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Employment law changes: a 2024 update

02 May 2024

Our employment law & business immigration team have put together a useful timeline to help you and your business keep on top of developments throughout the year.

For several years, employment law has not appeared to be top priority for legislative development. With the likes of covid-19 and Brexit stealing the limelight, we have seen very few substantive changes. 2024, however, is shaking this up and we will finally see some significant developments this year.

January

1 Impacts on various areas – perhaps most notably the definition of ‘disability’ – which will amend the evaluation of ‘normal day-to-day’ activities to consider a person’s ability to participate fully and effectively in working life on an equal basis with other workers.

  • Changes can also be found in:
  • indirect discrimination
  • equal pay claims
  • discrimination in recruitment processes
  • protection for new mothers.

2 Criteria includes businesses:

  • with fewer than 50 employees; and
  • with any number of employees where a transfer of fewer than 10 employees is proposed.

Note: Despite these amendments coming into effect on 1 January, they will only apply to transfers taking place on or after 1 July 2024.

April

3 The new rates are as follows:

  • National living wage (NLW) for those over 21 increased to £11.44
  • National minimum wage (NMW) for those aged 18-20 increased to £8.60, while increasing to £6.40 for apprentices and those under 18
  • Those aged 21+ are now entitled to receive NLW. Different NMW rates continue to apply for those aged 18-20 and 16-17, and apprentices aged under 19 within the first year of apprenticeship.

4 For leave years commencing on or after 1 April 2024, employers:

  • may introduce rolled-up holiday pay
  • must calculate holiday pay based on the 12.07% accrual method.

5 Employees who are recognised carers are now entitled to the following:

  • a day one right to take one week’s unpaid carers leave (in days, half days or as a block) in any 12-month period to provide support/make arrangements for a dependent requiring long term care (note: the notice period needs to be at least two times the length of the leave being taken)
  • the right to return to their original job
  • the right to claim damages if their employer unreasonably postpones, attempts to prevent or deny this leave protection against dismissal for use of this leave.

6 All eligible employees will:

  • have the choice of taking their two weeks of paternity leave in either two one-week blocks or a single block of two weeks
  • be able to take their leave within one year of birth/placement of adoption
  • have to provide four weeks’ notice prior to leave.

Note: Notice will still need to be given at least 15 weeks prior to the expected week of birth.

7 The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 will make the right to request flexible working a day one right. Additionally, the following changes will take place before the end of July 2024:

  • employees can make two requests per year
  • employees no longer have to explain the effects of their request on the business
  • employers will have two months to respond
  • employers must consult with the employee before rejecting their request.

There is new ACAS guidance here.

8 Extended to protect pregnant employees as soon as they notify their employer of pregnancy, to 18 months after childbirth. It will be inclusive of those who on or after 6 April 2024 are notifying their employer:

  • they are pregnant; and/or
  • their maternity/adoption leave ends; and/or
  • those whose shared parental leave ends.

The above listed employees will also have the right to claim automatic unfair dismissal if their employer fails to adhere to these new obligations.

May

9 Employers will have the duty to:

  • ensure tips are allocated fairly amongst staff
  • ensure payment of tips are made before the end of the following month
  • ensure there is a written policy in place
  • ensure workers have the right to bring a claim if the employer fails to comply.

September

10 Agency workers and qualifying workers will have the option to request a more predictable work pattern in instances where:

  • their work pattern isn’t predictable
  • the changes sought are linked to their working pattern
  • the goal is to achieve a more predictable work pattern.

Up to two applications can be made separately throughout the year (inclusive of being separate to flexible working requests which aspire to have a similar effect).

October

11 Employers will have a statutory duty take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. If employers breach this duty:

  • employment tribunals will have the power to increase compensation by 25%
  • the Equalities and Human Rights Commission will have the power to investigate these breaches and take enforcement action.

If you need any help or have questions relating to the changes we have seen or will see this year, please get in touch with our team.

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Our Legal 500-rated employment law & business immigration team are experts in guiding businesses of all sizes and backgrounds through a range of issues that may arise, including those related to updated legislation.

Disclaimer: All legal information is correct at the time of publication but please be aware that laws may change over time. This article contains general legal information but should not be relied upon as legal advice. Please seek professional legal advice about your specific situation - contact us; we’d be delighted to help.
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Klára Grmelová MGR (LLM Czech)
Solicitor
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