Regulatory Outlook

Employment and Immigration | UK Regulatory Outlook April 2023

Published on 27th Apr 2023

UK government announces review of whistleblowing frameworkThe Worker Protection (Amendment of the Equality Act 2010) Bill | Government publishes new guidance on ethnicity pay gap reporting 

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UK government announces review of whistleblowing framework

As noted in our Insight, the government has announced a review of the UK whistleblowing framework that "will gather evidence on the effectiveness of the current regime in enabling workers to speak up about wrongdoing and protect those who do so" – it is seeking views and evidence from "whistleblowers, key charities, employers and regulators".

The review will cover central topics including:

  • who is covered by whistleblowing protections;
  • the availability of information and guidance for whistleblowing purposes – both on the government website and that provided by employers; and
  • how employers and prescribed persons respond to whistleblowing disclosures, including best practice.

The evidence-gathering stage of the review will conclude in autumn 2023. View the full terms of reference for the review.

The Worker Protection (Amendment of the Equality Act 2010) Bill

The government is currently supporting a private members' bill – the Worker Protection (Amendment of the Equality Act 2010) Bill – through Parliament which will:

  • make employers liable for harassment of their employees by third parties;
  • introduce a positive duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent the sexual harassment of their employees; and
  • make provision for a compensation uplift in sexual harassment cases where there has been a breach of the employer duty.

These proposals reflect some of the commitments made by the government in its response to a consultation on sexual harassment in the workplace in July 2021. However, the bill has attracted media attention in the past week over the extent of proposed obligations relating to third party harassment, with the government reportedly under pressure from some members of its party to quietly drop it. Read our Insight which explores what this will mean for employers.

Government publishes new guidance on ethnicity pay gap reporting 

The government has published guidance on ethnicity pay reporting recognising that "analysing ethnicity pay information is one way employers can identify and investigate disparities in the average pay between ethnic groups in their workforce. It helps employers understand whether unjustifiable disparities exist between different ethnic groups and in turn, gives them an evidence base from which to develop an action plan". This follows the report "Inclusive Britain", published in March 2022, in which the government confirmed that, unlike the statutory duty on employers with at least 250 employees to report their gender pay gap each year, mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting would not be introduced. The guidance is therefore intended to set out "a consistent approach to measuring pay differences". Read our Insight for more on this new guidance.

As part of its response to Inclusive Britain, the government has also published new guidance on "positive action" for those employers who want to use positive action to widen opportunities in a way that is consistent with equalities legislation.

Autism and work

The government has launched a review designed to boost the employment prospects of autistic people. The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mel Stride MP, has appointed Sir Robert Buckland KC MP to lead the review, which will consider how the government "can work with employers to help more autistic people realise their potential and get into work". With people with autism having a particularly low employment rate with fewer than three in 10 in work, the review will ask "businesses, employment organisations, specialist support groups and autistic people to help identify the barriers to securing and retaining work and progressing with their careers". See our Insight for more.

Changes to rates and limits this April

From this month, a number of new rates and limits will apply to UK employers, including new Vento bands on injury to feeling awards, new annual tribunal limits for dismissal, statutory rates for family leave and new minimum pay rates. See our Insight for a full round-up of these changes.

'Failure to prevent fraud' introduced through Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill

See Bribery, fraud and anti-money laundering.

Immigration Update

As 2023 progresses, there are many new challenges for, and changes to, immigration policy, processes and regulation in the UK. The UK Visas & Immigration published its statement of changes on 9 March 2023, these changes came into effect on 13 April 2023.

Some of the main points to highlight are:

  • an increase to the general salary thresholds and hourly rates under the work routes;
  • amendments to Appendix Skilled Occupations;
  • clarification on how to assess salaries for irregular working patterns for work routes;
  • launch of Electronic Travel Authorisations; and
  • new Innovator Founder Route.

Companies should plan ahead, factor in long waiting times for visas and ensure they have the tools in place (like a sponsor licence) to meet their recruitment needs.

View the recording of our latest immigration update from 25 April.


* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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