The 8 Future Employment Trends

Thu 6th Jul 2023

New Flexible Working Rules

Once the new rules are implemented, employees will have the right to request flexible working from day one of their employment, instead of the current requirement to wait 26 weeks before requesting flexible working.

A request for flexible working may include:

  • A combination of working from home and from the office, or working entirely remotely.
  • Job-sharing, flexitime and other non-standard working practices.

There is currently no timeline for when the new rules will apply, it will however be something for employers to consider for reviewing their flexible working policies.

Four Day Week Campaign publishes mini manifesto

The Four Day Week Campaign has published a mini manifesto calling for a reduction of the maximum working week to 32 hours and the right for workers to request a four-day week with no loss of pay.

The four-day week pilot took place in the UK in 2022, and almost all of the 61 participating organisations have continued with a four-day week at the end of the trial.

The manifesto calls for:

  • Reduction of the maximum working week from 48 hours to 32 hours per week by 2030 and provision for work beyond 32 hours to be paid at an overtime rate of 1.5 times a worker’s ordinary pay.
  • Amendment of the Government flexible working guidance to include the right for workers to request a four-day, 32-hour working week with no loss of pay.
  • £100 million fund to be set up to support companies as they move to a four-day, 32-hour working week.
  • Launch of a major four-day week pilot in the public sector.

The 4 Day Week Campaign will be advocating for these changes in the run up to the next general election.

Holiday pay calculations to be simplified

The law surrounding the calculation of holiday pay is complex and can be confusing. Over recent years there has been a number of legal cases in this area. In May 2023, the Government announced that its proposal to simplify this are and merge the two current annual leave entitlement (i.e 20 holiday days under the Working Time Directive plus 8 public holidays which have different rates of pay) into one statutory annual leave entitlement which will set out the minimum rate that this should be paid at. It also proposed to introduce rolled up holiday pay to allow workers to receive holiday pay with each payslip.

TUPE

Currently under TUPE, only employers with fewer than 10 employees can inform and consult affected employees directly on a business transfer or service provision change. Otherwise, under a TUPE transfer the employers cannot consult with employees individually and there is a requirement to facilitate an election of employee representatives.

The Government plans to consult “on removing this requirement for businesses with fewer than 50 people and transfers affecting fewer than 10 employees, allowing businesses to consult directly with the affected employees”.

It is hoped that these changes will improve engagement with employees and simplify the transfer process, while ensuring employees’ rights continue to be protected.

Reform of non-competition clauses in contracts of employment

Many organisations include non-compete clauses in employment contracts to prevent staff from working for or establishing a competing business once they leave their employer. Non-compete clauses will however only be enforceable if they are no wider than is reasonably necessary to protect an employer’s “legitimate business interests”. Non-compete clauses are potentially enforceable provided they are proportionate.

The Government has announced it intends to limit the length of non-compete clauses to 3 months to provide employees with more flexibility and freedom to work for a competing business or setting up a business in competition. The intention is to provide a boost to the UK economy whilst supporting businesses to grow and increase productivity by widening the talent pool.

Although this proposal will be welcomed by many employees, employers will inevitably be concerned about the impact it could have on their businesses. At this stage it is unclear what legislation will look like and when it will come into force, and therefore employers may consider using alternative methods to restrict the impact their former employees could have on their businesses. For example, extending notice periods or garden leave periods, or using alternative restrictive covenants such as non-solicitation clauses, may provide the protection required.

Read our article by Chris Cook and Emily Morrison about the Government announcement regarding changes to working time regulations, TUPE and non-compete clauses here.

New employment protections at work for parents and unpaid carers

Employees, who are parents and carers, are set to receive additional protections at work in respect of leave entitlement and redundancy rules.

Eligible employees will be entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid neonatal care leave, there will be enhanced redundancy protection for pregnant women and new parents and a new set of entitlements for unpaid carers. Read our recent article by Emily Morrison about the changes here.

Report calls for increased statutory paternity leave and pay to support the economy and improve mental health

A recent report by the Centre for Progressive Policy, Pregnant Then Screwed (PTS) and Women in Data has considered the societal and economic impact of paternity leave. It calls on the Government to increase the length of non-transferable paternity leave to a minimum of six weeks, and for it to be paid at 90% of income in line with current statutory maternity pay (repeating the call made by PTS last year).

The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023 has received Royal Assent

The Government will make it unlawful for employers to hold back service charges from their workers, ensuring that staff receive the tips they have earned.

Through the Act, a new statutory Code of Practice will be developed to provide businesses and staff with advice on how tips should be distributed. Workers will also receive a new right to request more information relating to an employer’s tipping record.

The measures are expected to come into force in 2024, following a consultation and implementation of secondary legislation. 

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