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Spring 2024 employment law round up

27th March 2024 by Alana Penkethman

Categories: What's New?
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‘This year is a busy one for employment legislation, after a few quiet years,’ Alana Penkethman, employment expert at Laceys Solicitors. ‘The Government has backed a number of private members’ bills which are now coming into force. In addition to the usual annual increases to statutory rates, there are several important changes that employers need to know about,’ Alana continues.

Record keeping under working time regulations

From 1 January 2024, the rules requiring employers to record their employees’ daily working hours have been relaxed. Instead, employers need to keep records to show compliance with the Working Time Regulations 1998.

Increased flexibility in taking paternity leave

Following the birth or adoption of a child, an eligible father or partner can take one or two weeks’ leave. The rules have become more flexible, allowing the employee to take the leave in two blocks of one week, rather than one block and allowing leave to be taken during the first year, rather than within eight weeks of the birth or adoption. Employees need to give notice 28 days in advance of each period of leave, rather than by 15 weeks before the expected week of birth. The notice provisions are unchanged for adoptive parents. The changes apply where the expected week of birth or the date for placement for adoption is on or after 6 April 2024.

Changes to law relating to holidays

Following Brexit, the Government has made relatively few changes to areas of employment law that were previously determined by European law. One area that is set to change is the law on holidays and holiday pay.

The changes include the introduction of two new definitions of workers and new rules relating to them, including rules about carrying forward leave. The new rules are intended to simplify the rules for workers, such as those who work term-time only and are paid by the hour, and casual workers. The most significant changes are outlined below.

Calculation of holiday entitlement

For leave years starting on or after 1 April 2024, holiday entitlement for some workers will accrue at a rate of 12.07 per cent (or a higher percentage if they are entitled to more than the statutory minimum) of the number of hours worked in each pay period. Provided they meet the new definition of a part-year worker or an irregular-hours worker, this should simplify calculating holiday entitlement.

Rolled-up holiday pay

Employers of part-year workers and irregular-hours workers will be able to opt to pay them rolled-up holiday pay; an uplift to pay of 12.07 per cent for holiday pay, rather than calculating and paying holiday pay at the time the worker takes holiday. Again, this applies to workers who meet one of the new definitions and in relation to leave years starting on or after 1 April 2024. Rolled-up holiday pay had previously been declared unlawful by the European courts.

Carry forward of leave due to coronavirus

The right to carry forward leave where it could not be taken due to coronavirus ended on 1 January 2024. Workers must have used up any such leave by 31 March 2024.

Extension of National Living Wage

From 1 April 2024, the National Living Wage, the highest band of the minimum wage, will apply to 21-year-olds, rather than workers aged 23 and over.

Increases in statutory pay rates

Employers should prepare for the annual increases in the following rates:

National minimum wage from 1 April 2024:

    • apprentices from £5.28 to £6.40 per hour;
    • workers aged 16 to 17 from £5.28 to £6.40 per hour;
    • workers aged 18 to under 21 from £7.49 to £8.60 per hour; and
    • national living wage – now from aged 21 and over, from £10.42 to £11.44 per hour

Sick pay from 6 April 2024 increases from £109.40 to £116.75 per week;

Family-related statutory pay from 7 April 2024, the rates of statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay, statutory shared parental pay and statutory parental bereavement pay increase from £172.48 to £184.03 per week.

Enhanced family-friendly protection in redundancy situations

In a redundancy situation, a woman on maternity leave is given priority to be offered any suitable alternative employment. From 6 April 2024, this protection will be extended to any employee who:

  • is pregnant and has told their employer that they are pregnant;
  • has returned to work from maternity leave, adoption leave, or shared parental leave and the baby was born or placed for adoption within the previous 18 months; or
  • has told their employer that they were pregnant and has had a miscarriage within the previous two weeks.

Extended right to request flexible work

From 6 April 2024, employees will be able to ask to work flexibly from the first day of employment, rather than needing 26 weeks’ service. Also expected to come into force on 6 April 2024 are a number of changes to the process. These include allowing an employee to make two requests to work flexibly in a 12-month period; previously only one was allowed. Employers will have to consult with employees about their request and reach a decision within two months, reduced from three. An updated Acas statutory code on requests for flexible working is also expected to come into force in April 2024.

New right to carers’ leave

From 6 April 2024, employees with a dependant with a long-term care need can ask for one week’s unpaid leave every 12 months to care for that dependant. This is a right from the first day of employment. Employees must give notice of a minimum of three days or at least twice the amount of notice as the period of leave, if longer. In some circumstances, employers can postpone the leave for up to one month.

TUPE consultation changes

For transfers taking place from 1 July 2024, the option to consult directly with staff, rather than elect employee representatives, will be more widely available. Direct consultation can take place if the organisation has fewer than 50 employees, or if fewer than 10 employees will transfer regardless of the size of the organisation. Currently this option is only available to employers of fewer than 10 employees.

Duty to prevent sexual harassment of employees

From October 2024, employers will be under a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent the sexual harassment of their staff during employment. Tribunals will be able to increase compensation by up to 25 per cent if an employer breaches this duty.  

Other changes expected in 2024

A few other changes are expected but the date has not yet been confirmed:

  • the Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023 will require employers to give all tips to workers without deductions and to ensure tips are shared fairly between staff in accordance with a new statutory code;
  • the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 will give greater rights to vulnerable workers. Agency workers and zero-hours workers will be able to request more predictable terms and conditions, include their working pattern; and
  • the draft statutory code of practice on ‘fire and rehire’ dismissals has recently been updated following consultation in 2023 and needs to be approved by Parliament.

How we can help

This is the most significant year of legislative change we have seen for a long time. We can help you get contracts, policies and practices ready for these changes so that your business does not get caught unawares.

For further information, please contact Alana on 01202 377 872 or email a.penkethman@laceyssolicitors.co.uk.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.

Alana Penkethman

Associate — Corporate and Commercial

Direct dial: 01202 377872

Email

  • “It’s a comfort to be able to rely on people who are professional and honest in their approach, having had to face a situation with difficult requirements for the first time it was always going to be challenging. Alana advised us all the way through, provided highly professional advise and options and helped guide us through to a successful end. We are truly happy with the service and will continue to use Alana and Laceys as needed.”

    Derek Wright

  • “I used Laceys for an employment related matter and was extremely satisfied with the service that they provided. Alana was everything that I could have hoped for: calm, professional, objective, reassuring and empathetic. I would not hesitate to recommend them.”

    Rick Nurse

  • “Alana helped me through a extremely difficult and emotional period in a professional and supportive manner. The process was over swiftly and I am very satisfied with the service, so thank you for everything.”

    Bradley Thompson

  • “At the outset Alana understood what I required. Explained the process, and delivered on the service. I was very happy with the process and outcome.”

    Andrew Taylor

Alana is an Associate in our Corporate and Commercial team and is an expert employment lawyer. She advises businesses and individuals on matters arising from recruitment to termination.

Alana provides pragmatic advice, ensuring problems are resolved as quickly as possible, and in turn minimising disruption and stress to both parties. When litigation is unavoidable, Alana excels in negotiations and will deliver robust representation.

Since qualification in 2011, Alana has developed a specialism in discrimination matters, and is passionate about equality in the workplace.

When Alana is not working, she enjoys flying with a hot air balloon team and is a keen cyclist. She also enjoys live music and plays the saxophone.

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