Fri 01 Oct 2021

UK Government announcements indicate some progress on new employment rights

Announcements covered flexible working, carers leave and treatment of tips 

The lack of a mention of the Employment Bill in the Queen's Speech in 2021, had many commentators suggesting that we were getting a lot of talk about new rights for workers with little action.  However, September has brought a number of announcements about the rights proposed in the Employment Bill which was first mentioned in the 2019 Queen's Speech.

First come the announcement of a consultation seeking views on whether to make flexible working the default position. The consultation includes:-

  1. consideration of the removal of the 26 week service qualification for making a flexible working request;
  2. whether the current reasons for refusal of a request remain valid;
  3. whether employers should be required to suggest an alternative when a request is turned down;
  4. whether employees should be allowed to make more than one request every 12 months;
  5. whether the three month timescale for employers to respond is appropriate; and
  6. whether the right to request temporary flexible arrangements can be better utilised.

The UK Government response to the consultation on carer's leave was also published. It confirmed that the right will consist of one week of unpaid leave per year which can be taken in any way from half day blocks to a whole week.  There will be no qualifying service requirement for this right.

Finally, the UK Government's response to the consultation on tipping, gratuities, cover and service charges was also published.  This confirmed that legislation will be introduced requiring employers in all sectors not to make any deductions, other than those required by tax law, from tips received by staff.  Employers will also have to distribute tips in a fair and transparent way, have a written policy on tips and record how tips are dealt with.  Employees will be able to request information from their employer about their tipping record and this must be responded to within 4 weeks.  A statutory Code of Practice, that employers must have regard to, is to be produced.  Should any of these rights be breached workers will be able to make claims to an employment tribunal. 

While this progress is to be welcomed, there is still no timescale for the introduction of carer's leave or the new rules in relation to tipping, with legislation to be introduced "when parliamentary time allows".

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