Sam Purvis, Managing Director at The Compass Partnership, HR, employment law and learning & development specialists, provides an update on employment law changes for the coming year and their effects on your vehicle recycling business and its employees.
2022 and into 2023 promises to be a very interesting time for employment law. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit, several updates to employment law were delayed. New legislation is expected to reflect changes set out in the Queen’s Speech in 2019, when several key policies were outlined as part of a promised new Employment Bill, which should hopefully make its way through Parliament this year.
While no timescales have been committed to, the government has confirmed that the Employment Bill is still on its agenda. Other measures expected to be included in the Employment Bill are wide-ranging and will include those listed below and probably others for which further consultation is required.
The key employment law changes expected in 2022/23 are summarised below:
Sexual harassment in the workplace
A new duty on employers will be introduced to prevent sexual harassment and will support further protections from third-party harassment in the work environment. There is also a suggestion that the time limit to bring a claim for sexual harassment at work under the Equality Act may be extended from three months to six months, allowing more victims to bring their claims.
Alongside this, the government has pledged to increase support to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (the statutory body responsible for enforcing equality legislation) by enabling it to take further action against employers who fail to comply with their current obligations. It is anticipated that a new statutory Code of Practice will be published in the coming year, along with accessible guidance for employers on what they need to do to ensure the safety of their employees.
Currently, employees must have 26 weeks’ service to be eligible to request a variation to their terms and conditions of employment for more flexible working. It is expected that this right will be made the default position from ‘day one’ of employment. However, the government has said that it is conscious that employers should always be able to turn down flexible working requests where appropriate, so the new legislation will have to protect this employer’s right.
According to the government’s consultation published in September 2021, legislation will be introduced giving a right for employees with long-term caring responsibilities up to five working days of unpaid leave per year. This right would be from ‘day one’ of employment. However, to take the new carer’s leave, it has been suggested that employees will be required to give notice of at least twice the length of the notice requested, plus one day.
This new type of leave would take the form of an additional week away from work for every week that a parent’s baby is in neonatal care (the definition of which is yet to be decided), with a maximum of 12 weeks’ leave being permitted. Employees would be entitled to neonatal leave from day one of employment. Statutory neonatal leave pay would be permitted for those with 26 weeks’ continuous service who earn above the minimum pay threshold.
Extending redundancy protection for women and new parents
This would offer extended redundancy protection (i.e., the right to be offered suitable alternative employment) to pregnant employees for six months after the return from maternity leave, as well as to those taking adoption leave or shared parental leave.
Protection will apply to pregnant women from the point they notify their employer of their pregnancy until six months after a mother, or other eligible employee has returned to work.
The right for workers to request a more predictable and stable contract
This will offer workers the right to request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks’ service for those with variable and unpredictable hours (which formed part of the government’s 2018 Good Work Plan).
The Tribunals are continuing to work through a considerable backlog of claims. Tribunals initially adopted technology and remote working during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. However, they appear to have moved towards reinstating in-person hearings where possible in recent months. It remains to be seen if that trend will (or can) continue in 2022 in light of the sheer volume of cases waiting to be heard.
Gender pay gap reporting
Organisations employing 250 or more employees are obliged to publish an annual report containing data on their gender pay gap. Enforcement of the reporting deadlines was extended in 2021. However, in 2022, the deadlines reverted to normal timescales, i.e.:
For public sector employers, the deadline was 30th March 2022 with a snapshot date of 31st March 2021;
For private-sector employers and voluntary organisations, the deadline was 4th April 2022, with a snapshot date of 5th April 2021.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) provides guidance to support organisations in tackling their gender pay gap, along with other government sites such as GOV.UK.
Guidance and useful links:
Ethnicity pay gap reporting
The response to the 2018 consultation on mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting is still awaited. Further guidance is expected in the course of considerations and debates on the Employment Bill.
To find out how The Compass Partnership can support your business with all its HR needs, email Sam directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information on the HR Toolkit visit www.compasshrtoolkit.com