Various draft bills related to employment are currently progressing through Parliament and could become law in 2023. One such bill is the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill known as the ‘Brexit Freedoms Bill’ or ‘REUL Bill’ which the Government first presented to the House of Commons in September 2022.
The aim of the REUL Bill is to remove (“sunset”) all retained EU Law from the UK statute book by 31 December 2023, with the exception of those pieces of legislation which the Government specifically decides to preserve. (Retained EU Law is a category of UK Law that was created at the end of the Brexit transition period and consists of EU-derived legislation that was kept in our domestic legal framework by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018).
This bill is significant as there are over 2,400 pieces of retained EU Law which need to be reviewed by the December 2023 sunset date and there is a risk that swathes of legislation could disappear without anything to replace them if the Government has not been able to review them and decide their fate in time.
Changes to the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill
The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, which the Government introduced to Parliament in July 2022 aims to ease the burden of data protection compliance and better regulate the use of digital information. It is currently going through the House of Commons.
Government-backed private members’ bills
The long-anticipated Employment Bill has still not materialised. (In November 2022, it was said in the House of Lords that this Bill will be brought forward “when parliamentary time allows”). However, some of the measures that had been expected to be included in the Employment Bill appear instead in private members’ bills progressing through Parliament, which the Government is supporting, as follows:
The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill aims to amend the process for requesting flexible working in various respects. It is the Government’s intention to:
- Make the right to request flexible working a “day one right”;
- Introduce a new requirement for employers to consult with employees when they intend to reject their flexible working requests;
- Allow two statutory requests in any twelve-month period rather than the current one;
- Reduce the decision period from three months to two months in respect of a statutory flexible working request; and
- Remove the existing requirement that the employee must explain what effect, if any, the change requested would have on the employer and how that effect might be dealt with.
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill aims to extend the redundancy protections that currently apply to employees on maternity, adoption and shared parental leave to employees who are pregnant or who have recently returned to work from such leave.
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill makes provision for up to twelve weeks of statutory leave and pay for employees whose children are admitted to neonatal care for at least seven days.
The Carer’s Leave Bill aims to introduce a statutory right to one week’s unpaid leave per year for employees with caring responsibilities. We expect these changes to be implemented relatively soon, although no timescale has been announced.
Other Employment law changes we can expect in 2023
Other bills which are in the early stages of being debated in the House of Commons and are worth keeping an eye on during 2023 include:
The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill seeks to reinstate protections for workers from harassment by third parties such as clients, customers, and patients);
The Employment (Application Requirements) Bill to regulate the use of minimum qualification or experience requirements in job applications;
The Fertility Treatment (Employment Rights) Bill requires employers to allow employees to take time off from work for fertility treatment appointments;
The Miscarriage Leave Bill would make provision for three days of paid leave for people who have experienced miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, or molar pregnancy before 24 weeks; and
The Working Time Regulations (Amendment) Bill would amend the Working Time Regulations 1998 to reduce the maximum working week from 48 hours per week to 32 hours per week and to provide for overtime pay.
Increased UK statutory pay rates
The Government has confirmed that the rate of statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay and statutory shared parental pay will go up to £172.48 per week. This increase is expected to occur from 2 April 2023.
The rate of statutory sick pay will increase to £109.40 per week from £99.35. This increase is expected to occur on 6 April 2023.
To be entitled to the above statutory payments, employees’ average earnings must be equal to or more than the lower earnings limit, which will remain at £123 per week.
The various rates of the National Minimum Wage are also due to increase from 1 April 2023, as follows:
The National Living Wage (NLW), the statutory minimum for workers aged 23 and over, will increase by 9.7% to £10.42 per hour.
- The rate for workers aged 21 to 22 will increase by 10.9% to £10.18 per hour.
- The rate for workers aged 18 to 20 will increase by 9.7% to £7.49 per hour.
- The rate for young workers aged 16 to 17 will increase by 9.7 % to £5.28 per hour.
- The apprentice rate will increase by 9.7% to £5.28 per hour.
The NLW, Real Living Wage, and London Living Wage normally increase in November each year, but due to the cost-of-living crisis, the announcement of this year’s Real Living Wage and London Living Wage changes was brought forward to September 2022. Living Wage Employers should implement the new rates as soon as possible (and by 14 May 2023 at the latest).
If they are passed, these employment law changes are expected to come into effect during the course of 2023. Feel free to contact our solicitors if you need legal advice about they might affect your organisation.
Sarah Wilkinson is an employment solicitor with over 20 years of experience in dispute resolution. Sarah also has extensive experience in breach of contract claims and injunctions. Sarah is a member of The Law Society, The SRA and the ELA. To contact Sarah, visit the Contact Us page. For media enquiries: email@example.com