Employment Law update – Changes coming in 2024

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Employers need to be aware of several areas where legislation is currently at various stages of development and upcoming changes in 2024.

January-April 2024

Working Time Regulations – holiday entitlement and pay reforms

From 1 January 2024, the Regulations confirm that employers do not have to record the daily working hours of each worker, provided they can demonstrate compliance with weekly working limits.

In addition, the following principles relating to the carryover of annual leave apply to:

a) Family-related leave

The Regulations specify that all workers must be allowed to carry holiday forward into the next holiday year if they have not taken it as a result of taking a period of maternity leave, adoption leave, shared parental leave, ordinary parental leave, paternity leave or parental bereavement leave.

They will be entitled to carry up to the whole 5.6 weeks entitlement into the following leave year.

b) Long-term sick leave

The Regulations also specify that workers must be allowed to carry holiday forward into the next holiday year if they have not taken it as a result of long-term sick leave.

Irregular and part-year workers will be entitled to carry forward up to 5.6 weeks on the condition this leave is taken within 18 months from the end of the leave year in which it is accrued. Regular workers will be entitled to carry forward up to four weeks entitlement.

c) Workers who have not had a reasonable opportunity to use holiday

Under the Regulations, a worker will be entitled to carry forward into the next year holiday that they should have been entitled to take if:

  • the employer has refused to pay a worker their paid leave entitlement
  • the employer has not given the worker a reasonable opportunity to take their leave and encouraged them to do so
  • the employer failed to inform the worker that untaken leave must be used before the end of the leave year to prevent it from being lost.

For holiday years beginning on or after 1 April 2024, holiday entitlement for irregular hours and part-year workers will be calculated using an accrual method throughout the holiday year. Entitlement for these workers will accrue at 12.07% of hours worked in a pay period, rounded to the nearest hour.

National Minimum Wage

There will be a significant increase from £10.42 to £11.44. This rate now applies to workers from 21 years of age (previously 23). Employers will need to check that employee salaries meet the new requirements by 1 April 2024.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act – will come into force on 6 April 2024

The Act applies to employees who are in a potential redundancy situation, giving them a right to be offered suitable alternative employment before being made redundant. It currently applies to employees on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave. The Act extends this priority status to employees who are pregnant or who have recently returned from maternity leave, shared parental leave (SPL) or adoption leave.

Note that the legislation does not prevent employers from including in a redundancy process or making redundant employees who are pregnant or who have recently returned from maternity leave, SPL or adoption leave. It gives these employees priority over any suitable alternative roles, should any be available. Where an alternative role is available, an employer which fails to offer this to priority employees may be liable to claims for automatically unfair dismissal.

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act – will come into force on 6 April 2024

Essentially, the key changes are:

  • employees are no longer required to have 26 weeks’ continuous service before making a formal request
  • employees will be able to make two flexible working requests within a year
  • employers will be required to deal with requests within two months of a request being made
  • employers must consult with the employee if they are turning down a request
  • when making a request, employees no longer have to give an explanation of what the impact of the new working arrangement will have.

There is no legal obligation on the employer to offer a right of appeal if the flexible working request is refused. However, it is still considered best practice, and the ACAS Code of Practice on Flexible Working supports this.

Employers should ensure their management team is up to date with the changes and employees are aware of the new rights. Policies on flexible working must be updated in line with the changes.

The Carer’s Leave Act – will come into force on 6 April 2024

This Act will introduce an entitlement of one week’s unpaid leave per year for employees who are providing or arranging care. This means employees will no longer have to rely on other types of unpaid leave to accommodate their carer responsibilities.

Employers should also note that employees will not be required to provide any evidence of how or for whom the leave is being used, and employees must not suffer any detriment as the result of taking carer’s leave. Employees will, however, be required to ‘self-certify’ their carer’s leave, and the person being cared for must have a long-term care need.

The Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 – will come into force on 6 April 2024

New parents will be able to take statutory paternity leave at any point in the first year after the birth or adoption of their child (currently, leave must be taken within the first eight weeks) and will be able to split their leave into two separate blocks of one week (rather than having to take two consecutive weeks).

The notice period is also changing. Under current legislation, employees must give notice that they intend to take leave 15 weeks prior to the expected week of childbirth. This will be shortened to 28 days’ notice. However, notice of entitlement must still be given 15 weeks before the birth or expected date for adoption.


The Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023

Changes to these regulations will affect TUPE transfers taking place on or after 1 July 2024.

The requirement to elect employee representatives will be removed for the purposes of consultation for:

  • organisations with less than 50 employees
  • organisations of any size involved in a transfer of less than 10 employees.

This will mean that employers who meet the above criteria can consult directly with their employees, without any need for employee representatives.

The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act

The Act will make changes to the allocation of tips for hospitality businesses and will come into effect on 1 July 2024.

The Act requires employers to:

  • pass on all tips and service charges to staff with no deductions other than those required by tax law
  • have regard for the statutory Code of Practice on Tipping when they are distributing or influencing the distribution of tips. The code dictates that there needs to be transparency and fairness
  • have a written policy on how tips are dealt with at their place of business and ensure this policy is made available to all their workers
  • a right for workers to request information relating to their employer’s tipping record over a specified period during which they had worked for the employer within the last three years. Employers will have flexibility on how to design and communicate a tipping record but will need to respond to a request for information within four weeks
  • a requirement for tips that are distributed via a tronc to be paid no later than the end of the month following the month in which they were paid by the customer
  • a right for agency workers to benefit from the Act in the same way as workers.


Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023

The Act comes into force in September 2024 and will give people in atypical work, such as zero-hours or temporary contracts, the right to request a more predictable working pattern.

Key points:

  • the qualifying period is likely to be 26 weeks of service. Note that those weeks will not need to be continuous
  • up to two applications can be made in any 12-month period
  • the application must specify the change being applied for and the date it should take effect
  • the request could relate to hours of work, days of work or periods of engagement
  • employers must reasonably consider any requests and inform the worker of their decision within one month
  • requests may be refused where an employer considers that one or more of a number of grounds
  • if a request is approved, employers must confirm the new terms within two weeks from the date the request is granted.

ACAS are producing a draft Code of Practice which will provide guidance on how to handle requests. The Code will not be legally binding but will be taken into account by courts and employment tribunals when considering relevant cases.


Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill

The Act contains some of the most significant changes to workplace discrimination law in the UK since the 2010 Equality Act. It will come into force in October 2024.

In summary, the Bill:

  • puts a new onus on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace – employers now have a legal duty to take “reasonable steps” to proactively prevent sexual harassment in the workplace
  • re-introduces protection against harassment of employees by third parties e.g. clients, customers and employer liability for any such harassment
  • provides for an uplift in compensation of up to 25% where an employer has failed to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of its employees in the course of their work.

In light of this Bill, employers may want to review their current Bullying and Harassment policies and reporting procedures and think about ways in which they can be proactive in the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace e.g. providing training and awareness programs for employees at all levels, implementing an effective system for investigating and addressing reported incidents, identifying risk areas and putting preventative measures in place.

Contact our employment law solicitors today

If you have any questions regarding any of the issues raised in this article, please do not hesitate to contact our specialist Employment Law team by using our online enquiry form or by calling 0330 191 5713.


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