What’s new in Employment Law

by Jon Taylor

30 June 2023

Our Employment team have pulled together recent news and updates to help you and your business keep up to date, as well as the legal issues to watch out for over the coming months, within the Employment sector.

Home office announce failure to prevent fraud offence

In April 2023, the Home Office has confirmed that a failure to prevent fraud offence will be introduced in the forthcoming Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act.

The offence will apply to organisations when a specified fraud offence is committed by an employee or agent, for the organisation’s benefit, and the organisation did not have reasonable fraud prevention procedures in place.

The offence will only apply to organisations meeting two out of three of the following criteria: more than 250 employees; more than £36 million turnover; and more than £18 million in total assets.

Organisations will be able to avoid prosecution if they have reasonable procedures in place to prevent fraud. The government will be under a statutory duty to publish guidance to set out reasonable fraud prevention procedures before the offence comes into force.

“Right to disconnect” likely to be included in Labour Party manifesto

In an interview with the Financial Times in May 2023, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Angela Rayner, has said that the “right to disconnect” would likely be in the party’s manifesto for the next general election. The proposal would restrict employers from contacting workers by phone or email outside of working hours. If the party comes to power, the ways in which other countries have implemented similar legislation will be considered. France, for example, has had a right to disconnect since 2017 for companies with more than 50 staff and the Scottish government has also committed to discussions on establishing the right for its employees.

Government publishes response to consultation on reform of non-compete clauses in employment contracts and impact assessment for proposed reform

Also in May, the government published its response to the consultation on reform of non-compete clauses in employment contracts. The government has confirmed that it intends to introduce a statutory cap on non-compete clauses in employment and worker contracts so that the duration of the non-compete can be no longer than three months.

Bills on neonatal leave and pay, carers’ leave and extended redundancy protection receive Royal Assent

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill, Carer’s Leave Bill and Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill received Royal Assent on 24 May 2023, becoming the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023, Carer’s Leave Act 2023 and Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023.

In response to written questions on the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill on 22 May 2023, Kevin Hollinrake MP stated that the new neonatal leave and pay entitlements are expected to be delivered in April 2025, with approximately seven statutory instruments to be laid “in due course”.

A date for implementation of the provisions of the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 is yet to be announced, with the key provisions to come into force on a day or days to be specified in regulations which will be laid “in due course”. It has been reported that this date will not be before April 2024.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 will come into force at the end of the period of two months beginning with the day on which the Act was passed. The version of the Bill published on 6 February 2023 anticipates that the Secretary of State will, by regulations, make provision to implement the new redundancy protections.

New DEI benefits at Currys include gender reassignment leave

In June, tech retailer Currys have announced a suite of new benefits to support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). The benefits extend annual leave for employees undergoing gender reassignment surgery, IVF, pregnancy loss or whose baby is born prematurely. Those undergoing gender reassignment will be entitled to six additional weeks’ paid leave which can be used for appointment, surgery and recovery.

The aim is that the financial stability and peace of mind gained through job security will aid trans employees through the gender reassignment process. Employees going through IVF, and their partners, will be able to access paid leave for six appointments per fertility treatment. If employees have a baby born prematurely, maternity leave will be extended by the number of days the baby was born before the 37th week of pregnancy and two weeks of compassionate leave will be extended to partners. Employees who experience pregnancy loss, including via a surrogate, will receive two weeks’ paid leave.

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