Employment Legislation Passed in Final Hours of Assembly

Dylan Loughlin

A range of new legislation has been passed in the final hours of the Stormont mandate which will impact businesses in Northern Ireland.

We have broken down this new legislation to help explain what it means for businesses as well as when the new laws come into effect.

Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 will provide working parents with two week’s paid leave following the tragic loss of a child under 18.

The Act has received royal assent and will provide employees with the following additional rights from 6th April 2022:

  • Two weeks’ parental bereavement leave
  • Payment during leave at the minimum statutory rate
  • Protection from dismissal or detriment as a result of exercising their entitlement

Before now, employees in Northern Ireland had no statutory entitlement to paid leave following the tragic circumstance of suffering the loss of a child. The Bill provides Northern Irish employees with the same entitlements to leave and pay as the rest of Great Britain, whose act came into force in April 2020. Following further consideration, the Act is set to be extended to include other new rights for working parents (e.g. those in relation to miscarriage & removal of service requirement for statutory pay). These new rights are expected to be brought into force at a later date, but before April 2026. Businesses should draft new/review existing policies on bereavement leave to ensure these policies align with the new legal entitlements. If the business operates in Great Britain, their GB policies will provide a good basis as this entitlement is already law in GB.

The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order (Northern Ireland) 2022

Noncompliance with employment law is about to get even more costly as the upper limits applying to certain awards of industrial tribunals will increase from 6th April 2022.

The increases apply where the event giving rise to the entitlement to compensation or other payments occurs on or after 6th April 2022.

A major increase to note is the increase in the amount of compensatory award for unfair dismissal which is rising from £89,669 to £94,063.

Copacetic Business Solutions provides expert legal advice to businesses throughout the UK and Ireland to ensure they are complacent with employment law. Contact us before making decisions such as dismissing an employee to prevent employment-related claims from arising such as an unfair dismissal claim.

Contact our Employment Law Experts Here

Domestic Abuse (Safe Leave) Bill

The Domestic Abuse (Safe Leave) Bill aims to create a legal right to paid leave for victims/survivors of domestic abuse; and for connected purposes.

This is progressive legislation for Northern Ireland as it is the first of its kind and there are currently no equivalent laws in the UK or Ireland.

The bill has passed its final stage and will become law following royal assent.

The bill will provide employees and workers with the following entitlements:

  • At least 10 days paid leave in each leave year for workers and employees that have been a victim/survivor of domestic abuse.
  • This will be a ‘day one’ right.
  • Employees/ workers will have the right to be absent from work on ‘safe leave’. Safe leave is paid leave designed to be used to deal with issues related to domestic abuse such as: pursuing legal proceedings, finding alternative accommodation, protecting family members etc.

Employers must ensure their policies and procedures reflect this new legislation and they are providing the necessary support for employees who have been subject to domestic abuse.

The Fair Employment (School Teachers) Bill

The Fair Employment (School Teachers) Bill passed its final stage at the Northern Ireland Assembly on 24th March 2022.

The Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 outlawed discrimination on the grounds of religious belief or political opinion in respect of employment. However, Article 71: Paragraph (1) states the exemption of school teachers from the Order, to enable certain schools to maintain a religious ethos.

The objective of this new Bill is to remove the exception of teachers from the Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1998. Under the new bill, schools must ensure candidates applying for a teaching post or promotion are not discriminated against on the grounds of religious belief.

The bill is expected to come into force in the next two years.

If you have any questions regarding employment law legislation get in touch with us today at https://www.copaceticbusinesssolutions.co.uk/contact or call 07772 977023.