HR and employers are warned of potentially wide-ranging changes in the law in 2023, as the UK Government plans to proceed with its legislative overhaul of UK employment and immigration laws. What could these changes include?
Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill (‘Brexit Freedoms Bill’ or ‘REUL Bill’)
The purpose of the REUL Bill is to “sunset” from the UK all retained EU laws by the end of 2023, with the exception of those pieces of legislation that the Government wishes to maintain. Retained EU Law is a specific category of law in the UK that was established after the conclusion of the Brexit transition phase and comprises of EU-derived legislation that was retained in our domestic legal framework by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act of 2018.
This bill is significant because there are over 2,400 pieces of retained EU law that must be reviewed by the sunset date of December 2023, and there is a risk that vast swaths of legislation could vanish without being replaced if the Government is not able to review and decide on each piece of law in time.
Private members’ bills
The following private members’ bills are progressing through Parliament with Government backing:
The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill seeks to modify the process for requesting flexible working in a number of ways:
- make the right to request flexible working a “right from day one”;
- introduce a new need for companies to consult with employees before rejecting their requests for flexible working arrangements;
- permit two statutory requests per year (as opposed to the present one);
- require a two-month decision period for statutory flexible working requests (instead of the present three months); and
- remove the requirement that the employee must explain what impact, if any, the requested change would have on the employer and how that impact could be mitigated.
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill proposes to expand the redundancy protections that presently apply to employees on maternity, adoption, and shared parental leave to pregnant employees and those who have recently returned from such leave.
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill allows employees whose infants are admitted to neonatal care for at least seven days to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave.
The Carer’s Leave Bill intends to grant employees with care obligations a formal right to one week of unpaid leave every year.
Possible changes to UK immigration laws
To solve labour shortages, the government has hinted that it may alter the UK immigration system, specifically the points-based system and the Shortage Occupation List (“SOL”). The SOL is a list of occupations that the government deems to be in short supply on the British labour market. Currently, if a job is listed on the SOL, the sponsored worker’s visa application is subject to reduced application fees and salary requirements.
While the Home Secretary has recently indicated that changes to the spouse and student visas could be put in place to reduce immigration under these specific routes, it is possible that changes will occur in 2023 to make it easier for British businesses to recruit foreign workers, although no explicit government intentions have been made.
Other possible employment-related changes
The following are currently in the early stages of progressing through the House of Commons for debate:
- Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill
- Employment (Application Requirements) Bill
- Fertility Treatment (Employment Rights) Bill
- Miscarriage Leave Bill
- Working Time Regulations (Amendment) Bill
Statutory pay entitlements
The weekly rate for statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay, and statutory shared parental pay will increase to £172.48, and is anticipated to take effect on 2 April 2023.
Statutory sick pay rate is set to increase to £109.40 per week, from £99.35. This increase is expected to occur on 6 April 2023.
The various rates of the national minimum wage are also due to increase from 1 April 2023, as follows:
- The National Living Wage (NLW), the statutory minimum for workers aged 23 and over, will increase by 9.7% to £10.42 per hour.
- The rate for workers aged 21 to 22 will increase by 10.9% to £10.18 per hour.
- The rate for workers aged 18 to 20 will increase by 9.7% to £7.49 per hour.
- The rate for young workers aged 16 to 17 will increase by 9.7 % to £5.28 per hour.
- The apprentice rate will increase by 9.7% to £5.28 per hour.
As a team of employer solutions lawyers, our employment and immigration law and HR and global mobility experts are on hand to answer any questions you may have about legal changes affecting your business. For specialist advice, speak to us.
Last updated: 28 December 2022