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MILLIONS of workers will be affected by a number of rule changes this year, including a pay rise.
Each year there are numerous tweaks to employment law, some of which benefit workers.
We’ve rounded up some of the most important changes likely to come down the tracks in 2023 – and what they might mean for working practices in the UK.
Remember, what you are entitled to may vary depending on what your work contract says, so always ask your boss or HR if you are confused.
You also can approach agencies such as Citizens Advice for free help if you are having trouble at work, or many local councils offer free employment support for residents.
Here are some of the changes to the law which are coming, or are being considered by the Government, and what they might mean for you.
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1. Wage increases
The National Living Wage (NLW) will rise to £10.42 from April 2023, an increase of 9.7%.
This is the largest increase to the NLW since it was introduced in 2016, reflecting the steep rise in inflation and the cost of living crisis.
Anyone over the age of 23 who is classed as an "employee" or "worker" is entitled to receive this.
Statutory sick pay will also go up, to £109.40 in April from the current rate of £99.35.
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And the weekly prescribed rate of statutory maternity pay (and pay for other types of leave) will go from £156.66 to £172.48.
2. Extra bank holiday
There is an extra bank holiday this year, on May 8, to celebrate King Charles’ coronation.
Your employer will be required to treat this like any other bank holiday.
Whether you get the day off or not will depend on what usually happens on other days such as Easter or Christmas.
3. Flexible working
Employees can currently only make a request to work flexibly after working somewhere for 26 weeks.
But the Government wants to change this to make it possible from the first day of any job – essentially making flexible working the default option.
When this bill becomes law, employers will be required to consult with their workers about their options, and employees will be able to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period.
Employers will also have to respond to flexible working requests in two months, not the current three.
And if your boss is going to reject your request, they will have to discuss alternative options for working flexibly with you.
We don’t know yet when this new rule will come into force, but the Government has already completed a consultation on it.
It is currently moving through the various Parliamentary stages required for sign-off.
4. Protection from harassment
The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament, includes a new duty on employers to take “reasonable steps” to prevent sexual harassment of their employees.
We don’t know what these “reasonable steps” might be yet, but the Government has already said it probably won’t make a list of things that employers have to do.
Instead, it will be up to each workplace to prove it is keeping its staff safe.
The proposed changes in the bill would also make employers liable for harassment of their employees by third parties, such as clients or customers.
5. Fair distribution of tips
A bill making it unlawful for employers to withhold tips and service charges from staff is currently being scrutinised by ministers.
When that passes, a new code of practice will be developed to provide businesses and staff with advice on how tips should be distributed.
Workers will also receive a new right to request more information relating to an employer’s tipping record.
This will make it easier to bring a claim to an employment tribunal if they need to.
Again, we don’t know yet when this bill will become law, but it is currently working its way through the House of Lords – the second stage of its sign-off.
6. 'Fire and re-hire'
After P&O Ferries made mass lay-offs in March 2022, the Government announced that it would implement a new code on so-called “fire and re-hire” practices.
A draft copy of the Code of Practice was published last month, and the government is consulting on it for 12 weeks.
It sets out employers’ responsibilities when seeking to change the terms and conditions of workers’ contracts, including requiring employers to “consult with employees in a fair and transparent way”.
Any changes to the law around this are likely to come later this year or early 2024.
7. Family leave and pay
There are a number of other Private Members Bills concerning the rights of people with family responsibilities which have had Government support, and are likely to come into effect from the summer and into next year:
Private Members' bills are public bills introduced by MPs and Lords who are not government ministers.
- The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill suggests extending the rights of protection from redundancy for women during or after pregnancy, potentially meaning you can’t be made redundant from the moment you tell your boss that you’re pregnant, until six months after you come back to work.
- The Carer’s Leave Bill suggests giving employees who are providing or arranging care for family members up to one week’s unpaid leave per year and protection from being fired if they take time off to do so.
- The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill provides parents with a new right to up to 12 weeks of paid time off if their baby requires long-term hospital care in the first month of its life.
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It is also expected that a Miscarriage Leave Bill and a Fertility Treatment (Employment Rights) Bill will progress through Parliament in the next few months.
This will provide people with a right to paid bereavement leave and paid time off for fertility treatment respectively.
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