As our new Prime Minister settles in to her new role, many employers, employees and employment lawyers (me included) are eagerly awaiting what plans and changes there might be for employment law. Will we see the “bonfire of workers’ rights” much speculated in the media? Or the introduction of the long-awaited Single Enforcement Body for the enforcement of minimum wage, holiday pay and the regulation of umbrella companies? Or simply some tinkering around the edges of our employment laws? Or even nothing at all?
We will have to wait and see but, for now, below are some of the key topics that have been mooted by the government as areas that could change:
- Industrial action reforms – we have seen a summer of disruption with strikes by rail staff, postal workers, refuse collection workers, barristers and this looks set to continue into the autumn and possibly beyond. This is therefore a hot topic right now. We have already seen changes in this area earlier this year when the ban that prevented employers from bringing in temporary workers to cover striking workers was removed and the maximum amount of damages that can be awarded against a union for unlawful industrial action increased. The new PM has indicated further change in this area with possible reforms including:
- a new law introducing minimum staffing levels during strikes in key industries such as transport, education, healthcare and postal services;
- changes to balloting requirements by raising the voting threshold in order for a strike to go ahead;
- increasing the minimum notice period for strike action from two to four weeks;
- introducing a ‘cooling off’ period ie a limit on the number of times a union may strike in the six months after a ballot;
- removing tax-free payments to union members who strike.
- Overhaul of working time rules – the Working Time Regulations 1998, introduced in the UK by the EU Working Time Directive, contain rules on the 48 hour working week, breaks, holiday pay and leave. The Regulations are unlikely to disappear altogether. However, the rules around the 48 hour week may be removed and we may see clarity introduced around the calculation of holiday pay, which would be welcome by many employers.
- Post Brexit repeal or reform of other EU employment law – a promise by the new PM to scrap all remaining EU regulations by the end of 2023 could see laws including the Agency Workers Regulations and even TUPE impacted by this proposal.
- Revisiting the IR35 off-payroll working rules which have applied to the private sector since April 2021 and potentially abolishing this or watering it down significantly.
If you would like to discuss how any changes may impact the way you manage your staff or your business, please reach out to your usual contact in our team or contact us at: Deloitte Legal Employment Law.