HR Update for Managers

Posted 13/04/2023 : By: Felicity Shakespeare

Changes to Flexible Working – are you ready?

Although not law yet, the Flexible Working Bill currently going through the House of Lords means that some changes are coming to the guidance around flexible working arrangements that employers should be aware of:

  • employees will be able to make a flexible working request (FWR) from the first day of employment
  • employees will be able to make two requests within a 12-month period
  • employers will be required to respond to a FWR within two months 
  • employers will have to consult with an employee before rejecting a FWR
  • employees will no longer have to explain how their FWR will impact on the employer’s business.

Enhanced Redundancy Protection for Pregnancy and Maternity

Currently, women on maternity leave have special protection in a redundancy situation and must be offered a suitable alternative vacancy where one is available in priority over other employees at risk of redundancy. 

The Pregnancy and Maternity Discrimination Bill proposes to extend this protection to employees during their pregnancy and after they return from maternity leave. It is not yet known when this will come into force or how long the extended period will be.

Sexual Harassment at Work

Although not due to become law until 2024, the Workers Protection Bill puts a new onus on employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and reinstates employer liability for third-party harassment. This means that an employee could bring a claim of third-party harassment, i.e., by a patient after even a single incident.

Employers should be looking at ways of raising awareness of sexual harassment amongst their workforce, perhaps through training as well as considering ways of protecting their employees from harassment by third parties.

Other Leave

The government has backed proposals for employees with a dependant needing long-term care to take one week of unpaid leave each year. This right would apply from the first day of employment.

The Neonatal Leave Bill will give eligible employees the right to between 1 and 12 weeks of paid leave to care for a neonate, regardless of length of service. Eligible employees with 26 or more weeks of service will have the right to receive neonatal care pay at a prescribed statutory rate. 

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