2023 Developments in Employment Law

30 Aug 2023
Marina Vincent


Employment legislation in 2023 has had an emphasis on family and work life balance, although the enacted laws will not apply immediately.

There are Bills in the pipeline to introduce further provisions.  There is new legislation relating to tips and gratuities and protecting employees from harassment by third parties.  There has also been a consultation regarding restrictive covenants.

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act provides for employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave if a new-born baby is admitted to neonatal care.  This will come into force in April 2025.  The Carer’s Leave Act provides for workers with caring responsibilities to take up to one week of unpaid leave per annum.  This will come into force some time in 2024.

Further protection from redundancy will be provided to pregnant employees by the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family) Leave Act.  Employees will be protected from redundancy from when they report their pregnancy to their employer until 18 months after birth, so usually 6 months post their date to return to work.  There is no date yet for this legislation to come into force.

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act, expected to come into force in 2024, allows employees to make two flexible working requests in a twelve month period, rather than the current one request in twelve months.  Employers will be required to deal with a request within two months of receiving it.

There is a Bill to introduce a duty to protect employees from harassment by third parties and impose a duty to take steps to prevent sexual harassment.  There are also Bills providing paid leave to employees who have experienced miscarriage and paid time off for those needing to attend fertility treatment appointments.

With regard to gratuities and tips, the Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act will come into force in 2024 and provides for tips, gratuities and service charges to be given in full, and allocated fairly, to staff, both employed and agency workers.  The Government is drafting a Code of Practice which is expected to be published before the end of 2023.  The provisions will be enforceable through the Employment Tribunal and employers will be expected to have policies and procedures in place.

Restrictive covenants in employment contracts can prevent employees from moving to a competing employer, and “poaching” clients, staff etc.  They can be difficult provisions to enforce, and enforcement is often a very expensive exercise.  Currently the terms of restrictive covenants are a matter for the parties to the contract, but in May 2023 the government announced that it intends to introduce legislation to limit the length of non-complete restrictions to three months post-employment.  There is no intention to impose any limits on non-solicitation or confidentiality clauses.  The Government’s intention is to boost innovation and support economic recovery by removing barriers created by non-compete restrictions.  Whilst the Government has consulted on this, there is currently no implementation date.

For more information, please contact Marina Vincent at marina.vincent@haroldbenjamin.com