Employment Law updates to watch out for in 2024
Some important Employment Law updates came into effect on 1 January 2024, to make the workplace fairer. This article explains some of the key pieces of legislation coming into force, as well as the dates when they will take effect.
Changes to Holiday Pay and entitlement
From 1 January 2024, the government introduced changes to the Working Time Regulations 1998, particularly in relation to holiday rights for irregular hours or part-year workers. For more information on this, please see our article where are expert law team break the changes to holiday pay and entitlement and the impacts
Changes to the flexible working regime from 6 April 2024
There will be new requirements that Employers will have to comply with when The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 comes into force. This will:-
- Require an employer to consult with an employee if it is considering rejecting a request;
- Permit employees to make two requests in a 12-month period instead of one. The further request can only be made after the same employer has considered and rejected the first request and not during the consideration period;
- Reduce the time in which an employer must respond to a request from three months to two months (although the parties can agree to a longer consideration period should this be required);
- Remove the requirement for employees to specify how the employer might deal with the effects of the flexible working request. For example, the employee does not have to suggest a proposed working pattern in their request.
The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 will also come into force on 6 April 2024. The Regulations amend the current Flexible Working Regulations provide that the right to make a flexible working application can be made when an employee begins employment. This means that employees no longer have to wait to be employed by their employer for more than 26 weeks before making the request. Any future applications made on or after 6 April 2024 will not require the 26 weeks continuous employment before making the application.
Extending redundancy protection to those who are pregnant and maternity leave returners from 6 April 2024
Currently, if you select an employee for dismissal on the grounds of genuine redundancy it will be automatically unfair on the grounds of discrimination if it is for a reason connected to pregnancy. This is because this category of people has a protected period in which, if they are selected for redundancy, it will automatically become unfair.
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 came into force earlier in 2023 and the Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 were considered in Parliament on 11 December 2023 (‘The Regulations’). The Regulations are set to come into force on 6 April 2023 and at that point the following redundancy protection periods will be applicable.
Please see the table below.
|Protected period Start Date
|When an employee tells the employer, they are pregnant
|If entitled to statutory maternity leave – on the date the maternity leave starts.
If pregnancy ends and no entitlement to statutory maternity leave – two weeks after end of pregnancy.
|The date on which maternity leave starts
|If the employer is told the date of birth – 18 months after the date of birth
If not – 18 months after the expected week of birth.
|Date of child’s placement or the date they enter Great Britain (for overseas adoption)
|18 months after the child’s placement or the date they enter Great Britain (for overseas adoption)
|Shared parental leave
|Date of child’s birth, placement or date they enter Great Britain for overseas adoption
|18 months after the child’s birth or date of placement or date they enter Great Britain (for overseas adoption)
Employment Law update regarding Unpaid carers leave
The Carers Act 2023 gives entitlement for unpaid carers to take up to one-week unpaid leave per year. This new right will come into force from 6 April 2023. The draft Carer’s Leave Regulation 2024 sets out the details of the new right and has been laid before parliament.
An employee who has a dependant who has a long-term care need may take one week’s unpaid leave to provide or arrange care in each rolling 12-month period. The leave may be taken as unpaid days, half days or a block of up to one week.
Dependant = spouse, civil partner, child or parent of the employee, live in the same household as the employee (otherwise than by reason of being the employee’s boarder, employee, lodger or tenant), or reasonably rely on the employee to provide or arrange care.
Long-term care need = If one of the following is applicable:
- They have an illness or injury (whether physical or mental) that requires, or is likely to require, care for more than three months.
- They have a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.
- They require care for a reason connected with their old age.
Rolling 12-month period = a rolling 12-month period often counts backwards when being used to calculate the amount of leave an employee has accumulated. Counting backwards would mean that if the employee has already taken their full week’s entitlement within the previous 12 months then they cannot take any additional time off in this regard. If for example, they take the leave split into days and half days, for example, taking the first day on 1 May 2023, in May 2024 they will be entitled to take another day as part of their week as the 12 months since this leave was taken has lapsed.
The notice period for the leave request is either twice as many days as the period of leave required or three days whichever is greater. The notice does not need to be made in writing and there is no requirement for an employee to provide evidence to their employer to support the request.
An employer is unable to deny the request altogether but can postpone the request for one of the following reasons:
- The operation of the business will be disrupted, under the reasonable consideration of the employer, if allowed leave during the period required.
- The employee is able to take a period of carer’s leave for the same duration within a month of the period initially requested.
- The employee is given written notice within seven days of the request. This notice sets out the reasons for the postponement and dates where leave is agreed.
Where there is also a contractual right to take carer’s leave an employee will only be permitted to take advantage of the right that is more favourable to them. However, the employee will be afforded protection in that they will be protected from a detriment and a dismissal because they requested carer’s leave.
How can we help?
If you have any questions relating to any of the Employment Law updates mentioned or would like further information regarding these changes and how they may impact your business… Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558, our Employment team is on hand to assist you with all you need to know.
We’re here for you.
Find out more about our Employment Law services here.