In November 2022, after the change of Prime Minister in the UK, we reported on a number of equality measures, introduced by way of Private Members’ Bills, for which the Government had expressed its support in the absence of any plan to bring forward an Employment Bill of its own.
How are these measures faring as they pass through Parliament?
Third party harassment
The Government has been backing a Private Members’ Bill, the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill 2022-23, that would have reintroduced protection for workers against harassment by third parties, by making their employers liable in specified circumstances and placed an obligation on employers to put protective measures in place. The Bill has however been subjected to a number of amendments in the House of Lords that have cast doubt on whether there will be sufficient Parliamentary time for the Bill to become law in 2023. Doubt has also been cast on whether the Government does in fact still support the measures in the Bill. Watch this space.
Extending redundancy protection for women and new parents
This measure, the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill 2022-23, provides improved protection for individuals from redundancy during or after pregnancy or after periods of maternity, adoption or shared parental leave. It is progressing through the House of Lords and is seemingly still backed by the Government. No changes were put forward at the House of Lords Committee stage, on 17 April 2023 and it will now go directly to a third reading. There is no clear timetable for the Bill to become law however.
The Carer’s Leave Bill 2022-23 provides for unpaid leave for employees with caring responsibilities. Like the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill it still has Government support and it will now go directly to a third reading after no changes were put forward for the committee stage on 19 April 2023. There is no clear timetable or the Bill to become law however.
Neonatal care leave and pay
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill 2022-23 makes provision about leave and pay for employees with responsibility for children receiving neonatal care. The Bill had its committee stage in the House of Lords on 25 April 2023 and its third reading is still to be scheduled.
On 8 November 2022, in response to a written question, the Government stated that the work to implement neonatal care leave and pay, which will include changes to HMRC systems, sufficient notice for employers and payroll providers to update their pay systems, and extensive secondary legislation and guidance, is estimated to take around 18 months following Royal Assent although discussions are taking place to see whether it is possible to reduce this timeline.
Employment Allocation of Tips Bill
The Employment Allocation of Tips Bill 2022-23 is a bill to ensure that tips, gratuities and service charges paid by customers are allocated to workers. The Bill passed its third reading on 21 April 2023. It is expected to come into force no earlier than one year after receiving Royal Assent. There are no further steps required in the Parliamentary process before Royal Assent, but no date has yet been set.
As regards the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, which aims to significantly change the content and operation of retained EU law, with potentially wide-ranging implications for employment rights, the Bills Report stage in the House of Lords, which was due to take place on 19 April, has been postponed to a ‘date to be announced’.
It is difficult to know what, if anything, to read into this delay. Various press reports have suggested that the Bill may not become law, or may be modified significantly. Meanwhile it has also been reported that the Department for Business and Trade has published a response to a letter by the Rt Hon Caroline Nokes MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, requesting further explanation about the Retained EU Law Bill’s effect on equality rights and protections. The response by the Rt Hon Kemi Badenoch MP, Minister for Women & Equalities, confirms that the Retained EU Law Bill does not intend to undermine equality rights and protections, employment rights or maternity rights in the UK.
If you are already in process of implementing policies in these areas and would like advice on how the law may affect you, or would like further details of what is being proposed, please get in touch with the authors below.
For further information, please contact:
Meriel Schindler, Partner, Withersworldwide