Forthcoming employment law changes

In addition to the recently announced employment law changes, the following changes in employment law are due to be confirmed over the coming months. (Source: XpertHR)

Emergency volunteering leave introduced (TBC)

The Coronavirus Act 2020 introduces the right for workers to take up to four weeks of leave from work to carry out emergency volunteering in the health and social care sector during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Workers can take emergency volunteering leave once in each 16-week volunteering period designated by the government.

Increase to the length of time required for continuity of employment to be broken (TBC)

The time required to break a period of continuous service extends from one week to four weeks. Employees can have a gap of up to four weeks in their service with an employer without it affecting their entitlement to statutory employment rights. The government’s Good work plan states that the extension of time will make it easier for employees who work intermittently over a period of time for the same employer to access their rights.

New legislation to ensure that tips and gratuities go to staff (TBC)

The government intends to introduce legislation to prevent employers from taking tips and gratuities that should go to staff. The government’s announcement states that the changes are to prevent ‘poor tipping practices, including excessive deductions being made from tips left by customers’ and that it will introduce the legislation ‘at the earliest opportunity’.

New right for workers to request a more stable contract (TBC)

All workers will have the right to request a more predictable and stable contractual working pattern after 26 weeks’ continuous service. The new right was announced in the government’s Good work plan on 17 December 2018. It is intended to benefit workers who have irregular hours, for example, under a zero-hours contract, but who would like more certainty on the number of hours they work and/or the days on which they work.

New check-off arrangements take effect (TBC)

The draft Trade Union (Deduction of Union Subscriptions from Wages in the Public Sector) Regulations 2017 implement new arrangements for check-off for public sector employers. Where a contract of employment or collective agreement contains arrangements for check-off, the arrangement can continue only where the trade union meets the administrative cost in respect of making the deductions and workers have the option to pay their trade union subscriptions by other means.

New pensions dashboard service introduced (TBC)

The Pension Schemes Bill, introduced in the Queen’s speech on 14 October 2019, allows individuals, or persons appointed by them, access to online information about their pension, including state, personal and occupational pensions, via a pensions dashboard service, to help them plan for retirement.

Whistleblowers protected when applying for jobs in children’s social care sector (TBC)

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 includes a provision that enables regulations to be made to provide protection for applicants when applying for a role that relates to the children’s social care functions of a local authority. The purpose of this provision is to ensure that applicants are not discriminated against because they have previously made a protected disclosure.

Public-sector exit payments become repayable (TBC)

Section 154 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 provides for regulations to be made to require the repayment of exit payments made to public sector workers.

The draft Repayment of Public Sector Exit Payments Regulations 2016 provide that employees in the public sector with annual earnings of £80,000 or more must repay exit payments where they return to work in the public sector within one year of leaving.

Income tax personal allowance linked to national minimum wage (TBC

Any increase in the income tax personal allowance will take into account national minimum wage increases to ensure that workers on the national minimum wage working up to 30 hours per week do not pay income tax.

Technical amendments to employment law following the UK’s exit from the EU take effect (TBC)

The government introduces legislation to ensure that employment laws continue to operate effectively at the end of the transition (implementation) period on 31 December 2020, which is now in place following the UK’s exit from the EU. The legislation makes minor technical changes, including amending and removing inappropriate language and references.

Public-sector exit payments capped (TBC)

Section 154 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 provides for regulations to be made to require the repayment of exit payments made to public sector workers.

The draft Repayment of Public Sector Exit Payments Regulations 2016 provide that employees in the public sector with annual earnings of £80,000 or more must repay exit payments where they return to work in the public sector within one year of leaving.