A quick round-up of recent employment law developments
Family rights legislation receives Royal Assent
A number of bills dealing with family-friendly rights recently received Royal Assent and have become Acts of Parliament.
- The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 will allow parents to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave each, in addition to other leave entitlements such as maternity and paternity leave, so that they can spend more time with their baby who, having been born prematurely or sick, is receiving neonatal care in a hospital or other agreed care setting. Neonatal care leave will be available to employees from their first day at work. It will apply to parents of babies who are admitted into hospital up to the age of 28 days, and who have a continuous stay in hospital of seven full days or more. The entitlements are expected to be delivered in April 2025, with approximately seven statutory instruments to be laid “in due course”.
- The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 will introduce a new and flexible entitlement of one week’s unpaid leave per year for employees who are providing or arranging care. It will be available to eligible employees from the first day of their employment. They will be able to take the leave flexibly to suit their caring responsibilities and will not need to provide evidence of how the leave is used or whom it will be used for. Employees taking their carer’s leave entitlement will be subject to the same employment protections that are associated with other forms of family-related leave, meaning they will be protected from dismissal or any detriment as a result of having taken time off. A date for implementation of the provisions of the Act 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. It will allow the extension of existing redundancy protections while on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave to also cover pregnancy and a period of time after a new parent has returned to work. The detail will be provided by any regulations made, although in a consultation response in July 2019, the Government committed to extending redundancy protection to apply from the date an employee notifies the employer of her pregnancy until six months after the end of leave.
Employers “named and shamed” for minimum wage breaches
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published a list of 191 employers who failed to pay £2.1 million to over 34,000 workers between 2011 and 2018. The largest underpayment was by John Lewis, which failed to pay £941,355.67 to 19,392 workers. A number of other household names also appeared in the list, including The Body Shop, Pret A Manger and several football clubs.
BEIS confirmed that the employers on the list have since paid back what they owed and were fined £3.2 million. Not all of the breaches were intentional – the reasons for underpayment by employers in this list included incorrect deductions (including for uniforms and expenses), failing to pay workers for time worked (including overtime), and paying the incorrect apprenticeship rate – but it is a stark reminder to employers to ensure they comply with the law.
Government publishes response on ethnicity pay gap reporting
The Government has published its response to the 2018 consultation on mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting, confirming that it will not be legislating to make ethnicity pay gap reporting mandatory as “while ethnicity pay gap reporting can be a valuable tool to assist employers, it may not always be the most appropriate mechanism for every type of employer”. Instead, employers are referred to the guidance on voluntary reporting published in April 2023.
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