Last Updated on 10.1.23 by Amanda Isherwood
As 2023 gets into its groove, most of us have made New Year’s resolutions to make the year ahead better than the one before. Whilst New Year’s resolutions are not necessarily work-related, they can have an impact on the workplace. In this blog, we’ve set out a summary of some of the most common New Year’s resolutions that bleed into work:
1. Improve health and wellbeing
Losing weight and getting fit and healthy seems to be most people’s top resolution after the indulgences of December. However, health and well-being are about much more than shedding a few pounds. Going into the new year, some of your employees may be looking to make more holistic health changes. This could be a new exercise regime, better sleep hygiene, a meditation practice or even a healthier attitude to alcohol.
A healthy workforce is something all employers should strive for. Indeed, all employers have a legal duty to take reasonable care of their employees’ safety by providing a safe working environment… but this isn’t just limited to their physical health. Given the challenges ahead in 2023, we anticipate that mental health within the workplace will be an issue that needs to be addressed by many employers.
According to the government website, 1 in 6 employees in the UK reports having a mental health condition with 14.3 million working days lost per year due to anxiety, stress and depression. Based on these statistics, it is safe to say that investing in employee health and wellbeing is by no means money wasted, and employers may want to consider the following when reviewing how to improve their working environment in 2023:
- Promote a good work-life balance by encouraging employees to take breaks and their allocated leave entitlement.
- Keep employees engaged with regular appraisals and opportunities for progression.
- Improve mental health awareness within the organisation so it is not a taboo topic, promoting an open-door policy for any employees who are suffering.
- Encourage staff to speak freely about mental health and perhaps even introduce a “buddy” system so employees can help each other if organisation size permits.
- Have clear mental health policies and procedures that are updated regularly and are familiar to managers.
- Consider introducing additional benefits such as health insurance, cycle-to-work schemes and subsidised gym memberships which improve both physical and mental health.
It’s worth employers bearing in mind that employees suffering from stress, anxiety and depression may be protected under the Equality Act 2010 and therefore putting measures in place to avoid and improve employees’ poor mental health will help prevent costly legal claims later down the line and even increase productivity and reduce absence.
2. Spend more time with family
After having endured Covid-19 restrictions and time away from family and friends, many will want to spend more time with loved ones. This new era where flexible working is more normalised will mean this is a realistic goal.
On 5th December 2022, the government confirmed that employees will have the right to request flexible working from day one instead of having to wait until 26 weeks of employment as is the present state of play. This will mean employees will no longer have to “do their time” and “earn” their right to request flexibility. Other changes to the current flexible working regime will also be introduced as the government is supporting a Private Members’ bill (the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill 2022-23) which will introduce the following changes:
- A requirement for employers to consult with their employees before rejecting a flexible working request.
- Allowing employees to make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period instead of just one as the law currently stands.
- Requiring employers to respond to requests within 2 months instead of 3 months.
- Removal of the requirement for employees to set out how the effects of their flexible working request might be dealt with by their employer.
At present no set date has been announced for these changes to come into effect but given the government has been consulting on changing the flexible working regime since 2021, it may well happen in 2023. The changes to the flexible working regime will inevitably mean employers will need to amend their current flexible working policies and will likely see an increase in requests.
3. Find a new job/ earn more money
There was much talk of the so-called “Great Resignation” in 2022, with many employers finding that they had to make a particular effort to retain their most valued and talented staff by offering increased pay, flexible/remote working and additional benefits. Whilst a recession in 2023 may well make employees more reluctant to leave the stability of their employment, we suspect increased pay will remain high on employees’ work agenda given rising living costs and tax rises.
Given the financial strain many are suffering, we may see an increase in employees working second jobs. An employee taking a second job is not necessarily prohibited unless there is an exclusivity clause in their contract of employment preventing them from doing so. Employers should give careful consideration when taking on employees as to whether they wish to permit them to work a second job as doing so could affect their performance and become a health and safety issue if they become too tired and overworked. Employers should also consider whether the second job will mean a breach of the Working Time Regulations 1998, as time worked for another employer will count. There are of course benefits to allowing employees to work second jobs, including them gaining new skills and being able to earn extra income without relying on a salary increase.
If an employer decides that they would not wish to prevent employees from taking on a second job, it would still be advisable that they include a clause in their contract of employment that requires the employee to gain their consent first, not least to ensure they are not planning to join a competitor which would be grounds for disciplinary action.
It is worth highlighting that with effect from 5 December 2022, the Exclusivity Terms for Zero Hours Workers (Unenforceability and Redress) Regulations 2022 made exclusivity terms unenforceable in employment contracts of employees and workers whose net average weekly wages are less than the Lower Earnings Limit which is currently set at £123 per week.