Employment Law Updates 2024

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It’s almost halfway through April which means, since the start of this week, many of the employment law changes anticipated since last year have now come into effect. More will follow later this year but employers should be aware of the amendments that now require to be made to their handbook policies, if not already made. There are also changes that require brand new policies to be put in place. Take a look at the list below for a quick guide to the changes that have been made to the legislation and the key points that employers need to know.

Holiday entitlement changes (1 January 2024)

Earlier this year, the Working Time Regulations 1998 were updated with various changes including:

  • Allowing the carry-over of holidays from the previous leave year in situations where the employee was unable to take holidays due to family leave or illness.
  • Relaxation of the requirement to keep records of employee hours; employers need to keep “adequate” records instead of records of all daily working hours.

Also, for leave years starting from 1 April 2024, following a consultation by the Government it is now permitted to roll-up holiday pay for irregular-hours and part-year workers. As such, employers may calculate holiday accrual for irregular-hours and part-year workers based on 12.07% of hours worked in the previous pay period. Workers who were off on certain types of leave may be entitled to have their accrual based on average working hours over a 52-week reference period instead.

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National Living Wage (1 April 2024)

This has been the largest increase ever to national minimum wage. The new rates from the start of this month are:

  • For employees over 21: £11.44 per hour.
  • Employees between 18-20: £8.60 per hour.
  • Employees between 16-17 and apprentices: £6.40 per hour.

Flexible working requests (6 April 2024)

Following the changes to this regime, any flexible working policies should be updated with the following changes:

  • Employees will have a day one right to make a flexible working request rather than the previous 26 weeks service requirement;
  • There is no longer a requirement for employees to explain the effect of their request on the company;
  • Employees can make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period (increased from one); and
  • Employers have a shorter time to respond to requests (decreased to two months from three months previously). Employer must also consult with employees about alternative working arrangements before rejecting a request.

Maternity and family leave – extended redundancy protections (6 April 2024)

Previously, only employees currently on maternity leave had the right to be offered suitable alternative roles over other employees in a redundancy situation. From 6 April 2024, this protection has been extended to a “protected period” beginning with the date the employee informs their employer of their pregnancy and lasts for the full pregnancy up to a period of 18 months from the first day of the expected week of childbirth (EWC) (or the child’s birth if born prematurely). The redundancy protection period for pregnant employees has therefore been significantly increased.

Similar safeguards now also apply to employees on adoption or shared parental leave.

Carer’s leave (6 April 2024)

The Carer’s Leave Act came into force on 6 April 2024 introducing employees’ day-one right to one week of unpaid leave annually to care for a dependent with long-term care needs.

  • Requests can be made in consecutive, non-consecutive or half days.
  • Dependents do not have to be family members, but can be anyone who relies on the employee for care.
  • Care responsibilities can relate to disability, old age, an illness or injury lasting for more than 3 months.
  • Carer’s leave cannot be refused but can be postponed if the business would be unduly disrupted, but employers must explain their reasons and leave has to be granted within one month of the initial request.

Paternity leave (6 April 2024)

For EWC or adoption placement on or after 6 April 2024

Employees now have the option to take the two-week paternity leave entitlement as two separate blocks of one-week each. Paternity leave can be taken anytime in the 52 weeks after birth and employees only need to give 28 days’ notice of their intention to take paternity leave (previously 15 weeks).

We are still awaiting further updates from the Government on Neonatal leave and pay (expected second half of 2024) and the changes to the law around preventing sexual harassment (expected in October 2024). We outlined what employers can expect from these changes in our previous blog, Employment Law Changes in 2024.

If you are an employer and would like more information on the new legislation, would like help to update your policies and handbook or have any other questions, please contact us.

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