Tue 31 Jan 2023

Employment Law Round Up - February 2023

Our monthly employment law round up.

Draft Code of Practice on Dismissal and Re-engagement published

In the wake of significant publicity surrounding large employers using controversial "fire and re-hire" strategies to alter the terms and conditions of their workers, the Draft Code of Practice on Dismissal and Re-engagement was published on 24 January.  The Code aims to set out good industrial practice when terms and conditions need altered, and makes clear dismissal and re-engagement should only be used as a last option.  Once in force, employment tribunals will have to take the Code into account when considering relevant claims.  Any employer being found to have unreasonably failed to comply with the Code risks an uplift of 25% being made to any compensation awarded.

UK Government proposing changes to way holiday entitlement for part year workers is calculated

The UK Government has issued a consultation paper addressing the issues arising from the 2022 Supreme Court judgment in Harper Trust v Brazel.  The judgment created a disparity where part-year workers are entitled to more paid holiday than part-time workers who work the same hours but work across the whole year.  The UK Government is proposing to make holiday entitlement proportionate to hours worked to address this.  This would be done by using a 52 week reference period that includes weeks when no work is done.  Currently weeks where no work is done are ignored, hence creating the disparity.  Agency workers (for whom a 52 week reference period may not be possible) would accrue leave each month at the rate of 12.07% of hours worked.  The consultation will close on 9 March 2023.

Cost of living crisis delaying retirement

Data published by financial services group Legal and General has found that the current cost of living crisis has led 2.5 million pre-retirees to delay retirement.  On average, those delaying retirement said they will need to push it back by almost 3 years.  Meanwhile, recent data from the Office of National Statistics has found that amongst those aged 50 to 64 there has been a significant decrease in those citing retirement as the cause of economic inactivity. 

Link between Covid-19 infection and the workplace established for the first time

An inquest into the death of two nurses who contracted Covid-19 while at work during the early stages of the pandemic has recorded a verdict of "death by industrial disease".  This is the first known time that such a connection has been made.   The senior coroner for South Wales Central concluded that it was "more likely than not" that both nurses were exposed to the virus at work, ruling that they died of an industrial disease.  Whilst the death of the nurses in each case is tragic, it  is not expected that this ruling will lead to the opening of flood gates to civil cases.  Both cases turned on their own facts and the other legal hurdles that would need to be overcome for a successful civil claim remain very high.

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