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Employment Law in 2023 – What to expect

2023 is looking to be a huge year in employment law. In this article Steve Conlay looks at some of the biggest changes to expect in the forthcoming year and how you should prepare.

It has been somewhat a tumultuous year for the UK. With three Prime Ministers so far in 2022, the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the ongoing fallout from Brexit and the war in Ukraine affecting everything from food prices to the price of petrol, it somewhat of a relief to see the back of the year.

Now, the optimist in me would love to say that 2023 can only improve, however with a “winter of discontent” bringing public and private sector strikes (good luck getting away anywhere over Christmas) and a looming recession all but confirmed, 2023 may be another difficult year for the UK.

And all of this is before we even turn our attention to the statutory changes employment law will be bringing us in 2023, some of which is enough to make even the most loyal of employment law geeks reaching for the brandy under the Christmas tree.

So let’s have a look at some of the major changes to employment law coming our way in 2023 (and possibly beyond).

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

This is the big one for 2023. This bill will essentially abolish remaining EU law as of the “sunset” date of 31 December 2023 unless it is specifically retained by the UK Parliament during the year.

This will likely be an opportunity for Government to bring changes to holiday pay, TUPE, the rights of agency workers, part time and fixed term workers and general employment rights under the Working Time Regulations.

It has been described by the media as the “flame to start the bonfire of EU rights”. How far Government will go in diluting workers rights will await to be seen, however expect the unions and the working population to be further aggrieved come the end of 2023.

Increase in Annual Rates

Touted as the largest increase to the National Living Wage since its introduction in 2016 and “a much-needed pay increase to millions of low-paid workers across the UK” the wages of many low paid workers will increase in April 2023.

  Rate from April 2023 Current rate (April 2022 to March 2023) Increase
National Living Wage £10.42 £9.50 9.7%
21-22 Year Old Rate £10.18 £9.18 10.9%
18-20 Year Old Rate £7.49 £6.83 9.7%
16 - 17 Year Old Rate £5.28 £4.81 9.7%
Apprentice Rate £5.28 £4.81 9.7%
Accommodation Offset £9.10 £8.70 4.6%

In addition, the current rates for family friendly related pay such as statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave pay will increase to £172.48 per week. SSP will also increase to £109.40 per week.

Carers Leave Bill

Whilst we are still awaiting exact details of this bill, we are expecting Government to announce the right for employees who are providing care, or who are arranging care for family members or friends, to have up to 1-week unpaid leave per year. This will be a “day 1 right” and employees will be protected from dismissal or detriment due to taking this leave from the start of their employment.

Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill

This bill is likely to be passed in the new year and will extend the protection given to pregnant employees. Currently employees are given greater protection from redundancy from the time they start maternity leave; in that they are given priority for any suitable alternative roles over individuals who are not on maternity leave.

Once the bill becomes law, it is proposed that employees will gain such rights much earlier, notably from the date they announce their pregnancy, until a period lasting 18 months following the date the maternity leave starts (6 months following their return if the employee takes the full 12 month maternity leave entitlement).

The bill still needs to go through a number of stages in both Houses (House of Parliament and House of Lords), however as it stands, the protection will also extend to adoption leave and shared parental leave.   

Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill

The final major change expected to be announced in 2023 is the Neonatal Care Bill.

The Bill will see employees receive up to 12 weeks leave (and pay, subject to qualifying criteria) for those responsible for care of a child that is receiving neonatal care. Final details are still to be confirmed, and again the Bill is still going through the Houses so specifics may change, however as it stands, the Bill will apply to parents whose babies who are admitted into hospital up to the age of 28 days, and who have a continuous stay in hospital of 7 full days or more. This will be a day 1 right and will therefore apply to all employees.

Personally, I believe that the Bill will spend quite a while going through the Houses and, together with the changes required to payroll systems, this may slip to 2024.

The above proposed changes come with the huge caveat that it depends on which Government we have in place by the time you read this update. What is clear is that 2023 promises to be another difficult year for individuals and businesses alike. Maybe 2024 will be better……

Keep an eye on our free monthly employment law bulletins where we will keep you up to date on all the upcoming changes to employment law throughout the year. 

These notes have been prepared for the purpose of articles only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.


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