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Let’s take a trip down memory lane for a quick recap on the year that was 2023

Let’s take a trip down memory lane for a quick recap on the year that was 2023
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

It doesn’t seem like 5 minutes ago since the start of 2023 but here we are already at the end of the year. But before we look ahead to 2024, which is set to be a very busy year for employers with lots of legislative changes taking effect, let’s have a quick roundup of what happened this year.

For many the overriding memory will be the disruption caused by lots of strikes. If an employee couldn’t get to work because the train they would usually hop onto was cancelled, or because the teachers at their children’s school were striking, agreements to work from home, take last minute annual leave, or work different days or hours, might have had to hastily be agreed.

Strikes taking place in different sectors, therefore, was one of the main themes of the year and the only area in employment law where there was tangible legislative change which actually took effect.

In July the High Court ruled that the Government had acted unlawfully when they changed the law in 2022 to allow agency workers cover for striking employees. From August it was, consequently, once again unlawful but as the Government has just launched a consultation seeking views to reverse this decision once again, and with minimum service levels being introduced for essential services, we have definitely not heard the last of the Government’s approach to dealing with the effect of strikes.

Another cause of disruption for many this year were the weather extremes. We’ve had it all, from high temperatures, storms, flooding, and snow. Employers have had to cope with employees struggling to get to work, keeping them comfortable once they are at work, and for some businesses they have had to even go so far as to temporarily close. It has certainly been a year where employers have had to be resilient and adaptable.  

We also heard a lot in 2023 about sexual harassment with various reports in the press about high-profile individuals and also accusations involving large organisations. A key focus for every employer has consequently been whether or not they are doing enough to prevent it from occurring in their organisation. With a new proactive duty on the way in late October 2024 to prevent sexual harassment this is something that will have to remain a priority well into the new year.

AI also gained momentum this year, but the jury is still out for many as to whether this is a good or a bad thing. With many still concerned about security and accuracy of using AI in the workplace it is a conversation which will rumble on for some time to come.

A lot of parliamentary time in 2023 has been taken up with the writing of new laws for implementation in 2024 including carer’s leave, added protection from redundancy for pregnant employees, and extending rights relating to flexible working requests. Look out for next month’s Legal Eye where we will be setting out all the new laws to come.  

 

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