Have you heard the latest news?
Welcome to HR Heartbeat, where we give you a rundown of the week's top employment law stories. Stay on the pulse of current trends impacting your business, plus get up-to-the-minute commentaries on all things HR and legal.
New UK visa rules
The government has suggested tougher measures to cut migration that will come into place in Spring 2024 (subject to Parliamentary approval).
The main suggested measures are:
- Increasing the minimum salary for skilled worker visas
- Banning care workers from bringing their family dependents to the UK
- Annual immigration health surcharge will increase
- Greater fines and civil penalties for employing illegal workers
- The Government has announced the minimum salary needed to get a skilled worker visa will increase from £26,200 to £38,700. It won’t apply to the health and social care workers, who account for 50% of people on work visas in the UK.
Another measure that’s been proposed is banning health and social care workers from bringing their dependants to the UK.
Alongside this, the introduction of a requirement for care firms in England to be registered by CQC to be able to sponsor visas.
The annual immigration health surcharge is also set to rise. It’s payable by foreign nationals who are subject to immigration control, who are applying for temporary leave to enter the UK for more than 6 months, and who are not exempt. If approved by Parliament, it will rise from £624 to £1,035 from 16 January.
The other change, which has previously been announced, is the civil penalty when an employer is found to have employed foreign workers unlawfully will increase. From 22 January it will grow to £45,000 per illegal worker for a first breach and up to £60,000 for repeated breaches.
For more advice on this topic, ask BrightLightning:
- What are the visa rules for employing foreign workers?
- What is a health and care work visa?
- Which medical professionals can get a health and care worker visa?
Carer’s Leave Act 2023 on track for 2024 implementation
The remaining sections of the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 have now been released. However, there are still more details on the regulations to come, such as the date that this Act will come into effect.
Once introduced, employees will be entitled to one week’s unpaid leave each year to provide or arrange care for a dependant with a long-term care need.
So, until the next steps have been released, which is expected in April 2024—get advice on this topic by asking BrightLightning:
- What is carer’s leave?
- What does long term care mean for carer’s leave?
- [Can carer’s leave be taken in half day blocks?](https://lightning.brighthr.com/?shareCode=X4f-jzjgIcf3buO0q54xdsGaY6MPzhQNHi3Bi1Rh6f4=&knowledgeBase=general&desiredQuestionText=Can-carer's-leave-be-taken-in-half-day-blocks?_
“Fire and rehire” consultation response due Spring 2024
It’s been announced that the Government’s response to the consultation on the draft Statutory Code of Practice on “fire and rehire” practices, and the final version of the Code, will be published in Spring 2024.
After P&O Ferries dismissed around 800 employees without consultation the Government launched a consultation in January 2023 seeking views on the use of dismissal and re-engagement to bring about unilateral changes to employee terms and conditions.
- Can I fire and rehire?
- What is the process to change employee terms and conditions?
- Will the new statutory code of practice on fire and re-hire apply to redundancy dismissals?
Minimum service levels in place for passenger rail & ambulance services
The regulations have been approved by Parliament meaning from 8 December 2023, minimum service levels for passenger rail and ambulance services are in force.
Employers can, therefore, impose the minimum service levels on workers and unions during strike action that takes place after 8 December.
Even if notice of the strike had been given previously or if the date of the strike ballot was on or before 20 July 2023 which is when the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023 came into force.
And that’s a wrap. Tune in next week for more headlines and make sure you stay ahead of major employment law changes!