Key employment law updates | December 2022

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill rated not fit for purpose by the Regulatory Policy Committee

The Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC), an independent body, has published its formal opinion on the Government's impact assessment of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill (the Bill). As previously highlighted in our recent bulletins, the Bill (as currently drafted) seeks to give the government the power to significantly change the current status, operation, and content of Retained EU Law (REUL). The RPC rated the impact assessment as not fit for purpose and considered the government's rationale and options, cost-benefit analysis, wider impacts, monitoring and evaluation plan as 'weak' or 'very weak'. Evidence provided to support these areas was either unclear or did not take into account other factors.

The RPC highlighted the uncertainty that has been, and will be, created with the sunsetting or amending of potentially 2,400 REULs on 31 December 2023. The impact assessment does not provide for the potential impact of this and does not sufficiently commit to provide an individual impact assessment for each piece of REUL they are looking to change or sunset. With only a year to review all the REUL and either amend or do nothing creates lots of challenges for businesses as well as the government. In addition, the RPC found that the impact assessment did not sufficiently address the impact which will be had for small and micro businesses. 

We will keep you informed on the progress of the Bill and whether it is passed into law, as this is set to be (if passed) some of the biggest employment right shake ups in the UK.

Government's response on flexible working law consultation in 2021

The Government have published its response on its Consultation on Making Flexible Working the Default which ran last winter. The consultation set out proposals to amend the right to request flexible working to better support employers and look to make flexible working the default.

The main takeaways following the consultation are listed below. Namely, the Government will:

  • Retain the current list of business reasons for rejecting flexible working requests.
  • Make requesting flexible working a day one right through secondary legislation.
  • Develop enhanced guidance on administering temporary requests for flexible working.
  • Launch a call for evidence on how informal or ad hoc flexible working arrangements works in practice.

The Government will also take forward the following measures, which require primary legislation:

  • Employer/employee consultation on available options.
  • Allowing employees to make two flexible working requests a year, where employers respond within two months.
  • Removing the requirement for employees to set out how their employer may deal with the effects of their request.

If all of these proposals are effected, employees will be given significantly greater rights, where they will largely expect employers to always try to accommodate what they want in terms of flexibility. The possibility of employers being required to process additional requests could be very laborious, particularly for some sectors and industries where there are multiple working patterns and rostering difficulties. Since no timeframe has been suggested to enact the primary legislation, we will keep a close eye on updates on flexible working and will keep you updated. Please see our article for more in-depth information on this.

The new rates for statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental and sick pay along with the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

The Department for Work and Pensions has released the new rates, which take effect on 2 April 2023, increasing the current rates by up to 10% compared with the current statutory entitlements. For instance:

  • Statutory sick pay will rise to £109.40 per week, up from £99.35 per week.
  • Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental and parental bereavement pay will increase to £172.48 per week, up from £156.66 per week.

However, the weekly earnings threshold a worker must meet to become eligible for statutory parental pay or statutory sick pay will remain at £123 per week.

In addition, the Government have announced the rates of the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage which will apply from 1 April 2023. The National Living Wage will increase to £10.42, up by 92p with all other rates detailed here.