Thu 12 Oct 2023

Employment Law Round Up - October 2023

Our monthly employment law round up.

Labour promise employment bill in first 100 days if elected

While attending the TUC annual conference, Labour deputy leader, Angela Raynor, gave a "cast iron commitment" that the Labour party would introduce an Employment Rights Bill within 100 days of getting into office, if the party win the next general election.  This will include repealing the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023, updating trade union laws to take into account of recent technological advances and providing unions with new rights of access to workplaces to recruit and represent members.  The statutory recognition process will also be simplified.  Other measures mentioned included day one basic rights, banning zero hours contracts, introducing a "proper living wage", ending fire and rehire practices, tackling the gender pay gap faster and making sick pay available to all workers including the lowest paid. 

Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act receives Royal Assent

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 has received Royal Assent (become law).  It introduces a new statutory right for workers whose existing working patterns lack certainty (in terms of hours or times they work) and those on a fixed-term contract of 12 months or less to request a more predictable working pattern.  The detail of how the new right will work will be set out in secondary legislation but it is expected that (1) workers will require 26 weeks service to make a request, (2) that employers must deal with a request reasonably and (3) employers must notify the worker of a decision within a month.   However, the secondary legislation will not come into force for another 12 months or so to give employers time to prepare for the changes. 

New pensions auto-enrolment measures introduced

New legislation lowering the age for pensions auto-enrolment received Royal Assent on 18 September.  The Pensions (Extension of Automatic Enrolment) Act 2023 ("the Act") will require employers to automatically enrol employees at age 18 rather than the current age of 22.  Employers will also be required to apply the statutory auto-enrolment contributions from the first £1 of earnings rather than from only above the lower earnings limit of £192 a week.  It is not yet clear when the measures under the Act will take effect but it is understood that a consultation on implementation will be launched by the DWP in the near future. 

£1.3 million compensation award made by employment tribunal

The average compensation award made by the employment tribunal each year is often at a level which the general public might find to be surprisingly low.  However, occasionally very high awards are made and these are usually in discrimination claims.  That was the case in Sommer vs Swiss Re Corporate Solutions Services Ltd.  The claimant had been subjected to sexual harassment, sex and maternity-related discrimination, and unfair dismissal. The total gross award made was £1,287,104 or £771,312 after tax.  The award included £50,000 for breach of the ACAS Code of practice, approximately £625,000 in loss of earnings, £30,000 for injury to feelings and £10,000 each for psychiatric injury and aggravated damages. 

New guide on workplace transgender and non-binary diversity, equity and inclusion published

The CIPD have published a new guide for employers on transgender and non-binary inclusion at work as part of a broader equity, diversity and inclusion policy.  The guide covers every stage of the employee lifecycle, from recruitment to progression.  Key areas include legal considerations and the protected characteristic of gender reassignment, ensuring EDI policies are supportive, creating a safe and equal workplace, encouraging inclusive language in the workplace and ensuring privacy when managing data.  It also covers supporting employees through a transition and managing different views in the workplace, an issue that has seen a significant amount of employment tribunal litigation recently. 

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