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Home / News and Insights / Blogs / Employment Law / 449: What’s new in employment law?

Legislation for allocation of tips

The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023 received Royal Assent on 2 May 2023 and is scheduled to come into force on 1 October 2024 in England, Wales and Scotland. This Act, which had cross-party support, will introduce new requirements for employers to allocate tips, gratuities and service charges fairly and transparently amongst all workers. A final version of the statutory Code of Practice on Fair and Transparent Distribution of Tips was published on 22 April 2024 together with the government’s response to the consultation which was issued on 15 December 2023. This draft was approved by Parliament on 24 May 2024 and will also come into force on 1 October 2024. Additional non-statutory guidance is due to be published prior to this date. Affected employers are advised to begin preparing for the new requirements. This should include consulting with workers to seek broad agreement that the proposed system for allocating tips is fair, reasonable and clear; implementing a written tipping policy; and ensuring appropriate systems are introduced for record-keeping and dealing with queries and complaints. Failure to follow the Code will not in itself be actionable, but Tribunals will have to take the Code into account in determining disputes relating to tipping practices.

Guidance on pregnancy and maternity dismissals

Following the legislative changes which came into force on 6 April 2024 under the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has published updated guidance for employers on preventing pregnancy and maternity discrimination. This sets out employers’ legal obligations as well as practical advice on the period before, during and after employees take maternity leave. The changes that employers will have to implement include extended redundancy protection periods and offering suitable alternative employment as well as other new entitlements such as the right to request flexible working from day one.

Acas code on flexible working

An updated statutory Acas Code of Practice on Requests for Flexible Working came into effect on 6 April 2024, reflecting the changes made to the statutory flexible working regime under the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023. The Code must be followed if an employee makes a statutory request for flexible working and may also be useful when dealing with informal requests. A statutory request is defined widely as a request for a change to an employee’s terms and conditions relating to their hours, times or place of work. Acas has also updated its non-statutory guidance on flexible working. Both the Code and the guidance emphasise the importance of having a clear policy and procedure for handling requests for flexible working. This is particularly important given the likely increase in the number of formal requests due not only to the new right to request flexible working from day one of employment, but also to a noticeable shift in hybrid working practices towards a requirement to attend more days in the office.

Paternity Leave and bereavement

The Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Act 2024, which has had cross-party support, received Royal Assent on Friday 24 May. This Act amends the Employment Rights Act 1996 to give bereaved fathers and partners a day one right to 52 weeks’ paternity leave during the first year of their child’s life if the mother or an adoptive parent has died. There is also provision for regulations to be made allowing for bereaved fathers to take keeping in touch (KIT) days without affecting their leave. The Act will apply to England, Wales and Scotland but not Northern Ireland. However, an implementation date has not yet been set.

Tribunal Procedure Committee plans

Later this year, under changes enacted in the Judicial Review and Courts Act 2022, the Tribunal Procedure Committee (TPC) is expected to take over responsibility for practice and procedure in the Employment Tribunals. Although the TPC governs the rest of the tribunal system, Employment Tribunals and the EAT have historically been managed by the Department for Business and Trade and its predecessor departments. The TPC has recently published a prospective consultation on planned amendments to the Employment Tribunal Rules in Autumn 2024 once it has assumed responsibility. These include expanding the use of legal officers; some redrafting of current rules, including the rules on unless orders and deposit orders; and amendments to clarify and streamline procedure. Some changes are likely to take effect in April 2025, with a further tranche of changes taking effect in October 2025. The TPC will not have any powers in relation to determining the composition of Tribunal panels, which will remain a matter for the Senior President of the Tribunals. Responsibility for EAT procedure is expected to transfer to the TPC at a later date and would be followed by a comprehensive review of the EAT rules. It is also emphasised in the consultation that the TPC has no role in any decision relating to the re-introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunals and EAT, as proposed by the Conservative government in its January 2024 consultation. Responses to the TPC’s consultation must be submitted by 26 June 2024.

The modern Slavery Statement Registry

The Modern Slavery Statement Registry has been updated in order to encourage more employers to upload their annual modern slavery statements. Under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, organisations with an annual turnover of more than £36 million are required to produce and publish statements in a prominent place on their own website setting out how they are preventing and eliminating modern slavery from their operations and supply chains. Although it is not currently mandatory to publish these statements on the Registry, all organisations are strongly encouraged to do so voluntarily. Registered companies who have not uploaded a statement since the Registry was launched in 2021 will be sent a one-off email notification. In addition, email reminders will be sent each year to prompt companies to submit their latest annual statements to the Registry. Changes to the Registry’s online pages have also been made to show how many of the recommended sections have been completed.

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