If you blinked you may have missed it but there were several pieces of legislation that were passed during the “wash up” ahead of the dissolution of Parliament last week on 30 May.

  • The Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Bill received Royal Assent and became an Act of Parliament.  It will require commencement regulations to bring it into force, so a date will be confirmed in due course as to when this law must be implemented and company policy/handbooks will require updating. However, by way of a reminder, the Act will include the introduction of the following new rights:
    • The usual 26-week minimum service requirement to be eligible for paternity leave will be disapplied for fathers and partners where the mother has died in the first year after birth or adoption. This includes a bereaved parent of an adopted child, or intended parent of a child born through a surrogacy arrangement.
    • The requirement that a parent who has taken shared parental leave cannot subsequently take paternity leave will be removed in such circumstances.
    • It is anticipated that the commencement regulations will also grant further rights relating to:
      • the employee where the child also dies (or is returned after adoption); and
      • enhanced redundancy protection to bereaved employees when they return from extended paternity leave
    • Although not set out in the Act itself, we understand that the regulations will provide for paternity leave to be extended to 52 weeks, rather than the usual two weeks, in these circumstances.
  • The Code of Practice (Dismissal and Re-engagement) Order 2024 (SI 2024/708) was laid before Parliament. This Order brings into force the statutory Code of Practice on dismissal and re-engagement on 18 July 2024. Additional legislation which would allow an uplift or reduction in compensation if the Code is not followed was also expected to come into force on 18 July 2024. However, whether these provisions actually do come into force on the expected date is likely to depend on the outcome of the general election. Labour has already pledged to replace the code with a strengthened code of practice.
  • On 28 May 2024, the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 (Commencement No. 2 and Saving Provisions) Regulations 2024 (SI 2024/714) were published. Points to note:
    • The Regulations bring into force section 6 of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 (REUL(RR)A 2023) on 1 October 2024.
    • This section 6 makes amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (EU(W)A 2018), bringing in new court procedures relating to questions of “assimilated” law (and points of retained EU law, in cases involving pre-2024 facts).
  • The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill was not passed and cannot be carried out from one Parliament to the next, so this has effectively been dropped.
  • The House of Lords approved the draft statutory Code of Practice on the fair and transparent distribution of tips on 24 May 2024. Again, commencement regulations are now needed to bring the code, and the remaining provisions of the Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023, into force. It had been expected that they would come into force on 1 October 2024.

At a glance: “Labour’s Plan to Make Work Pay: Delivering A New Deal for Working People”

The Labour Party has published its ‘Plan to make Work Pay’ ahead of the general election announced for 4 July 2024. The Plan builds on Labour’s ‘New Deal for Working People’, which was initially published in September 2021.

The Plan confirms that legislation will be introduced within the first 100 days of their government if they are elected. However, importantly, it does also confirm: “we will consult fully with businesses, workers and civil society on how to put our plans into practice before legislation is passed”. Further confirmation is given that any legislation will then continue the parliamentary process in both Houses, with an implementation period as is standard following Royal Assent.

The proposals cover a range of employment law issues from “the right to switch off” to “Fair Pay Agreements”. Further significant points from an employment law perspective are as follows:

  • Banning “exploitative” zero hours contracts and ensuring workers have a right to a contract reflecting the number of hours they regularly work, based on a 12-week reference period. Ensuring workers get reasonable notice of any shifts or working time changes, with proportionate compensation given for cancelled or shortened shifts;
  • Introducing further ‘day one’ rights, including the right not to be unfairly dismissed. However, confirming that probation periods will be permissible. The Plan also appears to stay silent on Labour’s previous pledge to remove the compensation cap on unfair dismissal awards;
  • Confirming flexible working will be the default position from day one for all workers, except where it is not reasonably feasible;
  • Restricting ‘fire and re-hire’ and ‘fire and replace’ and replacing the statutory code brought in by the current Government, with a “strengthened” code of practice;
  • Removing the lower earnings limit for sick pay and the waiting period;
  • Increasing the three-month limitation period in which an employee can bring an Employment Tribunal claim to six months;
  • Amending collective redundancy consultation requirements so the total number of redundancies across a business will trigger the obligation to consult collectively as opposed to within a single establishment;
  • Consulting on a ‘move towards’ a single status of worker. This would reduce the current framework of “worker” and “employee” to one status, differentiating from the status of a genuine self-employed contractor.  The Plan acknowledges this consultation, along with a review of parental leave entitlements, will be “within the first year of a Labour Govt.” as opposed to within the first 100 days.

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