Employment Law E-Bulletin – Issue 84

  • Update: Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022-23
  • Autumn Statement reveals new National Minimum Wage rates for April 2023
  • Expansions in flexible working to support staff through menopause?
  • FIFA World Cup – considerations for employers

Regulatory Impact Assessment for Retained EU Law Bill rated not fit for purpose

Further to last month’s bulletin, the Retained EU Law Bill has been in the news again. As it stands, the Bill will automatically repeal all retained EU law on the sunset date of 31 December 2023, unless there is specific legislation introduced to retain it.

A Bill does not automatically become law until it has passed through its first reading, second reading, the Committee stage, Report stage, and then its third reading. It must be approved by both the House of Commons and House of Lords before it proceeds to Royal Assent and becomes an Act of Parliament.

At the end of October 2022, the House of Commons approved the second reading of the Bill, which allowed it to proceed to the Committee stage. The Committee began its line-by-line consideration of the Bill on 22 November 2022.

Running sequentially to the House of Commons, the Regulatory Policy Committee published their formal opinion on the governments Regulatory Impact Assessment for the Bill; they rated it as ‘not fit for purpose.’ The main concern surrounded the lack of consideration of the impact the Bill will have on businesses across the UK, particularly small and microbusinesses.

The SNP are set to table at least 50 amendments, including a proposal to extend the sunset date for retained EU law to 2026. Labour MP Stella Creasy discussed the question of a ‘sunrise clause’ rather than a sunset clause. This would ensure that all retained EU law would remain, unless or until it is specifically amended or repealed.

It would seem that the Bill is being attacked from all angles and rightly so… It will be interesting to see how much of the Bill survives the legislative process without amendment.

2022 Autumn Statement – National Minimum Wage increases revealed

On 17 November 2022, the Autumn Statement was delivered by Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor of the Exchequer, which announced that the government has accepted the Low Pay Commission’s proposed increased to the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates from April 2023.

The National Living Wage, which applies to workers aged 23 and over will increase to £10.42 per hour, which is expected to benefit over 2 million workers across the UK.

Expansions in flexible working to support staff through menopause?

We have started to see cases involving menopause as a disability make their way through the Tribunals in the last 2 years and it has become a widely discussed topic.

This month the NHS launching the first national guidance on menopause, which will allow staff who are experiencing the effects of menopause to work flexibly. This could involve lighter duties, flexible working patterns or working from home if it is possible to do so in their role.

The Chief Executive of NHS has called on other employers to implement similar guidance to end the stigma surrounding menopause and stop employees from ‘suffering in silence.’

The guidance has been intentionally designed to be transferable to other workplaces, and provides advice to managers on how they can create a more open and inclusive environment in order to staff to access support if they need it.

The NHS is one of the biggest employers for women in the country, with over 1 million female employees. Will more employers across the UK follow suit and adopt the NHS’s approach?

FIFA World Cup 2022

The World Cup kicked off on 20 November 2022 and will finish on 18 December 2022. As we enter the last 16, excitement is starting build and attendance in the office can start to dwindle.

Employers may want to consider a flexible approach during the World Cup in order to boost morale. This may extend to staff watching the match in the workplace, granting requests to work from home or allowing staff to work more flexibly around matches, for example allowing them to start earlier and finish earlier or taking a longer lunch break.

Employers are under no obligation to do any of these things; it is at their sole discretion and any flexibility needs to be reviewed in line with the needs of the business. We have however found from other sporting events that a degree of flexibility has reduced unauthorised absences, lateness and poor productivity.

It is important to note that any level of flexibility that is offered by an employer must be applied equally and employers should be mindful that some of their employees may support different countries in the World Cup or have zero interest.

Whatever is decided should be communicated clearly, to ensure staff know exactly where they stand. For example, an extended lunch break does not mean that the zero tolerance policy of alcohol in the workplace has ceased. Any staff who abuse any form of flexibility that is offered during the World Cup or otherwise, should be dealt with under Company policy.

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