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When will the Employment Bill be introduced?

Our expert employment lawyer explains which measures are due to come into place for workers and when we can expect these changes.

06 May 2022

On 19 December 2019, the Government pledged a series of employment law reforms including day one rights to flexible working, stable contracts of employment for gig economy workers, carer’s leave and enhanced protection from dismissal for employees returning from maternity leave. However, despite the bill being pledged over two years ago, we’re still waiting for it to be introduced.

Below, our specialist employment lawyer Laura Thompson runs through the changes proposed in the new bill, and when we can expect to see the bill introduced.

When can we expect the delayed Employment Bill?

The Government now indicates that the Employment Bill will be introduced 'when Parliamentary time allows'.

The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee said recently that the Bill is vital for protecting female workers disproportionately hit by the pandemic, and has called for a draft by June.

What will be included in the Employment Bill?

The measures expected to be included in the new Employment Bill are wide-ranging and may include provisions that will provide employees with more rights regarding working patterns. This includes the right to request a more predictable contract after 26 weeks service for those with variable and unpredictable hours, a concept which formed part of the Government’s 2018 Good Work Plan.

Other measures for the Employment Bill were announced as follows:

Workplace sexual harassment and tribunal time limits

On 21 July 2021, the government published its response to the consultation on workplace sexual harassment, which was launched in July 2019.

The Government has suggested three main actions:

  1. Employers will be required to ‘take all reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment
  2. Protection is to be implemented for employees regarding harassment from third parties
  3. The time limit for bringing these cases to the employment tribunal is set to be extended from 3 months to 6 months, providing people with more time to bring a claim after a sexual harassment act had been made

New right to carer’s leave

A proposed update is also in place for a carer’s leave policy. This means a new right to request up to one week of unpaid carer’s leave may apply from day one of employment.

Neonatal leave and pay

Parents of babies requiring neonatal care may be entitled to neonatal leave of up to 12 weeks, which will be paid if they have at least 26 weeks service.

Right to request flexible working

A consultation was published by the government on proposals to extend the right to make a flexible working request from day one of employment, rather than the current 26 weeks.

New single labour market enforcement body

On 8 June 2021, the government published its response to the proposal to create a single enforcement body. If enacted, this will bring the HMRS National Minimum Wage Enforcement, Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EASI), and Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) into one organisation, with extensive powers to protect employment rights and improve employers’ compliance. If created, the body could focus on protecting workers in relation to labour exploitation and modern slavery, a national minimum wage, holiday pay and statutory sick pay.

Extending redundancy protection for women and new parents

Under the Employment Bill, a new right could be created for pregnant employees at risk of redundancy to be offered suitable alternative employment. It’s thought this would be valid from the point of notifying their employer of their pregnancy, until 6 months after returning from maternity leave. This also may apply to those taking either adoption or shared parental leave. On 14 May 2021, the Women and Equalities Committee reported on the intention to extend a protection period to prevent redundancy on maternity leave.

Tips and gratuities

There may be a new requirement for employers to pass on all tips and gratuities to their workers in full under the new bill.

What should I do if I’m experiencing an employment issue?

While the progress of the Employment Bill has been thrown badly off course by the pandemic, there is a manifesto commitment to some of these measures on the part of the Government. Whether or not there’ll be time for Parliament to pass the Bill before the next general election remains to be seen.

Whenever these changes may be actioned, our experts are here if you’re experiencing issues with your employer. We’re one of the UK’s largest consumer law firms, and our team have many years of experience supporting clients facing problems at work.

If you’d like to speak with one of our specialist employment team, simply get in touch on 0330 107 6509, or, if you prefer, you can contact us via our online form or web chat.

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