Takeaways from 2023

19th December 2023

As the year draws to a close, Claire Hollins looks at some of the key employment law developments from the year.

  1. Menopause

2023 has seen an increase in the number of Tribunal claims citing menopause. Whilst there is no suggestion that menopause of itself will become a protected characteristics within the scope of the Equality Act, there is a growing body of case law where menopausal employees have successfully relied on the protected characteristic of disability.

Sally Bird looked at reasonable adjustments relating to the menopause here.

  1. Gender, protected beliefs and the financial realities of defending claims

This year saw the remedy judgment in the long running litigation in Forstater v CGD Europe and others in which Ms Forstater was awarded £106,404.31 demonstrating the high financial realities of getting the balance between competing protected characteristics wrong. You can read about the case here.

As we go into 2024 it is clear that following last week’s session at the Women & Equalities Committee this is likely to prove to be a contentious subject and a potential hotbed for further litigation.

  1. Reasonable Adjustments for Mental Health

Acas published new guidance for employers and employees on making reasonable adjustments for mental health in the workplace. Although the guidance did not create any new legal obligations, mental health continues to impact on the workplace and employers who fail to take this seriously can face Tribunal claims for disability discrimination. Read Lauren Ogden’s take on the new guidelines here.

  1. Social Media

There were a number of high profile instances of alleged misuse of social media during the year. We took a look at what employers need to include when putting together a social media policy and how to minimise the risks to the business here.

  1. Strengthening sexual harassment laws

On 20 October 2023, The Worker Protection (amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act was passed and received Royal Assent on 26 October 2023. The introduction of a mandatory duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment, together with the introduction of a statutory code of practice on sexual harassment in work shows positive steps are being taken to prevent the sexual harassment of employees during the course of their employment.

The new legislation is in response to the campaigns for greater protection from sexual harassment in the workplace. The law will come into force in October 2024.

Mark McKeating looked at the impact of sexual harassment in the workplace back in September and you can read his thoughts here.

  1. Restrictive covenants and limitations to non-compete clauses

The Government announced earlier this year a plan to legislate to cap the length of non-compete clauses in employment contracts to 3 months to remove perceived barriers to labour market flexibility, innovation and higher wages.

Sally Bird discussed the legislative changes (the first of its kind for over 300 years) together with the practical impact here.

  1. Allocation of tips

Associate, Claire Treacy previously discussed the changes due to be implemented in light of the provisions of the Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023, which came into force on 31 July 2023.

The new laws in relation to tipping are expected to give employees an extra £200 million which would have otherwise have been deducted from wages. Read more here.

With this new legislation on the horizon for 2024, employers should already be planning how to comply with the new legislation and gathering information about tipping and thinking about the record keeping that will be required.

On 15 December the Department for Business and Trade published a consultation on the draft statutory Code of Practice that will accompany the new legislation. You can find the consultation (which is divided into 5 sections)  and which closes at 4.30pm on 22 February 2024 here. We will be collating a response to the consultation in the New Year so if this is something which affects your business, keep an eye out for this in January and be sure to let us know your thoughts.

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