Employment law update: laws on the horizon – July 2023

26th July 2023

UK employment law is an ever-changing landscape. Whilst this brings about opportunities for organisations and their staff to beneficially adapt and grow, it can also make it difficult for them to keep up to date with the frequent changes.

Several Bills are making their way through Parliament as we speak and case law developments are emerging frequently, all of which has the potential to change employment law as we know it.

Here we summarise some of these Bills and developments for the purposes of providing our readers with a head-start on important employment law changes.

Legal updates

  • The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 was passed on 24 May 2023, and is expected to come into force on 24 July 2023. This new law allows for regulations to be made which would offer increased protection in redundancy processes to pregnant employees and to employees returning from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.
  • The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 is expected to come into force on or after April 2024. The Act provides for the introduction of new rights and protections for carers of people with “long-term care needs”. This new law will give all employees, without any requirement for qualifying service, the right to take at least one week’s unpaid carer’s leave in any 12 month period to provide care for a dependant who has a long-term care need.
  • The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill is currently making its way through Parliament and is expected to be enacted in early 2024. This new legislation places a duty on employers to protect their employees against harassment and sexual harassment during their employment, from colleagues and third parties.
  • The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill is nearing the final approval stage in Parliament and is expected to be enacted in early 2024. This new law amends the flexible working rules by making it a day-one right for all employees, as well as introducing a requirement for employers to consult with their employees before rejecting a request.
  • After P&O Ferries caused uproar last year for firing 786 staff without due consultation, the Government have said that they will introduce a new Statutory Code to crack down on employers using controversial ‘fire and rehire’ tactics. The consultation on the draft Code closed in April, so watch this space.

Case law developments

  • United Taxis Ltd v (1) Comolly (2) Tidman

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decided in June that a taxi driver could not be both an employee of a taxi owner as well as a worker of a related taxi company in respect of performing the same set of duties, clarifying the UK legal position against ‘dual employment’.

  • Higgs v Farmor’s School

When a school administrator took to social media to allege that sex education lessons were “suppressing Christianity” due to covering subjects such as same sex relationships and gender identity, the tribunal ruled that her subsequent dismissal was not an act of discrimination against her religious belief. However, on appeal, it was found that the tribunal did not sufficiently consider whether the school’s reasoning for the dismissal was due to a manifestation of the Claimant’s religion, which would amount to discrimination, or a justified objection to that belief, which would not. The case was therefore sent back to the tribunal for further findings.

  • Miles v Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency

The EAT ruled that an employee could not claim for detriment and/ or dismissal for health and safety reasons where he resigned as a result of not wanting to return to work during the Covid-19 pandemic due to his kidney condition. Key to the EAT’s finding was the fact that there was a health and safety representative at his workplace, and the fact that his belief that he would be in ‘serious and imminent danger’ if he returned, was not considered reasonable.

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