Wed 04 Jan 2023

What to expect in employment law in 2023

New rights may be progressed under UK Government backed Private Members' Bills, but we also may see the abolition or amendment of some rights that have their roots in EU law.


Arguably, 2022 was a disappointing year in terms of the development of employment law.  One of the few successes was the increased profile of the impact menopause has on women in the workplace (although calls to make it a new protected characteristic under the Equality Act  have so far fallen on deaf ears).  The much anticipated (and overdue) introduction of mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting was also taken off the table in 2022, which seems to make the introduction of disability pay gap reporting also seem less likely. 

However, a flurry of Private Members' Bills receiving UK Government backing, in the second half of 2022 means that most of the rights proposed under the Employment Bill are likely to proceed through Parliament during 2023. Whether they come into force in 2023 is another matter and it may well be that some of the changes expected will be pushed into 2024.  The specific issues currently being progressed include the process for requesting flexible working (including it becoming a day one right), new rights to neonatal leave and pay, unpaid leave for carers, protection from redundancy for pregnant women and new parents and fair allocation of tips.

The UK Government's promise to introduce a duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace is also progressing via a Private Members' Bill.  This Bill will also re-introduce provisions on making employers liable for third party harassment. 

The Transport Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill will also continue to make its way through Parliament.  Vehemently opposed by the unions, the Bill makes provision for minimum service levels during strike action relating to transport services. 

The great unknown of 2023 is the impact that the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill will have.  The Bill is currently drafted to result in any remaining EU law being abolished by a "sunset date" of 31 December 2023 unless it is specifically retained by the UK Parliament before then.  There is scope to push this date back to 23 June 2026.  This Bill will undoubtedly have a rocky path through Parliament so it remains to be seen in what format it finally becomes law. It is anticipated though that it may impact on regulations including those covering agency workers, working time, part-time workers, fixed term employees and TUPE.

It is difficult to know exactly when the changes highlighted will come into force, but with the various issues referred to above, new guidance on employment practices and data protection from the ICO and the progression of other consultations, 2023 is set to be a very busy year.  For more detail and to be kept up to date throughout the year see our Employment Law Reform Timeline.

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