Employment law 2023: six key tasks for HR

We look at what HR needs to do to meet its employment law obligations and prepare for the coming year.

While the Employment Bill, first promised by the Government in 2019, has not materialised, some changes to employment law do now look likely to progress in 2023.

The timetable for the introduction of these new measures is not yet clear, but HR professionals should monitor developments and be ready to meet their new obligations, as well as preparing for their regular HR tasks through the year.

30 March/4 April: publish your gender pay gap report

Organisations have 12 months to publish their gender pay gap figures from the relevant snapshot date (31 March for the public sector and 5 April for the private and voluntary sectors).

This means that the next gender pay gap reporting deadline is 30 March 2023 for public-sector employers and 4 April 2023 for private-sector and voluntary-sector employers. Organisations must publish reports on their website and on the gender pay gap reporting portal on the GOV.UK website.

Employers can choose to provide a narrative around any gender pay gap, including providing an explanation for their pay gap and setting out what steps they are taking to reduce the gap.

1 April: comply with national minimum wage increases

The rates for the national minimum wage will increase on 1 April 2023. The hourly rate of the minimum wage will increase from:

  • £9.50 to £10.42 for workers aged 23 and over (the national living wage);
  • £9.18 to £10.18 for workers aged 21 or 22;
  • £6.83 to £7.49 for workers aged 18 to 20;
  • £4.81 to £5.28 for workers aged under 18 who are no longer of compulsory school age; and
  • £4.81 to £5.28 for apprentices under 19, or over 19 and in the first year of the apprenticeship.

Employers should check their pay rates against the forthcoming minimum wage rates and ensure that, where necessary, they increase remuneration for the first pay reference period beginning on or after 1 April 2023.

The rate of statutory maternity, adoption, paternity, shared parental and parental bereavement pay will increase to £172.48, up from £156.66. The increase normally takes effect on the first Sunday in April, which in 2023 is 2 April.

The rate for statutory sick pay will also rise on 6 April 2023. The new rate will be £109.40, up from £99.35.

It is up to HR to make sure that staff on maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental and parental bereavement leave, and staff on sick leave, are paid these statutory minimum rates.

HR professionals also need to review their Policies and procedures that mention the rates, such as their maternity policies and sickness absence procedures.

6 April: update your statutory redundancy pay calculations

New limits on employment statutory redundancy pay will come into force on 6 April 2023.

Employers that dismiss employees for redundancy must pay those with two years' service an amount based on the employee's weekly pay, length of service and age.

The weekly pay is subject to a maximum amount (£571 from 6 April 2022). The new amount will be confirmed in the draft Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2023, which should be published some time in February.

HR professionals should ensure that calculations for statutory redundancy payments are made on the basis of this new maximum amount for redundancy dismissals on or after 6 April 2023.

8 May: manage bank holiday entitlement for the King's coronation

The Government has announced an additional bank holiday on 8 May 2023, to celebrate the King's coronation.

This means that there will be three bank holidays in May 2023.

Employers need to look at how they will approach the additional bank holiday. This will be determined to some extent by the wording in employees' contracts of employment. For example, where the contract entitles employees to take leave on "all bank and public holidays", the employer will be required to grant the extra day as leave.

Even if the employer is not contractually obliged to grant the extra day as leave, it may choose to do so as a goodwill gesture to employees.

Employers need to plan well in advance for potential staffing issues. They may need extra staff if their business will be particularly busy on bank holidays and they may see a spike in requests for annual leave around this time.

All year round: look out for other changes on the horizon

Legal timetable

The HR & Compliance Centre Legal timetable will be updated throughout the year with implementation dates for new employment laws.

The Government has previously announced a number of other employment law developments, without setting out a timetable for their introduction.

The following proposals are being taken forward through Private Members' Bills, with Government backing (this means that it is likely, but not certain, that they will become legislation in 2023):

In addition, the Government has announced the following developments:

  • the introduction of minimum service levels during strikes in key sectors;
  • reforms to the requirement to produce modern slavery statements;
  • reform of the UK data protection regime;
  • the introduction of a statutory code of practice on changing contracts of employment, including through "fire and rehire";
  • amendments to the rules on settlement agreements; and
  • new provisions to give workers the right to request a more predictable and stable contractual working pattern.

It remains to be seen which of these proposals will be taken forward in 2023. For example, in relation to the right to request a more predictable and stable working pattern, the Government has said only that it: "will bring forward legislation on this if parliamentary time allows."

Revocation of retained EU law

Employers should also keep an eye on the Government's plans in relation to the revocation of retained EU law at the end of 2023. This applies to EU law that was incorporated into UK law as a result of Brexit. If the proposal goes ahead as planned, government departments will have until the end of the year to decide which EU retained laws should expire and which should be kept.

This has a potential impact on areas including working time, TUPE, agency workers and fixed-term contracts.