2024 Look Ahead: Employment Law Changes (and How to Prepare)

Home ADVICE & GUIDANCE 2024 Look Ahead: Employment Law Changes (and How to Prepare)
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As we close the door on 2023, we look ahead to 2024, which is set to be a big year for Employment Law changes.

In this article, we look at some of the key employment legislation changes and upcoming developments for your HR diary.

1. The Carer’s Leave Act (Commencement) Regulations 2023

The Carer’s Leave Act will take effect on 6th April 2024.

Employment law updates mean employees will be entitled to:

  • Up to 5 days of unpaid leave in a 12-month period to provide for or arrange care for a dependant with long-term care needs.
  • The entitlement is the employee’s right from day one of employment.

What Is Meant by A ‘Long-Term Care Need’?

A dependant of an employee has a long-term care need if:

  1. They have an illness or injury (whether physical or mental) that requires or is likely to require care for more than three months,
  2. They have a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 or,
  3. They require care for a reason connected with their old age.

Who Is Classed as A ‘Dependant’?

  1. A spouse, civil partner, child, or parent of the employee,
  2. Lives in the same household as the employee by reason of being the employee’s boarder, employee, lodger, tenant, or
  3. Someone who reasonably relies on the employee to provide or arrange care.

Can Employers Refuse A Request for Carer’s Leave?

Under current employment laws, potentially, yes, but only where the business operation would be unduly disrupted. However, employees will be able to reschedule the leave within one month of when the original date of the leave was due to commence.

It is important to note that employment regulations state that employees must not suffer any detriment as a consequence of requesting time off for this purpose. Detriments include but are not limited to dismissal, loss of hours or pay, being overlooked for promotion, or facing disciplinary action.

Under the new employment legislation, it is not anticipated how or if an employee will need to evidence the care needs of the person they require time off to support, but it is envisaged that the employee should provide notice of twice the amount of time they require off. For example, if they need a day off to accompany a relative to a medical appointment, they should provide two days’ notice.

2. Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023

Currently, an employee at risk of redundancy who is on maternity leave, adoption leave, or shared parental leave has the right to be offered any suitable alternative employment vacancy available.

This means, for example, that if someone on maternity leave is at risk of redundancy, they will be given first refusal for any suitable alternative employment without having to go through any kind of selection process, such as interviews or scoring/selection criteria.

Employment laws state this protection currently ends on the employee’s return to work.

The finer details of these employment law changes are yet to be announced, but the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 will come into force on 6th April 2024 and will extend this protection as follows:

  • Pregnancy/Maternity: From the point the employer is informed of the pregnancy and 18 months after the expected week of birth or the exact date of the birth.
  • Adoption: The protected period includes 18 months from placement for adoption.
  • Shared Parental Leave: The protected period is for the period of 18 months from birth, during which six consecutive weeks of shared parental leave have been taken.

This new employment legislation does not mean that employers cannot select those for redundancy if they are pregnant, on adoption leave, or on shared parental leave, nor does it mean that a job has to be created where one doesn’t exist. These new employment laws mean that during the protected period, the employee’s right to be offered suitable alternative employment in a redundancy situation is protected.

3. The Flexible Working (Amendments) Regulations 2023

Also known as making a ‘statutory application’, a flexible working request is a request from an employee to change their contract; usually, it is a request to change their working hours, shift patterns, or working location.

The employee’s right to request flexible working is a legal entitlement, and any attempt by the employer to prevent an employee from asserting a statutory right could result in an Employment Tribunal claim.

Under current employment laws, an employee can only make one request in a 12-month period and must have 26 weeks of service.

The Flexible Working (Amendments) Regulations 2023 come into effect on 6th April 2024 and enhance the current flexible working rights as follows:

  • Granting the employee’s right to request flexible working from day one of their employment.
  • Allowing employees to make two flexible working requests in a year.
  • Employees will no longer have to set out the impact of their request on the company when their request is submitted.
  • Employees will be entitled to be fully consulted before their request for flexible working is rejected.
  • Under the employment law updates, employers must make their decision regarding a flexible working request within 2 months (3 months currently).

As always, employers should remain vigilant for any requests to change working patterns and seek advice from Avensure at the earliest opportunity.

4. National Living/Minimum Wage Increases

Employment laws state that some types of workers are not entitled to the minimum wage; these include (but are not limited to) those who are genuinely self-employed, company directors (please note – directors who have an employment contract are entitled to the minimum wage), those under the school leaving age, and voluntary workers.

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

*For more information, please see our guide to the minimum wage increases here!

5. Statutory Payment Increases

Employment law updates from April 2024, the rates below will increase as follows:

  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): £116.75 per week
  • Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP), Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) and Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (SPBP)

£184.03 per week (or 90% of the employee’s weekly earnings if that amount is lower).

  • The lower earnings limit — the amount someone must earn to be entitled to these payments will remain at £123 per week.

6. The Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2023 – 1st January 2024

These employment regulations will introduce changes covering holiday pay, working time, and TUPE.

  • Rolled-up holiday pay is where the employer pays the employee for their holiday as a ‘rolled-up’ payment, usually as an enhanced hourly rate of pay, rather than paying the employee their holiday pay when they take a period of annual leave.

This practice was common for those types of workers who did not work contractual or regular hours, such as those who work under what is known as ‘atypical contracts’ such as zero-hour contracts.

Under current employment laws, this practice is currently unlawful, but as part of its intentions to simplify the laws regarding holiday pay, the government will reintroduce rolled-up holiday pay, but only for those with irregular hours or those who work for part of the year, such as seasonal workers.

  • Holiday pay for irregular hours and part-year workers. Following the Supreme Court Judgement in Harper Trust vs. Brazel in 2022, the 12.07% percentage method for the calculation of annual leave accrual for part-year workers (such as term-time workers) and irregular hour workers (such as zero hours) was removed.

This meant that these types of workers could end up receiving more holiday than their year-round, contractual-hour working colleagues. Not surprisingly, it caused an uproar, and the government announced a consultation on its use.

Next year, the 12.07% method will be reintroduced as a means of calculating leave for those who work irregular patterns of work or for part-year workers. However, this and the entitlement to pay rolled-up holiday pay will apply to annual leave years starting on or after 1st April 2024, and we will produce further guidance on these changes in the new year.

  • Working Time: The requirement to keep a separate record of daily working time for all staff will no longer apply. Records of working time should still be kept, ensuring compliance with working time and minimum wage regulations.
  • TUPE: TUPE stands for Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment). A TUPE transfer occurs when an organisation, or part of it, is transferred from one employer to another. This can include a sale, a takeover, or when a service or contract is transferred to a new provider. TUPE regulations require employers to consult with the workforce and require employers to notify their staff of their right to elect employee representatives where there is no trade union recognition.

This can be quite cumbersome for smaller businesses. Therefore, with effect from the new year, small businesses, i.e., those with fewer than 50 employees or where the TUPE Transfer involves fewer than 10 employees, the employer will be able to consult with affected staff on an individual basis.

Need advice?

Struggling to follow the new employment laws for 2024? Worried it might affect your business?

Contact us today and speak with one of our experts about your specific challenges. Discover how Avensure can provide you with the necessary support.

Click here: Avensure Contact!

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