New employment law in 2023

The Government may not have brought forward an employment bill in 2022, but there are now an unprecedented number of private members’ bills before Parliament dealing with employment rights.

All the Bills mentioned below have now received Government backing, so it is a fair assumption that most, if not all, of them will make it onto the statute book in the course of 2023.

It is less clear exactly when the various new measures will actually be brought into force, though we should have a better idea by the middle of next year. In most cases separate secondary legislation will be required before the new employment rights to be created by the Bills can become effective.

Bills which we are tracking include the following:

Flexible working: the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill would introduce a number of changes to the rules on the right to request flexible working, including allowing up to two requests a year. The Government has also promised to remove the qualifying period, so that it becomes a “day one” right – this can be done by secondary legislation. You can read more about the proposed changes here.

Harassment at work: the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill would introduce two changes to increase the protection of workers from harassment. It would impose a new duty on employers to take all reasonable steps prevent overtly sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as restore protection against third-party harassment (of all types).

Enhanced redundancy protection: the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill would extend enhanced protection against redundancy (which currently applies only during maternity leave) so that it also applies during pregnancy and for a defined period after returning to work. Similar rights would be extended to employees taking adoption and shared parental leave.

Neonatal leave and pay: the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill would create a new framework to support parents of premature or sick babies by providing neonatal leave and pay. Full details of the new rights would be set out in regulations. Under current proposals, there would be an entitlement to one week's leave for each week that their baby is in neonatal care, up to 12 weeks. The leave would be tacked onto the end of an employee's maternity or paternity leave and paid at the usual statutory rate.

Carer’s leave: the Carer’s Leave Bill would create a new right for employees to take a least a week of unpaid leave in any year in order to provide care for a dependent with a long-term care need. Full details of the entitlement and the conditions attached to it would need to be set out in regulations.

All these Bills are currently scheduled to reach their report stage in the House of Commons in January or February 2023. After that, there would need to be a third reading in the Commons, before the Bills go through a similar approval process in the House of Lords.

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