Wed 27 Dec 2023

Employment Law Round Up - January 2024

Our monthly employment law round up.  

Updated Code of Practice on flexible working

ACAS have confirmed that its updated Code of Practice on handling flexible working requests will be published in 2024.  An exact date has not been confirmed but the updated Code will address the changes to the law around the right to request flexible working that are to be introduced in 2024.  The day 1 right to request flexible working will come into force on 6 April and it is likely that the changes to the request procedure will come into force at the same time.

Employers encouraged to offer "midlife MOTs"

Employers, and especially SMEs, are being encouraged to offer "midlife MOTs" to workers aged 50 and over.  These are not simply health checks, rather they are seen as opportunities for employees to take stock of their work, health and finances with a view to older workers remaining in the workforce for longer.  The Department of Work and Pensions has created a Midlife MOT website aimed at those between the ages of 45 and 65. The resources there can though be used by anyone to help with planning for the future.

Data protection: draft guidance for employers

The ICO has published two further pieces of draft guidance for consultation. Draft guidance on keeping employment records is aimed at employers, while the draft guidance on recruitment and selection is relevant to both employers and organisations which carry out recruitment on behalf of employers.  Both aim to help those involved understand their obligations under the UK General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018.  Both consultations are open until 5 March 2024.

Call for default flexible working to close gender pay gap

After disappointing gender pay gap figures in 2023, the Fawcett Society ended the year calling for default flexible working to be introduced as a way to close the gender pay gap.  A report published by the Society on 23 November 2023 (the day after "equal pay day" which is the day on which women overall stop being paid for their year's work in comparison to men) made for depressing reading. It notes that at the current rate of change it will be another 28 years before the pay gap closes.  It also found that while the type of flexible working available to men were generally more favourable, arrangements available to women can often be associated with lower pay and job insecurity.

Working class employees paid over £6,000 less per annum

Analysis of the class pay gap published at the end of last year by the Social Mobility Foundation  showed that professional employees from working-class backgrounds earn on average £6,291 per annum less than those in the same occupation with a more privileged background.  This makes "class pay gap day" 17 November 2023.  The gap is even wider in the private sector, with those from a more privileged background earning £7,575 more per annum.

Changes to calculation of IR35 liability to take effect from April 2024

Currently where an individual supplying services via an intermediary company to an organisation (off-payroll working) is found to be a deemed employee of that organisation, technically it is the employing organisation that is liable for the full cost of any tax liability.  HMRC have no duty to offset any tax previously paid by either the deemed employee or the intermediary company.  This can result in over-collection of tax.  Although it is understood that HMRC has generally applied an offset for tax already paid, from April 2024 they will be required to do so.  From the employing organisation's perspective that will bring welcome certainly regarding the overall liability and that the individual will bear some of it, rather than relying on a concession from HMRC. 

Minimum service level regulations come into force

During the course of December minimum service level ("MSL") regulations came into force in respect of passenger rail services, ambulance services and border security and passport services.  The regulations enable employers in the relevant sectors to impose minimum service levels on workers and unions during strikes.  The regulations are opposed by unions and will be revoked should Labour win the next general election.

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