15
February
2024

Key employment law changes employers need to know for 2024

Employment law changes for 2024 are set to bring significant changes for employers and employees alike

Holly Navarro | Employment Solicitor

Several legislative changes are coming up within employment law in 2024, including the introduction of new employee rights, like carer’s leave, which aim to make the workplace fairer. The potential for a UK General Election adds an extra layer of complexity to the employment law landscape, making it more important than ever for employers and HR teams to be aware of how these updates will affect their business and the steps they must take to prepare.  

Our March Primas HR Hub roundtable will focus on everything you need to know about employment law in 2024, with our expert employment team providing dedicated advice and insights, as well as reactions to the Spring Budget on 6th March and the upcoming General Election. 

Here is a roundup of what to expect in the year ahead.

 

Jump to section:

 

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023

Under the existing legal framework, individuals on maternity, shared parental, or adoption leave are granted legal protection in redundancy situations. If an alternative role is available, they hold the right to be offered such a position as a priority over other employees also facing the risk of redundancy. 

From 6 April 2024, this new law will extend the priority status to pregnant employees and those who have recently returned from maternity/adoption leave and shared parental leave, as follows: 

1. Pregnant employee who takes maternity leave:
Protection starts when the employer has been notified of the pregnancy. Protection ends if either: 

  • The employer is notified of this before the end of maternity leave, 18 months from the child’s date of birth.  
  • The employer is not notified, 18 months from the Expected Week of Childbirth (date to be taken from MATB1 Form). 

The length of protection includes any time spent on maternity leave or other statutory leave.  

The new protection applies to pregnancies notified to an employer on or after 6 April 2024, and maternity leave ending on or after 6 April 2024. 

2. Employee who has suffered a miscarriage:
Protection for employees who have suffered a miscarriage starts when the employer has been notified of the pregnancy and ends two weeks after the end of the pregnancy for pregnancies ending before 24 weeks. 

It is important to note that pregnancies ending after 24 weeks are classed as stillbirths and the employee would be entitled to maternity leave. This protection is already in place under current law.

3. Employees taking adoption leave:
Protection from redundancy starts at the beginning of adoption leave and ends 18 months from date of placement. 

As with pregnant employees who take maternity leave, the length of protection includes any time spent on adoption leave or other statutory leave, and the new protection applies to adoption leave ending on or after 6 April 2024.

4. Employees taking shared parental leave:
Protection starts at the beginning of shared parental leave. If less than six weeks of shared parental leave is taken, protection ends at the end of this period. 

However, if more than six weeks of continuous shared parental leave is taken, protection ends 18 months from the child’s date of birth. 

The new protection in cases like this applies to employees taking at least 6 weeks of shared parental leave which begins on or after 6 April 2024. It should be noted that if the employee has also taken maternity or adoption leave, the aforementioned periods apply instead. 

Employers must also be mindful of the following: 

  • The extended protection only gives employees priority for any suitable alternative roles that may be available – it does not introduce a ban on making employees redundant during the protected period. 
  • There is no guidance or legal authority in place where there are more employees with priority status than there are suitable alternative roles – it is likely that employers will need to undertake a further selection process between the employees with priority status. 
  • There is no additional protection for employees taking paternity leave.

     

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 and The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023

In recent years, flexible working has become an increasingly discussed topic and in light of this, the statutory regime for flexible working is due to change from 6 April 2024 onwards. 

What are the changes to flexible working in 2024?
The right to request a flexible working arrangement is set to become a day one right for all employees. However, employees and employers should consider that this is a right to request flexible working, not a right to have. 

Employees will be entitled to make two flexible working requests that can be made in any 12-month period and are no longer required to set out what the effect of their flexible working request may be and how this could be dealt with by their employer.  

However, this may help employers understand all relevant information before a decision is made. A consultation meeting should be held without delay which should allow for a reasonable discussion and consideration of the request, and if the original request cannot be accepted in full, consideration should be given to alternative arrangements. Employers will have to arrive at a decision on a request within two months of this being submitted, rather than the current timeframe of three months. 

ACAS has published a new draft Code of Practice on requests for flexible working which provides statutory guidance and aims to help everyone understand the changes. This is currently in draft form but if approved, the Code will come into effect in April 2024. 

What is staying the same?
Employers can still reject a flexible working request if there is a genuine business reason not to and the grounds on which a request may be refused remain unchanged. 

Employees must still make requests in writing, stating that it is a statutory request for flexible working and include specific information such as the change they are requesting and the date on which they would like these changes to come into effect. 

There remains no statutory right to appeal a decision about a request for flexible working, however, the draft ACAS Code of Practice makes it clear that allowing an appeal is good practice. 

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

The main aim of this Act is to simplify annual leave and holiday pay calculations. These changes came into effect from 1 January 2024, but only apply to holiday years starting on or after 1 April 2024. 

Clarifying the definition of a week’s pay
When calculating holiday pay, all “normal remuneration” should be included. 

“Normal remuneration” is defined to include payments which are intrinsically linked to the role an employee is contractually obliged to do, such as commission, as well as other payments like regular overtime payments. For a payment to be classed as “regular” it must have been regularly paid to an employee in the 52 weeks preceding the calculation date. 

Permitting rolled-up holiday pay
For part-year employees and those working irregular hours, holiday pay calculations are to be simplified by making rolled-up holiday pay lawful again. This means that holiday will accrue at 12.06% of hours worked each pay period, capped at 28 days. 

Holiday pay will be based on average weekly earnings, ignoring unpaid weeks. It is important to note that these changes apply to part-year employees and those working irregular hours only. This does not impact how employers calculate holiday entitlement for regular hours employees.

Agency Employees: The Employees (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023

This Employees Act 2023 is intended to give employees and agency employees the right to request a predictable work pattern. Both employees and employers should be aware that this is a new right to request more predictable hours only, not a right to have automatic change. Employees must meet the following criteria in order to make a request: 

Minimum length of service:

  • This is expected to be specified in secondary legislation, but it is understood that an employee will need to have at least 26 weeks’ service. 
  • It is not yet confirmed whether this needs to be continuous service, however, the draft ACAS Code of Practice on handling requests for a predictable working pattern states that the employee must have worked for the employer at least once in the month in period before the 26 weeks leading up to the day of the request. 

A working pattern that lacks predictability:

  • It is an employee’s working pattern that must lack predictability. 
  • A working pattern refers to the number of hours the employee works, the days, and times they work, or the length of their contract.  
  • The draft ACAS Code of Practice states that a fixed-term contract of employment for 12 months or less is one type of working pattern which lacks predictability. Another example would be a zero-hours’ contract with no guaranteed number of hours. 

Scope and purpose of the request:
In making the request, an employee must seek to secure a more predictable work pattern. An employee may make two statutory requests for a predictable working pattern within any 12-month period; however, they may only have one live request with their employer at any one time. Requests remain live during any appeal or the statutory one-month decision period ends. 

 

These employment law changes for 2024 are set to bring significant changes for employers and employees alike. Proactive adaptation will be key for employers to navigate these changes to help maintain a compliant workplace and support employees as they interpret how these new laws impact them. 

Our expert employment team are on hand to support businesses, ensure they are up to date with the latest legislation and their policies are thorough, compliant and consider employee wellbeing. 

For more information or to understand how you could enhance your internal policies and procedures, contact the team via hrhub@primaslaw.co.uk

Share this