Spring 2024 Employment Law Updates

2024 is set to be a busy year for HR professionals and business owners as various new employment legislation will come into effect over the course of the year. We highlight the changes which will affect all UK employers large and small for the first half of 2024, and provide guidance on how to prepare. 

2024 Employment Law Changes In Focus:

1. The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 (6th April 2024) 

The Act will enhance the existing right for employees to request flexible working arrangements including making this a “day 1” statutory right from 6th April 2024.

2. Carer’s Leave Act 2023 (6th April 2024) 

1 week of unpaid Carer’s leave per year will apply to all employees and is intended to allow the employee to provide or arrange care for a dependant with a long-term care need. This legislation is separate to unpaid leave provisions for emergency care for dependants. 

Entitlement to this leave is a “day 1 right” with no minimum service requirement. As with other statutory leave entitlements, employers cannot penalise any employee choosing to take advantage of carer’s leave once it is brought into force. Dismissal of an employee for a reason connected with their taking carer’s leave will be automatically unfair. Employees are also entitled to return to the same job they were doing immediately before they took carer’s leave.

Unpaid carers leave can be taken flexibly, with a minimum of half a working day at a time. There is no need for leave to be taken on consecutive days. Employees are required to give notice, but this does not need to be in writing. Employees will be required to give notice which is either twice the length of time being requested, or three days, whichever is the longest. It is open to employers to waive the notice requirement provided the employee is otherwise eligible to take carer’s leave.

It is important to note the employee does not have to provide evidence of their caring responsibilities. Employers should instead consider creating a self-certification system for this type of leave, asking employees to declare they meet the legal definition of a carer, and to introduce a system of record keeping tracking the number of days taken. 

3. Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 (6th April 2024)
  • Employees will be able to take their two-week paternity leave entitlement as two separate one-week blocks (rather than having to take just one week in total or two consecutive weeks).
  • Employees will be able to take paternity leave at any time in the 52 weeks after birth (rather than having to take leave in the 56 days following birth).
  • Employees will only need to give 28 days’ notice of their intention to take paternity leave (reduced from the previous position that required notice to be given 15 weeks before the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC)).

The Regulations are stated to apply in all cases where the EWC is on, or after, 6 April 2024.  These proposed changes are therefore due to take effect at the same time as other family-friendly legal changes. These changes include the introduction of carer’s leave, changes to flexible working rights, and the extension of redundancy protection to include pregnancy, and a period of time following maternity, adoption, and shared parental leave.

4. Holiday Pay – The Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023 (SI 2023/1426).
Rolled up holiday pay allowed, and entitlement calculated at 12.07% of hours worked (1st April 2024) 

The regulations amend the Working Time Regulations (WTR) 1998 so that an accrual method may be used to calculate holiday entitlement for irregular hours workers and part-year workers. Entitlement will be calculated at 12.07% of hours worked in a pay period. This method will apply during the first year of employment and beyond.

The change will apply to holiday years beginning on or after 1 April 2024.

The regulations include that rolled-up holiday pay will be allowed for irregular hours workers and part-year workers. Rolling-up holiday pay involves paying an additional amount representing holiday pay for each pay period throughout the year, instead of paying holiday pay at the time annual leave is taken.

This change will simplify holiday pay calculations for employers with a workforce who work irregular hours. If you holiday year started on 1st January 2024 you may wish to consult with your workforce to change your holiday year to 1st April 2024 if you have many irregular and part-year workers. 

If your holiday entitlement is over 5.6 weeks (28 days) you will need to make an appropriate adjustment to the 12.07% calculation to reflect the amount of holiday you offer. 

5. The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 (6th April 2024)

Coming into force on 6 April 2024, this Act expands the current laws protecting pregnant employees or those on, or returning from, maternity/adoption/shared parental leave facing redundancy.

Currently, employees on maternity/adoption/shared parental leave have enhanced protections in redundancy situations, including the right to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy over other employees at risk, if one is available. The Act expands this protection to include pregnant employees, from the moment they notify their employer of their pregnancy, through to 18 months after childbirth. This gives these employees priority status for redeployment opportunities. Employees with priority status can still be selected for redundancy. The protection kicks in when it comes to the allocation of alternative roles. 

As these updates are legislative, it is fundamental that you comply with the new provisions by the implementation date. You will need to update your contracts of employment where applicable, and your relevant policies and procedures. Many of these employment law changes span numerous policies and procedures so now would be the best time to carry out a staff handbook/policies and procedures review. Remember to train managers on how to implement the procedures, and inform employees of the changes. 

Follow our News Articles and our Company LinkedIn page for regular employment and case law updates, HR best practice guidance on managing your workforce and industry insights. Stay tuned for our second 2024 employment law update this summer.

Contact us today for your 2024 suite of compliant HR policies and procedures and for support with implementation.