2023 looks set to be a year of significant change for HR professionals with the progression of new and reformed laws proposed and backed last year. Here are some of the key legislative/policy developments to watch out for:

Flexible working – Changes to the statutory flexible working regime are expected. The new rules will extend the right to request flexible working to all employees from day one of employment. Employees will be allowed to make two requests in a 12-month period (rather than the current limit of one) and employers will have less time to respond (two months, not three). For more information, see our previous Employment Law Watch blog.  

Carer’s leave – A new statutory right for carers to take a week’s unpaid leave per year is proposed. The leave is intended to be used to take planned time off (rather than emergency leave) to undertake caring responsibilities.   

Neonatal leave and pay – A new statutory leave is proposed which will allow parents of sick or premature babies to take up to 12 weeks’ paid leave on top of any maternity or paternity leave entitlement. The leave is proposed to be a day one right for new hires and to apply to those parents whose babies need to be in hospital in the first 28 days post birth with continuous stays of seven days or more. 

Extension of redundancy protection rules during pregnancy/maternity – Significant enhancements to the protection afforded new/expectant mothers and parents from redundancy dismissal are expected to go ahead. Under the reforms, the current protection (priority for suitable alternative employment over other employees at risk of redundancy) is expected to cover the period of maternity leave and last until six months after return from leave. Similar rules are intended to apply after return from adoption or shared parental leave. 

Harassment – New proposals on harassment would revive the concept of employer’s liability for harassment of employees/workers at work by a third party and introduce a new duty on employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of their employees, with an uplift on compensation payable where an employer has breached that duty.

EU Retained Law – The EU Retained Law Bill (if enacted) would automatically repeal all retained EU law with effect from 31 December 2023 (but with scope to delay that date of repeal to 23 June 2026) unless specific legislation is introduced to retain it. It would also remove the principle of the supremacy of EU law. This could impact a number of employment rights derived from the EU including TUPE, paid annual leave, working time rest breaks and limits on hours, discrimination and equal pay, and agency, part time and fixed term worker protections.  

Fire and Rehire –The UK government intends to publish a draft Statutory Code of Practice on dismissal and re-engagement in the “near future” but no firm date or details have been given. It is expected that Employment Tribunals will have the power to apply an uplift of up to 25% of an employee’s compensation where the Code applies, and the employer has unreasonably failed to follow it. For more information, see our previous Employment Law Watch blog.

Senior Managers & Certification Regime (SM&CR) – As part of the UK government’s strategy for boosting growth, a review of the SM&CR will be undertaken in Q1 2023. The government will launch a Call for Evidence on the legislative framework introduced in the wake of the 2007/2008 global financial crisis, collating views on the regime’s effectiveness, scope and proportionality, and ways in which it could be improved or reformed. The FCA and PRA will be looking separately at the regulatory framework.

The Reed Smith team will be tracking these developments and providing updates in its monthly update. Visit Reedsmith.com to subscribe to our updates and other marketing materials.