should be calculated based on their earnings during the weeks they worked, and excluding weeks they did not.
In response, the government issued a consultation paper earlier this year which closed in March. We are still waiting for the conclusions of the consultation, but we can expect the government to seek to close the loophole and introduce a holiday entitlement reference period for part-year and irregular-hours workers that ensures holiday pay is directly proportional to the time spent working.
Britain’s departure from the EU is still having an impact on employment law, and this year’s Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill is perhaps the most significant development yet.
Designed to speed up the removal of retained EU laws, the bill gives ministers powers to scrap and replace them. It also includes a clause that means that at the end of 2023, many retained EU laws will automatically disappear unless they are otherwise replaced.
Employment laws that will be affected by the bill include TUPE, Working Time Regulations, Agency Workers Regulations, Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations among others.
It is likely that we will see a flurry of new legislation to replace, and potentially scale back, the outgoing EU regulations. There is the scope to extend this process to June 2026, which could reduce what will otherwise be a large and widespread impact.
With so many changes set to alter the relationship between employees and employers, it can be difficult to know your responsibilities and obligations.