Fairfield HR

Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes to the HR & Employment legislation

Running a business is pretty full on… Sales, profit, loss, employees, where you’re going to have the Christmas do…all take a huge amount on grey matter to deal with! Therefore, having to keep up with the subtle and not so subtle changes in employment law year in, year out can be extremely challenging! So, strap yourselves in… for my quick (trust me… I did my best!) guide on what to expect as an employer in 2023.

What employment law changes do you need to be aware of?

National Minimum Wage

Firstly, the big one! On the 1st of April, National Minimum Wage (NMW) is due to be increased. Details as follows:

  • Workers aged 23 and over = National Living Wage of £10.42 per hour
  • 21 to 22 = £10.18 per hour
  • 18 to 20 = £7.49 per hour
  • 16 to 17 = £5.28 per hour
  • Apprentices = £5.28 per hour

You need to ensure you’re ready and up to date, as penalties for non-compliance can be severe and can include the following:

· Fines of up to £20,000 per employee.

· Public listing by HMRC which can damage reputation.

· Bans from being a company director too.

There is also a scheduled increase in statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental and sick pay. These come into effect from the 2nd of April and are as follows:

  • An increase from £156.66 to £172.48 a week for maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave
  • Statutory sick pay (SSP) increases from £99.35 to £109.40 per week

Extra Bank Holiday for the Coronation

Long live King Charles! Don’t forget the extra bank holiday to mark the new King’s coronation on Monday 8th of May, which is 2 days after the ceremony.

Employers should remember that this bank holiday will be in addition to the standard annual eight bank holidays.

As with previous additional bank holidays, it will largely depend on what your terms are for bank holidays in your contracts of employment.

Contracts which outline a specified number of bank holidays, or which contain clauses requiring bank holidays to be taken at different times of the year, mean you are not obligated to allow your employees this day off. If you do, this time could essentially be unpaid.

However, you may wish to grant the day off, paid, as a goodwill gesture.

It’s up to you whether you’re able to grant this or not… you’ll have to weigh up the pros and cons of cost vs morale vs business etc. I’d just personally recommend you provide your employees with ample notice to plan accordingly. And always, communicate what you’re doing.

EU/Brexit Legislation

Here’s something fundamental that might happen this year. But it might not, as there’s already murmurings of a delay till 2026.

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022. At present, EU law trumps UK law if there is a conflict between the two. This is (currently) due to stop after 31st December this year, meaning the Government can change all the EU laws we still adhere to post-Brexit.

This could be very significant indeed. It’s not 100% certain which employment acts will be affected yet, but it could potentially affect Agency Workers’ Rights (AWR), Working Time Regulations and also TUPE processes, but currently this is all speculation.

But one I’ll be keeping a keen eye on as the year progresses.

Flexible Working Requests

At some point in 2023, there are plans for flexible working requests to be allowed from day one of employment, rather than after 26 weeks of employment.

– Employers cannot reject an application without discussing the flexible working requests or explored all other options first.

– Employees will be able to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period, instead of just one.

– Employers must respond to such requests within 2 months, down from 3 months.

– The onus is removed from the employee to help mitigate any knock on effects of them working flexibly.

Fire and Rehire

HMRC are committed to coming down hard on companies who “Fire and Rehire”

Here’s what they say:
“A statutory code on the practice of ‘fire and rehire’ will clamp down on controversial tactics used by employers who fail to engage in meaningful consultations with employees.”

In a nutshell, HMRC are supporting increased compensation in a tribunal, which may see a 25% increase in any award if it feels the above statutory code was broken.

Strike 1 and out?

In response to the recent public sector strikes, the Government has presented the “Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill” to Parliament. This new bill will give the Government the power to impose minimum service levels for health, border security, education, fire and rescue and transport services as it sees fit. As well as the decommissioning of nuclear installations and management of radioactive waste and spent fuel.

Applying to England, Wales and Scotland, it would actually make strikes unlawful, removing unfair dismissal protection from a striking employee and also potentially opening unions to fines if they do not uphold the imposed minimum working requirements.

There’s no set date or even any certainty this will be passed as yet, so this is an if/maybe scenario right now.

Zero hours contracts

There has been some discrepancy recently in regard to how pay and holiday pay is calculated for zero-hours contracts workers, vs part-time workers. The calculations can see holiday pay being higher with zero hours or part-year­ workers, so they’re doing their best to update calculations to restore parity.

This is also one to keep an eye on…

So, there you have it… My “quick” guide!

Bottom line is… if you’re unsure on anything employer/employment law related, drop me a line and I’ll happily give you guidance to put you in good stead for any changes of policy/law.

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