From as soon as 1 January 2024, the UK Government is implementing a wide range of new employment law that will affect organizations with UK operations. Below is a handy table summarizing key changes and start dates.
Some critical issues for employers include: (i) stronger workplace protections against sexual harassment; (ii) increased employee flexible working rights; (iii) new holiday pay rules; (iv) new employee rights to request predictable working terms; (v) rights for agency workers to request jobs at client companies; and (vi) changes to TUPE.
|Name of new legislation
|What will change?
|When will it happen?
|The Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023 (Draft Statutory Instrument)
| – This will introduce “rolled-up” holiday pay and a new annual leave accrual method for irregular hours and part-year workers.
– The Regulations also retain EU law that allowed workers to carry-over annual leave when they are unable to take such leave due to being on statutory leave or sick leave and will introduce a method of accrual of annual leave for irregular workers and part-year workers that have been on statutory leave or sick leave.
– The Regulations will also introduce a change to TUPE, such that businesses with less than 50 employees will be able to consult directly with employees, if there are no employee representatives in place; for transfers of 10 employees or less, businesses of any size will be able to consult directly with employees, if there are no employee representatives in place.
|Expected to be January 2024.
|Carer’s Leave Act 2023
|Any employee caring for a dependant with a long-term care need will be entitled to one week of flexible unpaid leave a year.
|No implementation date announced yet; not expected before April 2024.
|Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023
| – Currently, when employees make a flexible working request, they have to explain its effect on the employer and set out potential ways to deal with it. Under the new law this will no longer be required.
– Employees will also be able to make 2 flexible working requests in a 12-month period and the employer must make a decision within 2 months (rather than 3 months, as now). The Government has also stated that it intends to make this a day-one right through regulations alongside the Act – rather than the current 26 weeks’ continuous service which is required.
|Expected to be July 2024.
|Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023
|– Workers and agency workers with working patterns that lack certainty of hours or times they work, and those on a fixed-term contract of 12 months or less, will have the right to request more predictable terms and conditions of work. Such requests can be rejected on specified statutory grounds, but the process (including any appeal) must be completed within one month. Two applications can be made per employee/worker per year.
– Agency workers (with requisite minimum service) who have worked on the same role for 12 continuous calendar weeks can request to become an employee of the hirer i.e. to change status to become a permanent employee, or an employee on a longer fixed-term contract, of the ultimate client (not the employment agency). This may potentially impact companies regularly using large numbers of agency workers for medium-term or longer assignments.
|Expected to be September 2024.
|Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023
|Employers will have a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of employees at work. If the employer breaches this duty, employment tribunals will be able to increase compensation (which will be uncapped) by up to 25%.
|Expected to be October 2024.
|Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023
|Employed parents whose children are admitted to neonatal care will be granted up to 12 weeks of paid neonatal care leave.
|Expected to be April 2025.
|Protection from Sex-based Harassment in Public Act 2023
|This will create a new criminal offence for intentional harassment, alarm or distress of a person in public, carried out to due to a person’s sex or presumed sex. A workplace may be a public place and employees could be criminally liable for sexual harassment at work.
|No implementation date announced yet.
|Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023
| – Currently, in a redundancy situation employers need to offer employees on maternity leave a suitable alternative vacancy, where one exists.
– The new law will extend this protection to those on adoption or shared parental leave, as well as maternity leave, and extend the period of protection from the point the employee informs the employer that they are expecting a baby until 18 months after the birth.
|No implementation date announced yet.
Employers will need to review policies and procedures, and potentially employment and/or worker contracts, to assess what changes are required to comply with the new laws. New or enhanced processes may need to be put in place to manage risk. Insurance coverage may need to be strengthened. In particular, for companies who hire significant numbers of agency workers, the relationship with work agencies and their workers should be reviewed, and any current terms used reconsidered, in light of 4 above.
We hope this alert will provide a useful reminder to ensure adequate provisions are in place to comply with the new laws once they come into effect. If you have any questions regarding the material discussed in this alert, please contact the members of our Employment and Employee Benefits practice. We are of course happy to provide additional guidance as needed.