We round up the latest employment news.
New National Minimum Wage rates from April 2023 announced
The government has announced substantial increases to the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage in line with the recommendations of the independent Low Pay Commission.
The new rates, which apply from April 2023, are as follows:
Rate for people aged 23 and over - £10.42 per hour (a 9.7% uplift from the current rate of £9.50)
Rate for 21-22 year olds - £10.18 an hour (a 10.9% uplift from the current rate of £9.18)
Rate for 18-20 year olds - £7.49 an hour (a 9.7% uplift from the current rate of £6.83)
Rate for 16-17 year olds - £5.28 an hour (a 9.7% uplift from the current rate of £4.81)
Apprentice rate - £5.28 an hour (a 9.7% uplift from the current rate of £4.81)
Accommodation offset - £9.10 (a 4.6% uplift from the current rate of £8.70).
Increase in rates of Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay and other family-related statutory payments
The government has announced that Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay and other family-related statutory payments will increase in April 2023 as follows:
The rates for Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay, Shared Parental Leave Pay and Parental Bereavement Pay will increase from £156.66 to £172.48 a week
The rate for Statutory Sick Pay will increase from £99.35 to £109.40 a week.
Changes to rules on flexible working requests
The government has
published its response to the consultation on making changes to the flexible working regime which we discuss here. It has decided to go ahead with plans to:
Allow employees to request flexible working from the first day of employment (currently they need 26 weeks’ service) and to make up to two requests in any 12-month period (currently they can only make one request)
Reduce the time limit for an employer to respond to a flexible working request from three to two months
Remove the requirement for employees to set out in their application how their request will impact the organisation
Introduce a new duty on employers to discuss alternatives if they can’t accommodate the original request.
However, the existing eight business reasons for rejecting an application won’t be changed.
We don’t yet know when these changes will come into force. But, the government has said that it will support a Private Member’s Bill which will allow employees to make up to two requests a year and for those requests to be determined within two months. The right to request flexible working from the first day of employment will be implemented through secondary legislation when parliamentary time allows.
New statutory code of practice on fire and re-hire on the cards
The government has said that it will introduce a statutory code of practice to regulate employers who dismiss and offer to re-engage employees on new, less favourable, terms and conditions of employment. It will complement
guidance produced by Acas in 2021. However, it will not back a Private Member’s Bill, introduced in June 2022, which wants to amend the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 and establish a statutory framework to regulate dismissal and re-engagement. Extended ban on exclusivity terms in zero-hour contracts
On Monday 5 December 2022,
new legislation came into force which extended the protection available to zero-hours workers whose contracts include terms which ban them from working for other organisations (exclusivity terms). The new rules apply to anyone engaged on a zero-hour contract who’s guaranteed a net average weekly income that’s below or equivalent to the lower earnings threshold (currently £123).
Contracts that include exclusivity terms will be unenforceable. In addition, employees engaged under these types of zero-hour contracts will be able to claim unfair dismissal if they’re dismissed for working for another organisation. They don’t need two-years’ service to bring a claim.
That right isn’t available to workers. However, if they’re subjected to a detriment (such as being denied work, or their contract is terminated because they’ve breached an exclusivity term) they will be able to complain to the tribunal and obtain compensation which can’t be higher than the maximum amount that applies to unfair dismissal claims.
Supreme Court to hear bid to protect striking workers
The Supreme Court will hear arguments from UNISON, the UK’s largest union, that a recent Court of Appeal decision unfairly allows employers to punish striking workers. The case of Mercer v Alternative Future Group Ltd will be heard sometime next year.
Workers can’t be fired for taking part in industrial action, but that protection expires after 12 weeks. The Court of Appeal said that there’s a legislative gap in what other protection is available to employees taking industrial action. The union argues that this enables ‘unscrupulous employers’ to subject striking workers to detriments (such as withdrawing discretionary benefits) to try and deter them from going on strike.
The outcome of this case could have important ramifications – particularly as we’re seeing waves of new strike action across a number of sectors.
Government publish study looking at impact of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill
impact assessment indicates that there are over 2,400 pieces of EU law to go through and sets out those which have the largest scope for change. These include health and safety rules – but not other employment rights.
The government has said that it will prioritise reforms which have the ‘greatest potential to drive growth’ and it doesn’t look as though these include employment. But it’s not yet clear what the government intends to do about the huge amount of EU derived legislation which has influenced workers’ rights, which will fall off a cliff at the end of 2023 unless it takes steps to preserve these rights. You can read our views on the Bill
here. New draft guidance on using artificial intelligence and personal data
The Information Commissioner’s Office has published
guidance and frequently asked questions on using artificial intelligence (AI) and personal data appropriately and lawfully. New consultation on data protection of workers’ health
The Information Commissioner’s Office has launched a
consultation on its draft guidance on information about workers’ health. The document aims to provide practical guidance on how to handle workers’ health information in accordance with data protection legislation and to promote good practice. It's asking for feedback on the document by 5pm on Thursday 26 January 2023. New report highlights barriers to progression based on class
The socio-economic diversity taskforce has published a five-point pathway aimed at tackling the lack of socio-economic diversity at senior levels in the financial and professional services sectors. The pathway includes recommendations from employers, sector bodies, regulators, and government on how to break the class barrier and create a more welcoming environment for a more diverse pool of talent.
Read more - December 2022
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