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Insights

Employment Law Changes: What’s in Store For 2024

Posted on 25th January 2024 in Employment

Posted by

Joanna Parry

Associate and Solicitor
Employment Law Changes: What’s in Store For 2024

There is a lot happening in Employment Law in 2024. In this insight we summarise the key changes to look out for. 

 

Changes to Holiday pay from 1 January 2024

Our recent insight explains in detail the new rules around calculating holiday pay. The reforms make some important changes to the Working Time Regulations 1998, including:

-       Clarifying the definition of ‘a week’s pay’

-       Calculating holiday entitlement for irregular and part-year workers

-       Paying rolled up holiday pay

-       Changes to carrying over holiday from one leave year to the next

-       Removing the Covid-19 carry-over rules

Extension To Protection From Redundancy: Pregnancy And Family Leave

Currently, The Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999 state that parents on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave should be offered first refusal of any suitable alternative available job in a redundancy situation. With effect from 6 April 2024, this redundancy protection will be extended as follows:

-       Maternity Leave – the protected period will cover the entire pregnancy and the 18-month period from the child’s date of birth or the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC) if the employer is not notified of the exact date.

-       Miscarriage – for pregnancies ending before 24 weeks, the protected period will start when the employer has been notified of pregnancy and end two weeks after the end of the pregnancy. Pregnancies ending after 24 weeks are classed as stillbirths and the employee would be entitled to statutory maternity leave (and covered by the above protection).

-       Adoption Leave – the protected period will be 18 months from the date of placement for adoption.

-       Shared Parental Leave (SPL) – if the parent has taken at least 6 consecutive weeks of SPL, the protected period will be 18 months from the birth/placement. If the parent has taken less than 6 weeks of SPL, the protected period will end at the end of the SPL. However, the protected period does not apply if the employee has also taken either maternity or adoption leave.

The extension to the protected period takes effect where the employer is informed of the pregnancy on or after 6 April 2024 and maternity/adoption leave ending on or after 6 April 2024. With regards to SPL, the extension to the protected period applies to employees taking at least 6 weeks of SPL which begins on or after 6 April 2024.

Paternity Leave

The Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulation 2024 will make changes to paternity leave and will apply where the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC) is after 6 April 2024 or where children are expected to be placed for adoption with the adopter on or after 6th April 2024. The changes can be summarised as follows:

  • Paternity leave will be able to be taken in two separate blocks of one week each, instead of having to take one continuous period.
  • Paternity leave can be taken anytime in the 52 weeks after birth or placement for adoption – this is a change from the previous requirement where leave had to be taken within 56 days.
  •  Employees will only need to give 28 days’ notice of intention to take paternity leave.

Carer’s Leave Regulations

From 6 April 2024 employees will be able to apply for up to one week’s unpaid carer’s leave in any 12-month period. The leave will allow employees to provide or arrange care for dependents with a long-term care need. It is a day one right, meaning there is no minimum service requirement. Employees will have the same protection from dismissal or detriment as other family related leave such as time off for dependents.

Changes to Flexible Working Requests

Flexible working requests made on or after 6 April 2024 require no minimum service, making it a day one right. Employees will be entitled to make two requests (instead of one) in any 12-month period and employers will have to respond within 2 months (reduced from 3 months).

Changes to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE)

There will be an amendment to TUPE to remove the requirement to elect employee representatives for employers with fewer than 50 employees and employers of any size involved in a transfer of fewer than 10 employees. In either case, the employer will be able to consult directly with employees, where no existing employee representatives are in place. This change applies to transfers taking place on or after 1 July 2024.

Right to Request Predictable Working Patterns

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 will introduce a statutory right for eligible workers, agency workers and employees to request a more predictable working pattern. An eligible worker may apply for a change to their terms and conditions of employment with the purpose of obtaining a more predictable working pattern if:

      i.        there is a lack of “predictability” in relation to the work they do for their employer and in respect of any part of their working pattern; and

    ii.        the change sought relates to their “working pattern” – this could be hours, days, contract period etc.

There is no obligation on the employer to agree a request, but the employer must deal with the application in a reasonable manner and an application may only be rejected for specific reasons. The Act is expected to come into force in September 2024.

Sexual Harassment at Work

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 will introduce a new duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment at work. If an Employment Tribunal finds that an employee has been sexually harassed, and the employer had not taken reasonable steps to prevent it, then the Tribunal can order an uplift on the compensation awarded of up to 25% of the amount awarded. This Act is due to come into force from October 2024. Our recent insight explains the changes in more detail.

Statutory Code on dismissal and re-engagement ‘Fire and re-hire’

The government has announced that a new statutory code on dismissal and re-engagement will be published. Government consultation ended on 18th April 2023, and it is expected that the code will come into force later this year. The draft code sets out employers’ responsibilities when seeking to change employment terms and conditions, requiring employers to consult with employees in a fair and transparent way. The code will allow Employment Tribunals to apply an uplift of 25% on compensation where the code applies and has not been followed.

Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 will allow eligible employed parents whose newborn baby is admitted to neonatal care to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave. The exact timeframe for implementation of this legislation is not yet known, but the new leave and pay entitlements are expected to come into force in April 2025.

National/ Living Wage and Statutory Payment Increases

The National Living Wage age threshold will be lowered to 21 (having previously applied to all workers aged over 23). The following National Minimum Wage new hourly rates will apply from 1 April 2024:

  • Age 21 and over = £11.44
  • Age 18 to 20 = £8.60
  • Under 18 = £6.40
  • Apprentice rate = £6.40

From 6 April 2024 there will also be an increase to statutory payments as follows:

  • Statutory maternity, adoption, paternity, shared parental pay = £184.03 per week
  • Statutory sick pay = £116.75 per week

If you would like further advice on any of these changes, contact our specialist employment team.

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