Senior knowledge lawyer at law firm TLT Sarah Maddock, reviews upcoming changes in employment law owners and managers of pubs and bars need to be aware of.

Fire and re-hire

You may remember the outrage in the press in the wake of the mass dismissals of P&O Ferries staff. This led the government to review the practice of dismissal and re-engagement (or, ‘fire and re-hire’). Whilst the government stopped short of banning this process, it has committed to introducing a statutory Code of Practice.

Consultation on the draft code closes on 18 April 2023 and it will come into effect as soon as Parliamentary time allows. An unreasonable failure to comply with the code will incur an uplift of 25% on compensation for any relevant unfair dismissals.

It is unlikely that the main aspects of the draft code will change, so what does the draft cover? Employers will be required to: 

  • communicate the business rationale for the proposed dismissals;
  • engage in meaningful consultation with employees;
  • reassess plans in light of the above; and
  • dismiss as a last resort.


Minimum wage increases

In the more immediate future, the annual minimum wage increases take effect from 1 April 2023, as follows.

  • Workers aged 23 and over: from £9.50 to £10.42 per hour.
  • 21 to 22-year-olds: from £9.18 to £10.18 per hour.
  • 18 to 20-year-olds: from £6.83 to £7.49 per hour.
  • 16 to 17-year-olds: from £4.81 to £5.28 per hour.

Payroll systems will need to be updated to take account of this change, staff notified of the increase and budgeted payroll costs for the coming financial year will need to be re-visited.

And with the current economic outlook, many managers in the hospitality industry will be taking a very close look at budgeted costs. Some employers are considering cutting costs by cutting back on paid breaks for staff. But is this legal? In short, yes and no. Workers generally have the right to a 20 minute break every 6 hours, and a daily rest period of at least 11 hours in every 24 hour period. However, workers do not have the right to be paid for rest breaks. But, whilst cost savings could be made by introducing unpaid breaks, culturally and contractually it may be difficult to implement.


Sexual harassment - legal reforms 

Managers should be alive to two new legal reforms on their way relating to sexual harassment:

  • a new statutory Code of Practice on preventing sexual harassment and harassment at work; and
  • a new duty on employers to take positive steps to prevent harassment by third-parties: this will cover harassment of staff by members of the public in venues, as well as by other third-parties e.g. contractors and suppliers.

Neither of these changes have a date for introduction but the relevant legislation is currently working its way through Parliament and will come into effect one year after the legislation is passed. 

If you want to get ahead of the curve before the Statutory Code of Practice is published, take a look at the existing technical guidance published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), ‘Sexual Harassment and Harassment at Work’. The EHRC has stated that the Statutory Code will be based on this guidance. Separately, we recommend reviewing the specific EHRC guidance for the hospitality industry, ‘Preventing Sexual Harassment at Work: a Checklist and Action Plan.’



Q.I have heard there are changes in the law which make me liable for any harassment my staff may receive from customers – is this correct?

You currently have a legal obligation to protect your staff from harassment (unwanted conduct relating to a protected characteristic) from other members of staff. Proposals working their way through Parliament will place greater responsibility on employers as the changes seek to extend this to include harassment from members of the public that staff may be subject to in the course of their employment. We will provide updates on this important issue as the legislation works its way through Parliament

Q. I would like to make my pub dog-friendly. What can I do to ensure I’m doing this the right way?

There are a few things you may want to think about: Firstly, dogs and food prep areas do not mix, so make sure this is clear and staff are aware. After that, it’s more about ensuring that you provide the necessities for ‘dog friendliness’. Water bowls and designated areas of shade are a good start. It is worth considering how other customers may react- especially for food-led businesses- so do you want a designated dog area? After that it is about advertising yourself as dog friendly and welcoming your four-legged friends!


Read more from Pub & Bar's April edition: Pub & Bar Apr 2023 (

This article was first published in Pub & Bar. 

Date published

12 April 2023


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