Employment and immigration | UK Regulatory Outlook February 2023
Published on 28th Feb 2023
Menopause and the workplace | New directive threatens the use of self-employed contractor models in Europe | Update on employment law legislative reforms in 2023
Menopause and the workplace
The UK government has published its response to the recommendations made by the Women and Equalities Committee’s report "Menopause and the Workplace" and has rejected calls to commence immediately section 14 of the Equality Act 2010 to enable employees to bring dual discrimination claims and make menopause a new protected characteristic. But it has recognised the need to take steps to support and retain women over the age of 50 in employment, as they represent the fastest-growing segment of the workforce.
Our Insight considers the measures accepted by the government that are of most significance to employers, and our webinar considers practical steps that employers can take to manage legal risk, including with regard to employment documentation and training needs.
New directive threatens the use of self-employed contractor models in Europe
Use of self-employment models across the EU has been growing and attracting a lot of attention in relation to perceived abuses of workers' rights in areas such as deliveries and taxi services. In some countries, this is leading to a reduction in government tax revenues (in most countries, employment taxes are still the main source of government revenue).
The European Commission has been looking at this development, and there is now a draft directive that effectively means many self-employed contractors and gig workers in Europe (including those supplied via US or UK intermediaries) will have to be engaged as employees – there will effectively be a rebuttable presumption of employment status, which will be hard to overcome. Following a vote in the European Parliament on 2 February the directive seems likely to be adopted over the next year, with local implementation likely through 2024.
Many consultancies, platforms, staffing companies, and employers and agents of record may need to start planning changes to their commercial models and in some cases obtain new licences, work out how to deal with tax implications and pass on related costs to clients, as well as comply with a new range of regulations. New transparency requirements will also be introduced on how technology is used in organising the work of relevant workers. Users of self-employed contractors and consultants supplied via intermediaries will also have to make adjustments or face increased supply costs. If the directive works, a new government in the UK may be tempted to replicate it in the UK.
The changes that affected organisations will need to adopt may take many months to implement – and they will need to start planning soon. Read our Insight for more.
Update on employment law legislative reforms in 2023
There are a number of legislative reforms affecting employers in 2023, including: The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, a private members bill on the right to request predictable working patterns, a bill offering further redundancy protection on pregnancy and maternity leave, the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, and developments on ethnicity pay gap reporting.
In addition, the prime minister has announced the creation of four new government departments, and the splitting up of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The new Department for Business and Trade is expected to oversee employment policy and regulation.
For more detail on these developments, see our Insight.