Reasons to choose Wilson Browne
With 2022 nearing an end, many organisations are starting to plan ahead for 2023.
Given the number of changes and challenges experienced by all, not least the formation of several governments, it is not surprising that planning is proving tricky for many. However, all plans should include a compliance audit of documentation, including employment documentation.
When reviewing employment documentation ensure that:
- it aligns with the organisation’s culture;
- it reflects any changes to the law, benefits or working practices that have occurred since its last review; and
- takes account of any anticipated changes to employment law.
Below, we have summarised both key changes to the law that have occurred in recent years as well as some anticipated future employment law changes.
There have been two key changes to the law that potentially affect employment contracts and handbooks of which you should be aware.
April 2020 saw a change to the law regarding the issue of written statements. It is not just the timing of issue that has changed (written statements must now be issued on or before the worker’s first day), but also the detail that they must include. For example, written statements must include:
- information about training (including cost) that the worker will be expected to undertake during their employment;
- probationary periods and any conditions regarding those periods; and
- whether working hours are variable.
The second change relates to the extension of the ban on exclusivity in zero hours contracts.
In addition to the changes to the law, there has also been a shift in traditional working practices. Long gone is the traditional 9 – 5 office based role. Flexible ways of working have instead become common place for many – including hybrid working. Where an organisation’s working practices have changed, such as allowing home-working, contracts of employment need varying to reflect this. Additionally, policies should provide a framework for how the working practices should be managed. It is also important to avoid conflicts between either the contracts of employment and handbooks/policies or between individual policies themselves.
Future Changes to Employee Rights
This is a trickier question to answer given that new employment law changes which may lie ahead are far from certain. Recent changes to the government have led to legislation predictions being difficult to make. However, there are a few bills that most agree will be passed in some guise. The first is the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill. This bill has been heralded as one of the most important changes to employment law seen in recent years. If it is adopted in its current form, by the end of 2023, it will repeal and number of EU Laws which currently apply in the UK unless specific legislation has been implemented to retain those laws. This could mean changes to laws relating to:
- Holiday/Annual Leave Entitlements,
- Limitations on Working Hours, and
- Maternity and Parental Leave Rights.
However, a number of amendments to the Bill have been tabled in recent weeks. One of those amendments is to extend the current “end of 2023” date to 2026. Other amendments that have been tabled include retaining rights relating to annual leave and maternity.
A second significant area of law that is likely to change is in relation to data protection. It has been announced that the UK GDPR will be replaced with a bespoke British data protection system. In its announcement, the government has indicated that the new system will be business and consumer friendly whilst still ensuring that data is kept safe and that privacy maintained at all times. It is currently anticipated that the new system will be modelled on those systems adopted by countries which do not recognise GDPR (such as Israel, Japan, Canada and New Zealand). However, at this time, there is very little information about how the new system may look and operate or the date by which that new system will be in place. It is expected that the Information Commissioners Office will issue updates in relation to any new data protection laws/systems as and when further details is made available.
If, after your documentation review, you conclude that the documentation requires some revision, check if those revisions could affect contractual terms. If contractual terms are affected, this will need careful handling.
See our guide https://www.wilsonbrowne.co.uk/guides/guide-to-changing-terms-and-conditions/ for more information on changing terms and conditions. And even if contractual terms are not impacted, identify how any changes should be brought to the attention of the organisation’s workers. No organisation will want to go to the trouble of revising its contracts or policies to later find those changes are ineffective!
If you have any questions about employment documentation reviews, or would like to benefit from our free contract template audit, give us a call on 0800 088 6004.