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In brief

As the UK’s Parliament has now been dissolved until the general election on 4 July 2024, most draft legislation will no longer proceed. However, some unfinished business is passed through agreement between the government and the opposition parties in what is known as the “wash up” process. These include laws on non-disclosure clauses, fair allocation of tips, additional paternity leave where the mother (or primary adopter) of a child dies, and the statutory code on fire and rehire. 


Contents

  1. ​​​​​Key takeaways
  2. In more detail

​​​​​Key takeaways

  • Given the limited time in the wash-up process, it is unsurprising that most draft employment legislation was not prioritised and will now no longer proceed.
  • Some of the employment legislation that was “saved” is also still in early form so it will be interesting to see how these develop, and whether any of the other lost bills will be resurrected by the new government following the general election.
  • To discuss more about what these developments mean for you and your business, please get in touch with your usual Baker McKenzie contact.

In more detail

On Wednesday 22 May 2024, the UK’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak MP, announced that a General Election would take place on Thursday 4 July 2024. Parliament was dissolved on Friday 24 May, meaning a “wash-up period” of two days.

The wash-up period refers to the last few days of a Parliament before dissolution. Any unfinished Parliamentary business is lost at dissolution, meaning that most bills are lost, while a few are progressed quickly, often in a much-shortened form.

Bills which have progressed through wash-up and are of interest to employers include:

  • Non-disclosure agreements – The Prisoners and Victims Bill was prioritised for wash-up because it contains details of the statutory compensation scheme for those affected by the infected blood scandal. However, the Bill is wide-ranging and contains a number of other provisions; one of these makes any confidentiality clause or non-disclosure agreement, void, to the effect it purports to prevent a victim of crime from reporting criminal conduct to law enforcement, qualified lawyers or other regulated professionals where the disclosure is to seek professional advice or to victim support organisations.
  • Tipping – the Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023 already has Royal Assent and was expected to come into force on 1 October 2024, but required a new statutory Code of Practice to be laid before Parliament. This happened during the wash-up period. The Act aims to ensure that tips, gratuities and service charges paid by customers are allocated to workers. The Code of Practice and the remaining measures in the Act are still expected to come into force on 1 October 2024. 
  • The Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Act allows the usual 26 weeks’ continuous service requirement to be eligible for paternity leave to be disapplied where a mother, or a person with whom a child is placed or expected to be placed for adoption, dies. The Bill is brief and contains little detail, which would be contained in separate Regulations. We understand that the Regulations may provide for paternity leave to be extended to 52 weeks in these circumstances. It is not known when the Act might come into force.
  • The Statutory Code on Fire and Rehire will come into force on 18 July 2024. The purpose of the Code is to provide practical guidance on avoiding, managing and resolving conflicts resulting from the practice of dismissing and re-engaging employees as a means of changing terms and conditions of employment. The Code will not apply where the prospect of dismissal and re-engagement has been raised by the employer before 18 July 2024. For further information, see here

Many of the forthcoming employment law changes expected in 2024 or beyond were not progressed, leaving their status uncertain. These include:

  • Neonatal leave and pay – the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act had already received Royal Assent in May 2023, but the details of the right and how it would apply were due to be set out in separate regulations. With no detail of when these regulations might be published, it is unknown whether the right will still come into force at some point in 2025, as the current government had announced.
  • Right to request a more predictable work pattern – the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act had also already received Royal Assent, in September 2023. However, it requires regulations to bring it into force. It was anticipated that this would be in September 2024 but no regulations were published before or during wash-up. A draft code of practice also remains to be laid before Parliament.
  • Limits on length of post-termination restrictions – in May 2023, it was announced that, when Parliamentary time allowed, the government intended to legislate to limit non-compete clauses to three months post-termination of employment. With no Parliamentary time left, this will not happen in this Parliament. It is not known whether a future Conservative-led government would act on this announcement, while the Labour Party have not indicated any intention to do so.
  • Changes to TUPE and European Works Councils – in May 2024, only a week before the general election was announced, a new government consultation was launched which proposed certain changes to TUPE and EWCs. You can read more about the consultation here. While the consultation remains open, any response to it or future legislation will be a matter for a future government.

Other private members bills of interest to employers which had passed at least the Second Reading stage and which will not now progress include the Artificial Intelligence (Regulation) Bill, the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill and the Employment and Trade Union Rights (Dismissal and Re-Engagement) Bill.

Author

John Evason manages the employment team in London. He is a specialist employment lawyer advising on all aspects of employment law. He is ranked as a star individual in Chambers and a leading individual in Legal 500. He is a member and former chair of the Legislative and Policy Sub-Committee of the Employment Lawyers Association which provides comments to the UK government on new and amended legislation and regulations. He is a regular speaker at conferences and seminars, and frequently contributes to various legal and personnel publications.

Author

Paul Harrison practices mainly in the area of employment law and serves as counsel in Baker McKenzie's Employment Group in London. Paul is a regular speaker at conferences and seminars, and has contributed articles on myriad employment issues to various legal and personnel publications.

Author

Rachel Farr is a Senior Knowledge Lawyer in Baker McKenzie, London office.

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