Our monthly employment law round up.

National Insurance rise to be reversed from 6 November

The 1.25% increase in NICs introduced in April 2022 is to be reversed from 6 November, with the Health and Social Care Levy which was due to be introduced in April 2023 to be scrapped. The change in policy is the result of Liz Truss winning the Conservative Party leadership contest. It is the first of a number of employment law related pledges made during Liz Truss's campaign to be implemented.

IR35 extension to the private sector to be reversed from April 2023

The recent "mini-budget" included confirmation that the recent change to the off payroll working rules in the private sector is to be reversed from 6 April 2023. This returns responsibility for assessing employment status for tax purposes to the contractor and not the company (end user) engaging the contractor. The Treasury estimates this will cost approximately £6 billion over the next four tax years but will "simplify the tax system".

Voluntary real living wage rises to £10.90 per hour

The Living Wage Foundation has brought forward its November increase to the Real Living Wage in light of the cost of living crisis. This will result in approximately 400,000 workers getting a pay boost. The hourly rates will rise to £10.90 across the UK and £11.95 in London with immediate effect. The real living wage is a voluntary pay rate, not to be confused with the statutory national living wage which is currently £9.50 per hour.

Bill that may lead to revision or removal of employment rights published

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill has been published. If this becomes law it will automatically repeal any retained EU Law with effect from 31 December 2023 (with the option of extending to December 2026) unless specific legislation is introduced to retain it. Pieces of legislation that may be at risk include TUPE, the Working Time Regulations and the Agency Worker Regulations.

No criminal action to be taken against P&O Ferries

After P&O Ferries undertook mass redundancies without the necessary consultation, the Insolvency Service announced both criminal and civil investigations would take place into the actions of the company. It has been confirmed that although the civil investigation is continuing, there will be no criminal action taken as there is "no realistic prospect of a conviction".

Supporting a football club is not a philosophical belief

A Scottish employment tribunal has found that supporting Rangers Football Club does not amount to a philosophical belief worthy of protection under the Equality Act 2010. The tribunal found support for a football club is akin to a lifestyle choice, it does not represent a belief as to a weighty or substantial aspect of human life, with no larger consequences for humanity as a whole. It also lacked the required characteristics of cogency, cohesion and importance, and did not invoke the same respect in a democratic society as matters such as ethical veganism.

Gender discrimination in the workplace persisting

A recent report on gender equality has highlighted the persistence of gender discrimination in the construction, education, healthcare and technology sectors. Statistics showed that 72% of women had witnessed or encountered inappropriate behaviour or comments from male colleagues. Just under 10% of women said they had been offered a less important role because of their gender and 7% reported being passed over for promotion. The report recommends ensuring the recruitment process is inclusive, fostering an inclusive workplace culture and weaving inclusion into the employee lifecycle.

Employment tribunal quarterly statistics

Due to the transition to a new database that took place in 2021, the annual tribunal statistics that are usually published at this time of year are not available. However, the quarterly statistics for Q1 2022/23 show an overall decrease in receipts of 10% as compared to Q1 2021/22. When these figures are analysed more closely there is a decrease of 20% for single claims and 2% for multiple claims.

Four day week trial showing increased productivity

Many of the firms taking part in a four-day working week trial have said they will keep it in place after the pilot ends having seen productivity either being maintained or improved. The trial is part of pilots happening in the US, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.