Private Members’ Bills making their way through Parliament

Despite speculation that the May 2022 Queen’s Speech would announce the long-awaited Employment Bill, this did not occur. This would normally be the opportunity for the Government to announces any significant new rules to be introduced into law. Instead of this, individual MPs have been putting forward proposed legislation via Private Members’ Bills to be debated and scrutinised by Parliament. If successful, these will become new laws.

The summary below details the main bills which are currently being debated in Parliament. Whilst none have yet been ratified, it looks very likely that they will come into law, although it is not possible to say when.

The Carer’s Leave Bill 

This introduces a new right to unpaid carer’s leave, from day one of employment, to allow eligible employees with caring responsibilities to take up to one week off work (five working days) per year. The leave can be taken flexibly, either in individual days or half-days, up to a block of one week.

Employees must be unpaid carers for someone with a long-term care need. For example, a person with a long-term illness or injury covered as a disability under the Equality Act, or issues relating to old age and terminal illness.

The relationship between the employee and this person will follow what is already in place for the right to time off for dependants: a spouse or civil partner, child, parent, person who lives in the same household (but is not a tenant, lodger or boarder) or person who relies on them for care (ie an elderly neighbour).

It is expected that employers will have limited scope for refusing requests.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill 

Under current rules, before making an employee on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave redundant, employers are obliged to offer them a suitable alternative vacancy (where one exists).

This Bill will bring in additional protection from redundancy to cover the periods during pregnancy and after periods of maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

The protections will apply from when a woman tells her employer she is pregnant until 18 months after the birth, ensuring protection from the return from leave. The 18-month window will also apply to adoption and shared parental leave.

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill

This will make employers liable for harassment of their employees by third parties where they fail to take all reasonable steps to prevent it. It will also introduce a duty for employers to proactively prevent sexual harassment. This means that employers will have to take a proactive stance on the subjects of sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination in the workplace.

The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Bill

Tips will need to be paid to employees, by the end of the month following the month the tip was given. Agency workers will benefit in the same way as salaried staff and all workers will be able to raise a tribunal claim if they were unfairly allocated tips or not paid them on time. Compensation will be up to £5000 if made within 12 months.

Employers will need to have a written tips policy, available to workers, and keep records of tips for three years. Workers will be able to request to see parts of these records and raise a separate tribunal claim if records aren’t kept, or their employer doesn’t allow access.

A new statutory Code of Practice will be released to provide information to help businesses better understand how to do this, to ensure fairness and transparency.

The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill

This will require minimum service levels to be met in certain industries for strike action to be lawful. The Government will first consult on minimum service levels for fire, ambulance and rail services, in recognition of the severe disruption that the public faces when these services are impacted by strikes, especially the immediate risk to public safety when blue light services are disrupted.

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill 

This will allow parents from their first day of employment to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave, in addition to existing leave entitlements, to allow them to spend more time with their baby who has been hospitalised (up to 28 days after birth), and who needs a continuous stay in hospital of seven full days or more. Parents will also receive pay for this leave. Pay will be subject to the same eligibility requirements and amount as other statutory payments, such as maternity pay.

121 HR Solutions partnership clients will automatically be informed of any changes as they are passed through Parliament. If you would like more information on our Partnership Service contact us on enquiries@121hrsolutions.co.uk

 

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