Employment Law Updates for 2024

The Government has confirmed several legislative employment law changes to be implemented 2024, which aim to bring about a “fairer workplace for employees”.  The changes range from leave entitlement for workers through to changes in who can ask for flexible working hours and an employers role in preventative action on sexual harassment.

A summary of the changes and the dates that they are to be enacted can be found below.

Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023

Currently, employees on maternity leave have more rights and protection against being made redundant that other staff.  These protections allow employees on maternity leave the right to be offered first access of suitable alternative vacancies, over other at-risk employees.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 which came into force on 6 April 2024 modifies these protections to include employees who are pregnant, those who have recently suffered a miscarriage and those on family leave, for up to 18 months from the expected week of the child’s birth, the day of childbirth or the date of placement, as well as those on maternity leave.

As an employer if one is thinking about having to make redundancies steps would have to be taken to keep your pregnant staff in work before anyone else.  If you fail to do this then you could be open to a claim for sex discrimination and/or unfair dismissal.  In practice an employer will need to consider all its pregnant employees for suitable alternative roles before other employees from the moment they tell you about their pregnancy up to until 18 months after the birth of the child.  The same protection will apply to those employees who take maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

Paternity Leave (Amendment Regulations) 2024

This act came into force on 8 March 2024 and will apply to fathers of children who are born after 6 April 2024.

The act will allow fathers to divide their statutory paternity leave into two separate weeks, which they can take at any time during the first year (as opposed to currently having to take the leave in the 56 day period following birth).

Additionally, the act will change the current notice period from 15 weeks to only 28 days before the employee may go on paternity leave.

Carer’s Leave Act 2023

From the 6 April 2024, the Carer’s Leave Act founds new law that gives employees the right to take “statutory carer’s” leave.  The Act states that one week per year of flexible unpaid leave must be given for carers who are caring for a dependant with a long-term care requirement.

The aim of the act is to improve the work-life balance for carers, allowing them to attend to the needs of their dependant, without having to utilise their own annual leave.

It is important to note that this right will be classified as a day-one right, meaning that the employee will have access to this support from their first day with the company.   The employee will be able to take this leave “flexibly” but will have to give a minimum amount of notice of needing the leave.  This will be either double the amount of time requested to take or 3 days, whichever option is the longer.  As an employer you will not be allowed to refuse a carer’s leave request, but you will be able to postpone it if the leave would seriously disrupt your business operations.

Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023

Under this Act, which also comes into force on 6 April 2024, the government will ensure that employees have a “day-one-right” to make a flexible working request of their employer.  Previously employees could only make one flexible working request per year and they must have worked for the business for 26 weeks before they were allowed to make this request.

The new Act will allow employees from day one of their employment to make two flexible working requests within a 12-month period.

Employees will no longer have to explain the effect of the request on their employer, however there must be consideration of the request, and a mandatory consultation between the employee and employer before any decision is made. Employers must give reasons if a request is rejected, and these reasons under the Act remain unchanged.

The Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023

 This Act brings about changes which concerns holiday pay, working time and rights under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE).

  • Holiday pay:

Currently an employer must give holiday pay at the time that staff take the annual leave and one is not allowed to include holiday pay in your worker’s hourly rate (known as giving “rolled-up” holiday pay).  From 1 April 2024, these regulations will allow employers to provide rolled up holiday pay again, but only for staff who work irregular hours, like zero-hours workers and part-year workers.  This means that employers can calculate annual leave entitlement using the accrual rate of 12.07% of the hours worked in a pay period for employees who are employed under that basis.

The aim of these changes is to give workers a better understanding of their holiday entitlement, allow workers entitlement to better reflect the hours they work across a 12-month period, and  make it easier for employers to calculate the holiday entitlement for workers with irregular hours.

  • Working time:

The regulations confirm that employers will no longer have to keep records of workers daily working hours or rest periods.

It is still a requirement for employers to comply with the Working Time Regulations and to be able to demonstrate this.

The overall aim of this change is to remove the requirement to keep detailed records that were considered “time consuming”.

  • Changes affecting TUPE:

The regulations state that for any TUPE transfer occurring on or after 1 July 2024, businesses with less than 50 employees, or businesses transferring fewer than 10 employees, will be able to consult with employees directly if there are no existing employee representatives.

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023

From October 2024, the Equality Act 2010 will be amended to introduce the duty on employers to take “reasonable steps” to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace of their employees. Currently an employer is legally liable if your employee makes a claim for harassment and you cannot show that you did anything to prevent it.  But there is no legal requirement for the employer to take proactive steps to prevent harassment, such as having a policy or giving staff training for example.  Under the new amendment employers will be open to claims if they do not demonstrate that they have taken “active steps” to prevent harassment, regardless of whether an incident has happened or not.

Until there is development in case law regarding this regulation, we are unable to determine what “reasonable steps” may be. We can, however, practically assume that employees could be required to “attend regular anti-harassment training and employers should implement clear policies and procedures on reporting and handling incidents of sexual harassment.

How are these updates relevant to me?

Whether you are an employee or an employer, these updates are important to be aware of as they are going to bring about key changes into the UK workplace. As an employer it is important to be ahead of these changes so that any policies or procedures can be put in place ahead of the law being implemented.

As well as the changes detailed above other employment law changes due for 2024 include minimum staffing levels for key emergency sectors during strikes, changes to statutory maternity pay and sick pay rates as well as changes to the age criteria for being auto-enrolled in a pension scheme.

If you have any questions regarding these employment law updates or more generally as an employer or employee, then please click here to send us an email, or call us directly on 01279 818280. We are here to help.

(c) Richard Pelly, May 2024


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