· Comment

Employment law outlook for 2023

This year has been a rollercoaster, but we shouldn’t expect 2023 to be any less bumpy.  As we (potentially) see rights given with one hand, could we see them being taken away with the other?

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill in its current form threatens this.

From 31 December 2023, all subordinate legislation will expire automatically absent further action.

This means waving goodbye to TUPE, the Working Time Regulations, the Agency Worker Regulations, and protection against discrimination for part-time workers and fixed-term employees, creating an uncertain outlook for key worker rights in 2023.

What 2023 has in store for HR:

HR needs to prepare for further sackings in 2023

2023 predictions for UK immigration policy as skills shortages escalate

Employee experience trends for 2023

Moving into recession headwinds, employers will be under financial pressure. The practice of fire and rehire will undoubtedly be used to re-engage workers on less generous terms, but this will be guided by a new Statutory Code of Practice (to be introduced "in due course").

While it won’t ban the practice, unreasonable failure to follow it will run the risk of higher compensation being awarded in any claim.

But with employees also feeling the squeeze, the wave of industrial action is set to continue.

New laws on minimum service levels are being introduced next year to help passengers travel during strikes, a move which has (and will continue to be) challenged by unions as arguably eroding the fundamental right to strike.  

Separately, a boost for hospitality workers is on the horizon, with the government committing to introduce laws that will require tips to be passed to workers without deductions.

The government has also confirmed it will create a single enforcement body; an avenue for vulnerable workers to seek pay owed to them and enforce their rights.

Meanwhile, employers continue to await amendments to the Equality Act 2010 introducing a proactive duty on them to take “all reasonable steps” to prevent sexual harassment.

The Women and Equalities Committee has called for separate changes to the legislation to protect menopausal women, recommending that the government launches a consultation on introducing a new protected characteristic of menopause.

It remains to be seen whether such action will be taken.

Will 2023 – finally – see the introduction of the long-promised new rights for working families and carers?

There is reason to be cautiously optimistic about this given the various Private Members’ Bills the government has backed this year (making them more likely to actually become law).

Under one Bill, redundancy protection would be extended to pregnant women and new parents returning to work. Under another, parents caring for premature babies would be entitled to additional leave and pay.

For the millions of employees who balance their work with caring responsibilities, the government has also backed a proposed law which would grant one week’s unpaid leave a year to provide or arrange care for dependants. Support for carers would also be bolstered by a potential change in the flexible working regime.

2023 will doubtless continue to shape the future of work.


Kloe Halls is associate in the employment & incentives practice at Linklaters