Liz Stevens provides a ‘quick fire’ overview of employment news items for July 2022
Private Members’ Bills
The Government has confirmed that it will be supporting two Private Members’ Bills, which will bring into effect two of the provisions that had been expected to be included in a new Employment Bill.
The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill will ensure that all tips go to workers and make it unlawful for businesses to retain service charges. A statutory Code of Practice will provide businesses and staff with advice on how tips should be distributed, and workers will have a new right to request more information about an employer’s tipping record.
The Government had previously confirmed its intention to introduce new legislation on tips and gratuities, in its response to a 2016 consultation published in October 2021. It is estimated that the new rules will benefit over two million workers in the hospitality, leisure and services sectors. There is no confirmed date for the measures provided under the Bill to take effect.
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill will allow parents to each take up to 12 weeks of additional paid leave to care for a baby requiring neonatal care, on top of their rights to maternity and paternity leave. The new right to leave will apply to parents of babies admitted to hospital up to the age of 28 days, and who have a continuous stay in hospital of seven days or more.
The Government published a response to its consultation on neonatal care leave in March 2020 and it was expected to include provision for the leave in the anticipated Employment Bill. The right to take leave will apply from an employee’s first day of employment, and the leave will be paid at the statutory rate if the employee has at least 26 weeks of service. As with the tips Bill, there is no confirmed date for the right to take neonatal care leave to come into effect.
In response to questions in Parliament about the failure to include an Employment Bill in the May 2022 Queen’s Speech, government ministers had suggested that some of the proposed measures could be introduced via alternative legislative mechanisms. It appears that these two Private Members Bills are one of the alternative mechanisms, and as they are both being backed by the Government they are likely to be enacted.
Menopause and the workplace: government response
The Government has published a response to the independent report, Menopause and the Workplace: How to enable fulfilling working lives, which was published in November 2021.
It has responded to each of the 10 recommendations made in the report, including the following of note for employers:
- The first Women’s Health Ambassador has already been appointed (Dame Lesley Regan), who will be invited to join the UK Menopause Taskforce as a permanent member. The Minister for Employment will also appoint one or more Menopause Employment Champions.
- The Government does not consider that further changes to the Equality Act 2010 are required and will not enact section 14, which would provide for claims based on multiple protected characteristics.
- The Government proposes to “increase the reach of menopause communications” to raise awareness amongst employers and provide links to advice, guidance and best practice case studies. It will encourage employers to provide support to menopausal women through employee assistance programmes and by appointing workplace Menopause Champions.
For more information, see the Government’s full response.
Using agency workers during strike action
In last month’s update we reported on the Government’s plans to remove the restrictions preventing agency staff from covering for workers who are striking.
On 21 July 2022 the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2022 came into force, revoking regulation 7 of the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations 2003. This means that employment businesses are no longer prevented from supplying an employer with temporary (agency) workers, to perform duties normally performed by a worker who is on strike or taking industrial action, or the duties normally performed by any other worker who has been assigned to cover a striking worker. Prior to 21 July, supplying agency workers for this purpose was a criminal offence.
Separate legislation also took effect on 21 July to increase the limits on the maximum damages award which may be made against a trade union where industrial action is found to be unlawful. The new limits vary according to the number of union members, up to a maximum of £1 million for unions with 100,000 or more members.
According to the Government announcement, these measures have been introduced ‘at speed’ due to the threat of industrial action disrupting crucial public services. Employers will be expected to engage temporary workers with the necessary skills and qualifications in order to comply with their broader health and safety obligations.
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 July 2022.