Important changes to employment law coming into effect in April 2024 and beyond

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There are a number of changes to employment legislation coming in 2024, with some being effective from April.   

This blog looks at the timeline of employment law changes that will be coming into force that will have a practical impact on organisations and employees including:

  • The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 (new statutory right)
  • Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023
  • The Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024
  • Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023

From April 2024, employees will be able to apply for up to one week of unpaid carer’s leave for a dependent with a long-term care need.

Employers cannot request evidence or decline the leave; however, leave may be postponed. Policies should be updated or created to reflect this new right and a system of record-keeping should be introduced to track entitlement. 

Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023

From April 2024, employers will be required to offer suitable alternative employment, if available, to an extended category of employees as part of any redundancy process.

For example, when making a redundancy selection people that fall into this category should automatically be discounted from the redundancy selection process.  

Employers will need to offer this to those employees who are pregnant, 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 the childbirth or the date of placement.

Family leave covers maternity, adoption and shared parental leave. Relevant company policies should be updated so that they reflect these upcoming changes. 

The Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024

From April 2024, regulations are due to come into effect which make changes to the way in which the statutory entitlement to paternity leave is exercised. The Four changes are:

  1. Instead of taking the entire two-week entitlement in consecutive weeks, employees can now separate their leave into separate one-week blocks.
  2. Employees can take their paternity leave any time in the 52 weeks after the birth or adoption of their child.
  3. Rather than the current 15-week notice period before the expected week of childbirth or adoption, employees will only need to give 28 days’ notice (4 weeks) before they wish to start paternity leave.
  4. Any dates specified for leave to be taken can be changed as long as an employer is given at least 28 days’ notice (when it is possible to give this notice).

Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023

From April 2024, employees can request flexible working from day one of their employment. Employers must consider requests and provide reasons if requests are rejected. 

Employees will have the right to make two requests annually and a decision must be made within two months.

Additionally, employees will no longer be required to explain the impact the change will have on the employer.

Other changes coming into effect this month

For all updated statutory pay rates please click here

Calculating holiday pay and leave – for leave years starting on or after April 2024

From April 2024, companies will be able to pay variable hours employees an additional sum in respect of holiday pay at each payment date, regardless of whether workers take their holiday in that period. 

If your company’s holiday year renews in April, then you could change the way you pay zero-hours workers immediately after this change comes into force.  

More upcoming changes

Streamlining TUPE consultations

For TUPE transfers taking place on or after 1 July 2024, small businesses with less than 50 employees and businesses of any size that are proposing to transfer fewer than 10 employees will now be able to consult directly with transferring employees if there are no existing employee representatives.

This will simplify the consultation process, saving companies time and money in the process.

Working pattern protections 

From September 2024, workers who have unpredictable working hours will have the right to request predictable working hours, days and times from their employers.

A response has to be provided within a month and dealt with reasonably. 

If your company engages with workers covered by these new protections, you should start considering how this will affect current contracts, working schedules and other related matters.

Enhanced obligations to protect employees from sexual harassment

From October 2024, companies must take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of their employees during their employment. 

Practically, employees should be required to attend regular, tailored anti-harassment training and companies should implement clear policies and procedures on reporting and handling incidents. 

Other things to consider

Non-competition limits 

Although no specific timeline has been provided yet, the UK government has expressed its intention to cap post-employment non-compete clauses to a maximum of three months.

Menopause

Recent case law has determined that menopause symptoms can be deemed as a protected characteristic (disability) for discrimination purposes.  Therefore, it is prudent for employers to consider implementing a menopause policy and training for managers and staff to promote awareness regarding an employee’s right to request reasonable adjustments the same as in any other disability situation.

General election

The next United Kingdom general election must be held no later than 28th January 2025. However, it is likely that it will take place sometime in 2024.

The Labour Party has made a “cast iron commitment” that an Employment Rights Bill will be produced within the first 100 days of office, should it win the upcoming General Election.

The bill is likely to contain day-one rights, such as the right not to be unfairly dismissed (i.e. changing this from its current two-year limit), uncapped unfair dismissal awards, a single definition of ‘worker’, and therefore gig economy rights, e.g. to holiday pay, as well banning zero-hours contracts, and the practice of firing and rehiring.

Something to consider now if your business will be significantly affected by these changes.

If you need assistance with any of the changes or any other HR related issue, please get in touch.

Harwood HR – HR Consultants providing HR Consultancy and HR Outsourced Services.  We provide clear, cost effective HR advice. For a free consultation, please contact us on:

0117 439 0119 or info@harwood-hr.co.uk

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