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5 minute read • published in partnership with Irwin Mitchell

Employment law changes 2023: guide for manufacturing businesses

Although it looks as though the government has abandoned the long awaited Employment Bill, that doesn’t mean 2023 is likely to be a quiet year for the manufacturing sector when it comes to employment law. Glenn Hayes, partner at Irwin Mitchell, and sector specialist explains.

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

Under the European Union Withdrawal Act most UK laws in existence on or before 31 December 2020 were preserved.

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill will repeal all EU derived laws by the end of 2023 (although the government will be able to extend that deadline to 2026). It will then be able to make sweeping changes to established laws in respect of working time and holidays, discrimination, TUPE, agency workers, part-time workers, fixed-term employees and new parents.

The government will have to legislate to re-introduce (or adapt) the EU laws it wants keep before that very tight deadline. It doesn’t look as though employment protections are a priority for the government and it’s possible that important rights will fall off the statute books without anything in place to replace them. This will create uncertainty and could result in an increase in staff dissatisfaction, industrial action and employment claims Read more.

Irwin Mitchell has put a guide together to help manufacturers navigate the employment law changes that could affect manufacturers in 2023 / Picture: Getty/iStock

New law to limit disruption caused by strikes

The government has introduced new legislation which will require unions to take steps to ensure that certain members of staff don’t take part in strike action in order to meet minimum service levels. The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill applies to a wide range of sectors: education, transport, health, fire and rescue, nuclear and border security.

An employer facing a strike will be able to serve a ‘work notice’ on the union identifying the employees that it needs to meet the service levels required. Once notice has been given, the union is under a duty to take all reasonable steps to ‘ensure that all members of the union who are identified in the work notice comply with it and continue to work. Any union that doesn’t comply will lose its immunity from being sued and, employees who refuse to turn up to work in breach of the notice can be fairly dismissed. Read more

New protection against redundancy

Pregnant women and new parents will receive additional protection from being made redundant under the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill.

Under current rules, before making an employee on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave redundant, employers are obliged to offer them a suitable alternative vacancy (where one exists) in priority to anyone else who is provisionally selected for redundancy.

The new Bill will extend protection so that it applies to pregnant women before they start maternity leave and for six months after they return to work. It will also protect new parents returning to work from adoption or shared parental leave. Read more.

Carers leave

The Carers Leave Bill will introduce one week’s unpaid leave to help employees with long-term caring responsibilities balance these with their paid work. It will be a “day one” right and leave can be taken in one single block or on individual days. Read more.

Picture: Getty/iStock

New rules on combating workplace harassment

The government has ratified the International Labour Organisation’s Violence and Harassment Convention which comes into effect on 7 March 2023. It has agreed to implement laws to ‘respect, promote and realize the right of everyone to … work free from violence and harassment’ – including third party harassment.

The ILO has published a practical guide for employers on how to prevent violence and harassment at work to help them to address, prevent and respond to violence and harassment at work.

Last year, the government said that it would introduce a new duty on employers to play an active role in preventing workplace sexual harassment. It has recently confirmed that it will support a private members bill – Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill – which will:
Reintroduce liability for harassment caused by third parties
Put employers under an active duty to prevent sexual harassment
Allow tribunals to increase compensation by up to 25% where staff have been subjected to sexual harassment

Employers will be able to avoid liability if they can show that they took all reasonable steps to prevent harassment. Once in force, employers will have to update their diversity and inclusion policies, consider what additional steps they need to take to prevent sexual harassment and ensure that the training they provide to their staff complies with the new law. Read more.

Changes to rules on flexible working

The government has announced that it will make changes to the right to ask for flexible working. It will become a “day one” right, employees will be able to make up to two requests each year and the employer must deal with the application (and any appeal) within two months. Employers will still be able to turn down requests if they have a business reason for doing so on the same grounds as currently exist. Read more.

Extra bank holiday

To celebrate the coronation of the King, there is an additional bank holiday on Monday 8 May 2023. Your staff will only be able to take the day off if their contract permits this, your organisation closes on that day or they ask to take the day off as holiday. To find out if your contractual clauses allow your staff to take the day off click here.

 National living wage and national minimum wage

There are some hefty wage increases employers will need to factor in. From April 2023, the following apply:
Rate for people aged 23 and over – £10.42 per hour [a 9.7% uplift to the current rate of £9.50]
Rate for 21-22 year olds – £10.18 an hour [a 10.9% uplift to the current rate of £9.18]
Rate for 18-20 year olds – £7.49 an hour [a 9.7% uplift to the current rate of £6.83]
Rate for 16-17 year olds – £5.28 an hour [a 9.7% uplift to the current rate of £4.81]
Apprentice rate – £5.28 an hour [a 9.7% uplift to the current rate of £4.81]
Accommodation offset – £9.10 [a 4.6% uplift to the current rate of £8.70]

Increase in employment related statutory rates

From April 2023 the rates for:
Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay, Statutory Shared Parental Pay, Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay and Maternity Allowance will all increase from £156.66 to £172.48 per week
Statutory Sick Pay will increase from £99.35 to £109.40 per week