The government has recently backed a number of new laws that will affect all employers in the coming years.
Family rights. Rules around staff tips. The ability to request more stable working hours…There are big updates in store for working laws. And big changes to working laws could mean big changes to your policies and contracts too.
So, to make sure you’re ready, here’s a roundup of all the important updates you need to be aware of…
1. All EU-derived laws might expire
A lot of the UK’s current laws were introduced by the European Union.
While the government didn’t abandon EU laws as soon as the UK left, they wanted to have the power to change them.
So, they set out the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill’ to do that. This bill means all existing EU-derived laws will expire by 31st December 2023 – unless the government takes steps to keep or change them.
Meaning the government has until the end of the year to sift through all of our current EU-derived laws and decide whether to keep, replace or axe them. And if they haven’t decided on a law’s fate by the end of the year, it will expire automatically. That’s if they don’t give it an extension.
This could mean big changes to many working laws we know, like the maximum weekly working hours and the minimum length of rest breaks. So, you’ll need to stay posted on any important announcements to be ready to update your documents if and when necessary.
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2. There’ll be more paid leave for parents of sick newborn babies
Next up is ‘The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill’ which will give your staff the right to extra paid leave if they have babies in neonatal care.
A baby can stay in neonatal care for long periods of time if they’re born premature or sick. And many parents don’t have a lot of time off after birth – two weeks in the neonatal unit could use up a new parent’s entire statutory paternity leave.
So, new parents can often end up taking unpaid leave or dipping into their maternity or shared parental leave while they stay in hospital with the baby.
But under this new bill, new parents will be able to take up to 12 extra weeks off work, which is on top of the family leave they’re already entitled to. And the rate of pay should be in line with the statutory rate for other family-related leave, like maternity, paternity, and shared parental leave.
This is to give parents more time to spend with their babies in the neonatal unit, without having to worry about pay and work.
And while it’s not yet confirmed, staff will likely only be eligible for this if:
- they’re earning above the minimum lower earnings limit
- their baby is 28 days old or less
- their baby has spent a minimum of one week in a neonatal unit
3. Staff who provide care will get a week off every year
While new parents will get more time off to care for their poorly babies, there’ll also be a new right for someone who looks after a close family member or housemate.
Many people provide unpaid care for loved ones while trying to juggle their jobs.
But that’s set to change under the new ‘Carer’s Leave Bill’. This Bill will give your staff the right to take up to one week (five working days) of unpaid leave every year if they need to arrange or provide care for someone.
To be eligible, the person the employee cares for must both be a ‘dependant’ and have a long-term care need, like a disability. So, this could either be a close family member like a parent or sibling, a partner, or someone who lives with them and relies on them for care.
These employees will be able to request carer’s leave in days or a one-week block. And while it’s not certain this will be a rule just yet, they probably won’t be able to take less than half a day. They may also have to give a certain amount of notice, but the government has yet to confirm these details.
What we do know is you’re likely to have only a few limited reasons why you might be able to refuse carer’s leave if your employee makes a request.
4. It will be illegal to withhold tips from staff
If you work in hospitality, this is a particularly important one for you.
Currently, there’s no legal right for staff to keep their tips from customers. Let’s say a customer gives your worker a tip in cash or by card. You may be able to keep this tip or deduct from it if that’s written in your worker’s terms of employment.
Or, let’s say you add a discretionary service charge to a customer’s bill. And if the customer pays it, this money goes straight into your business. You might not think of this as a staff tip, but technically it is.
So under a new law to make sure staff keep hold of their tips, the ‘Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill’ says:
- If a worker receives a tip, they’ll be entitled to it at the end of the following month – whether it’s in full or split between them and other workers.
- You will need a written policy on tipping, which keeps a record of tips and confirms the new rule.
- Workers will have a right to request information about how you’ve been dealing with their tips. They can only go back as far as a maximum of three years, but you’ll need to give them this information within four weeks.
- Agency workers will have the same rights to keep their tips.
The government will also release a statutory code of practice to give businesses and staff advice on how to manage and share tips to staff fairly.
And here’s one last important thing you’ll need to be aware of. Once a worker is able to request their tipping record, you could face a tribunal risk if you have been withholding tips. So, it’s important to seek advice if you think this may affect you.
5. Pregnant employees will have special protection during a redundancy
Currently, a pregnant employee doesn’t have special redundancy protection, but they do have some protection after having the baby. Under current rules, you have to offer an employee on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave a suitable alternative position ahead of your other staff.
But under the upcoming ‘Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill’, these rights will extend to cover pregnant employees too.
So, once that’s in effect, employees who are expecting will have special protection from the minute they tell their boss they’re pregnant, up until their child is 18 months old.
6. There’ll be a minimum staffing level for key emergency sectors to strike
After all the strike disruption in 2022 and into 2023, the government has proposed to introduce the ‘Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill’. This would make sure there’s enough staff working in essential public services if there is a strike.
If this law comes into force, it will impact employers and staff working in key emergency sectors including:
- The health service
- Fire and rescue
- Nuclear Decommissioning
- Management of radioactive waste
- Border security
It means that if you work in one of these sectors and know of plans for a strike, you’ll need to make sure there’s a minimum number of people to carry on working for it to be legal. It would be up to you how to fill any absences, but one example could be hiring agency staff.
This is to help lessen the disruption of strikes and allow these sectors to keep providing a minimum service.
7. You may need to change your workers’ hours
Most recently, it looks like there could also be a new right that allows certain workers to ask for more stable working patterns.
A new 'Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill' could give all workers who have unpredictable working hours the right to ask for more stable and predictable hours.
This will affect:
- Zero-hour workers
- Agency staff
- Staff on a fixed-term contract which is less than 12 months
Like the flexible working requests, you will only be able to refuse a request for a specific approved reason.
The law’s always changing, so let us help you stay safe from risk.
Need help updating or creating your policies and contracts? Peninsula’s HR experts are on hand to offer round-the-clock advice and documentation support.
So, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0800 028 2420 or leave us a few details here and we’ll call you.