Regulatory Outlook

Employment and immigration | UK Regulatory Outlook February 2024

Published on 28th Feb 2024

What would Labour do? | Payment services reform poses challenge | UK Immigration Update 

What would Labour do? Proposal for bill on temporary staffing, gig working and contracting

Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of the UK Labour Party (which polls suggest is likely to win the next UK general election, due to be held by the end of January 2025), spoke on Sky News (3 February 2024) about introducing a bill "within 100 days" of an election to make major changes in the world of temporary staffing, gig working and contracting, as part of its "new deal for working people".

These changes would include day one employment rights for all workers, a ban on "exploitative" zero-hours contracts (which is effectively the main agency worker and gig worker mode of engagement) and an end to "bogus self-employment". 

The detail is not yet clear, but suppliers (including staffing companies and platforms) and users of temp and zero-hours workers and contractors should start thinking about the likely impact of the promised changes on their commercial models and costs, including longer-term supply arrangements to which they are already signed up. However, it may be difficult to introduce quick and effective legislation to implement many of these proposed changes. Read our Insight for more.

Payment services reform poses challenge for Europe's people platforms, MSPs and payroll companies

Proposed changes to European payments legislation will tighten up an exemption relied on by many people platforms, managed service providers (MSPs) and payroll providers that make payments to workers (or intermediaries through which workers are engaged) in the EU.

The EU is updating its regulatory regime governing payments and electronic money. Change is needed in order to reflect technological and commercial developments since the previous legislation was passed, iron out inconsistencies between payments and e-money legislation and ensure a more consistent application of the rules across all Member States.

If the reforms are passed, the changes will make it difficult for these platforms and providers to rely on the commercial agent exemption as their basis for making payments in the EU, unless they make major changes to their business models. See more in our Insight.

Dismissal and re-engagement: Government response to consultation and updated code published 

Following a recent consultation, the government has published its response to the consultation on the draft statutory Code of Practice on Dismissal and Re-engagement together with an updated code.

The code sets out what steps employers should take when seeking to change terms and conditions of employment where dismissal and re-engagement is envisaged and seeks to ensure that dismissal and re-engagement is only used as a last resort. The new draft code states that employers should contact Acas for advice before they raise the prospect of dismissal and re-engagement with employees. It essentially reflects existing best practice and provides for information to be provided to employees (or their appropriate representatives as the case may be) and for consultation to take place with employees and/or their representatives with alternative options being properly considered. The code is clear that the prospect of dismissal should not be raised unreasonably early and the threat of dismissal should not be used as a negotiating tactic to put undue pressure on employees where dismissal is not envisaged.

Employers should note that the code will apply regardless of the number of employees affected or potentially affected by the employer's proposals and regardless of the employer's reasons for seeking the changes. The new draft code, however, now makes it clear that it will not apply where an employer is only envisaging making employees redundant.  

Employment tribunals will have power to apply an uplift of 25% of an employee's compensation where an employer unreasonably fails to comply with the code. 

EHRC publishes guidance on menopause and the Equality Act 

The EHRC has published guidance on menopause in the workplace setting out an employer's legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010. The guidance has been published against the backdrop of increased awareness of the way in which the menopause can have an impact on an employee's working life and a focus on keeping older workers in the workplace or encouraging them to return. The EHRC press release notes that it is increasingly important for employers to know how to support workers experiencing menopause symptoms not only to ensure they meet their legal responsibilities but also so that these women are able "to continue to contribute to the workplace and benefit from work".

The guidance clarifies an employer's legal obligations and confirms that "if menopause symptoms have a long term and substantial impact on a woman's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, they may be considered a disability" and an employer "will be under a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments and not to discriminate against the worker".

Additionally workers experiencing menopause symptoms may be protected from less favourable treatment related to their menopause symptoms on the grounds of age and sex.

The guidance also provides practical tips for employers on making reasonable adjustments and fostering positive conversations about the menopause with their workers. Employers are "encouraged to carefully consider the guidance" and adapt their policies and practices accordingly. 

UK Immigration Update | February 2024

Our latest immigration update covers a number of recent developments and changes on the horizon, including to arrangements for short-term visitors to the EU, increased flexibility for those visiting the UK, new requirements for anyone wishing to return to or join their family member in the UK, and further changes to e-visas. 


View the full Regulatory Outlook

Interested in hearing more? Expand to read the other articles in our Regulatory Outlook series

View the full Regulatory Outlook

Regulatory law affects all businesses.

Osborne Clarke’s updated Regulatory Outlook provides you with high level summaries of important forthcoming regulatory developments to help in-house lawyers, compliance professionals and directors navigate the fast-moving business compliance landscape in the UK.

Receive Regulatory Outlook each month

A round-up of forthcoming regulatory developments – straight to your inbox

* 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.

Interested in hearing more from Osborne Clarke?