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Significant changes on the way

An employment law expert is warning Shropshire business owners to be aware of some significant legislation changes coming up this year.

Alasdair Hobbs, of Human Results in Telford, said it was important that employers were up to speed on a number of developments which would affect them and their staff.

“There are four key legislative changes taking place this year, involving flexible working, employees who are carers or on maternity leave, and more duties for employers to protect staff from sexual harassment.

“The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act comes into force on April 6, which is designed to make it easier for staff to request flexible working arrangements.

“In basic terms, it means staff will have the right to request flexible working from the very first day of their employment. They will also be able to make two requests - previously it was one - in any 12-month period, and employers will have to make a decision on the request within two months rather than the previous three.

“Staff who care for their dependents with long-term needs will be entitled to one week of unpaid leave per year, under the Carer’s Leave Act, which also comes into force on April 6.

“Meanwhile, the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 will expand the current protections for staff who are on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave. From April 6, employees will be protected from redundancy from the moment of pregnancy notification to 18 months after the birth of the child.”

Alasdair said another important change to be aware of was the introduction of the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act in October.

“This Act will place greater responsibility on employers to make their workplaces safer for all staff, and in particular introduce a duty on employers to take 'reasonable steps' to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

“If an employer is found to have breached this new duty, tribunals will have the power to increase the level of compensation by up to 25 per cent - so employers would be well-advised to take it seriously.

“A new statutory code of practice is due to be published soon which will outline the actions employers need to take.”