December 2022 employment news round-up
13 December 2022
Flexible working: a ‘day one’ right
The Government published a consultation in September 2021, entitled ‘Making flexible working the default’, in which it proposed to make the right to request flexible working a ‘day one’ right for employees.
A response to the consultation has now been published. It confirms that the following changes will be made to the current statutory procedure for making a statutory flexible working request:
- It will become a ‘day one’ right for employees to make a flexible working request, removing the current qualifying period of 26 weeks’ service.
- Employees will be allowed to make two flexible working requests in a 12 month period (rather than just one, as at present), and employers must provide a response within two months (rather than three).
- Employees will no longer be required to set out in their request how the employer might deal with the effects of granting the request.
- The existing eight statutory business reasons for refusing a flexible working request will remain unchanged.
- Employers will be required to hold a consultation meeting with the employee to explore the available options before making a decision whether or not to agree to their flexible working request.
- Enhanced guidance will be published on making and dealing with temporary requests for flexible working, and a ‘call for evidence’ will be issued on how informal flexibility works in practice, for example to facilitate attendance at medical appointments.
To introduce these amendments, the Government has committed to supporting a Private Member’s Bill that is currently going through Parliament: the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill. Secondary legislation will also be required, which has not yet been published. There is currently no confirmed timeframe for these changes to take effect.
The changes fall short of making flexible working the ‘default’ for employees, but will make it easier for employees to make a request. The Government makes it clear in its press release that while it does not want to mandate flexible working, it encourages employers and employees to hold “constructive and open-minded conversations about flexible working and find arrangements that work for each side”.
Employers will need to review their internal policies and procedures, to reflect the changes to the statutory process for making a flexible working request. It is of course open to employers to make these changes in advance of the statutory reforms coming into force.
Statutory pay rate increases
The Government has published the proposed annual increases to the rates of various statutory payments and benefits.
With effect from April 2023 (date to be confirmed), the following weekly rates will apply:
|Current rate||Rate from April 2023|
|Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)||£99.35||£109.40|
|Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental and parental bereavement pay|
These new rates represent an increase of 10.1% on the current rates for 2022/23. The new rates for the National Minimum Wage were previously announced as part of the Autumn Statement (see last month’s news round-up).
The Ministry of Justice has published the quarterly tribunal statistics for July to September 2022, which show an overall decrease in the number of employment tribunal claims compared to the same period last year.
A total of 18,000 employment tribunal claims were received in this period, representing a decrease of 19%. However, this total figure masks a 6% increase in single claims, with most of the overall decrease due to a 32% drop in multiple claims (group claims against a single employer). Single claims disposals (including claims heard by a tribunal) have decreased since last year, meaning that the outstanding caseload for tribunals has continued to rise.
The report also details compensation and costs awards for both the employment tribunals and EAT for 2021/2022. The mean award of compensation for unfair dismissal was £13,541, up from £12,080 in the previous year. The maximum compensation award was £228,117 for a race discrimination claim (the mean award was £24,630). The mean award in claims for disability discrimination was £26,172.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at December 2022.