InsightsInsight - Employment & HR - UPDATED: January 16 2024
Employment Law Update 2024
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2024 looks to be an exciting year for employment law changes, although we appreciate this is not necessarily the news employers want to hear. It will not be a surprise that there will be the usual increases to National Minimum and Living Wage and Family Payments, but alongside these updates there are some key legislative developments that should be on employers’ radar.
We summarise the upcoming employment law changes below in our employment law update 2024.
Pay Costs – National Minimum/Living Wage
From 1 April 2024 the following rates will apply:
23 and over: Current – £10.42, new – N/A
21 to 22: Current – £10.18, new 21 and over – £11.44
18 to 20: Current – £7.49, new – £8.60
Under 18: Current – £5.28, new – £6.40
Apprentice: Current – £5.28, new – £6.40
These are significant pay increases, reflecting steep inflation levels and ongoing cost of living increases.
Family Friendly Leave
The Government has published its proposals for pay rates for family leave to be applied from April 2024. There will be an increase in the following family payments:
- Statutory maternity pay
- Statutory paternity pay
- Statutory adoption pay
- Statutory shared parental pay
- Statutory parental bereavement pay
The rates will increase from £172.48 per week, to £184.03 per week.
From April 2024, statutory sick pay will increase from £109.40 per week, to £116.75 per week.
The increase may have a knock-on effect on employers who offer enhanced or company sick pay schemes.
The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act was passed on 20 July 2023 and will come into force on 6 April 2024. Key provisions in this act include:
- Employees will no longer have to explain what effect their requested change may have on the employer and how any such effect might be dealt with.
- Employees will be entitled to make two requests (instead of one) in any 12-month period.
- Employers will not be able to refuse a request unless the employee has been consulted.
- Employers will have to make a decision in two months (reduced from three months), subject to agreeing a longer decision period.
The Government has also referred to the right to request flexible working becoming a ‘day one’ right, so removing the current requirement for an employee to have at least 26 weeks’ continuous employment by the date of the request.
Carer’s Leave Bill
The Carers Leave Act was passed on 24 May 2023, and will come into force on 6 April 2024.
This Act will introduce a day one right for one week’s unpaid leave per year for employees that provide or arrange care for a dependant with a long-term care need.
Dependants include partners, children, parents, people living in the same house as the employees and people who reasonably rely on the employee.
This leave can be taken as partial or full days and can be taken flexibly at different times to suit an individual’s caring responsibilities.
Employers should be aware that following this Act coming into force employees will be protected from dismissal or detriment due to taking this leave. If an employer dismisses an employee because of this leave, it will be an automatic unfair dismissal.
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act was passed in May 2023 and is awaiting seven statutory instruments to implement it. It is expected to come into force around April 2025.
This Act provides up to 12 weeks’ paid leave for parents of babies that need neonatal care. This will be accompanied by the right to pay (expected to be at the statutory prescribed rate or, if lower, 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings) for employees with a parental or other personal relationship with children receiving neonatal care.
These rights are available to parents of babies who are admitted to hospital up to the age of 28 days and who are in hospital for seven full days or more.
The Employment Allocation of Tips Act was passed on May 2023 and is expected to come into force in July 2024.
Under the Act employers will have a duty to ensure that all of the qualifying tips are allocated fairly to workers (including agency workers) and that employers make payment in full no later than by the end of the month in which the tip was paid. Alternatively, if it is fair, an employer can pay the tips to an ‘independent tronc operator’ (a body acting independently of the employer) who will then allocate to workers.
Employers are to have a written policy on how to deal with tips and are to keep a record of tips received and how they have been allocated.
Redundancy Protection for Pregnancy and Family Leave
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act was passed on 24 May 2023 and is awaiting implementing regulations which are expected “in due course”.
Previously, in a redundancy process an employer has an obligation to offer those on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave suitable alternative employment (if it exists) as a priority over other employees provisionally selected for redundancy. Failure to do so being automatically unfair.
This Act will expand the entitlement to be offered suitable alternative employment where a vacancy exists from notification of the pregnancy for a period up to 18 months after birth or adoption.
The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act will come into force on 26 October 2024.
This Act introduced a new duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of its employees during the course of their employment.
The Act also gives employment tribunals the power to uplift sexual harassment compensation by up to 25% where an employer is found to have breached the new duty to prevent sexual harassment.
The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023 has superseded the Transport Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill 2022 – 2023.
This Act allows the Secretary of State to make Minimum Service Levels (MSLs) via regulations for strikes in ‘relevant services’ including health.
Where a strike is called in a service to which MSLs apply, the employer may, after consulting the union, give the union a ‘work notice’, identifying the workers that are required to work and what they are required to do to ensure MSLs are met during the strike.
The Act allows MSLs in certain sectors including fire, ambulance, and rail services during strikes. The government is considering using MSLs to protect patient safety during strikes and nurse and doctors could be covered by new regulations.
Working Time Regulations, Holiday Pay and TUPE
The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 has abolished certain EU law relating to Working Time Regulations and TUPE. The Government has drafted regulations in order to fill the gap left after the repeal of relevant EU law.
The Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023 enforce proposed changes to holiday pay, TUPE and working times that are to come into force between 1 January and April 2024.
This will introduce several changes including:
- Enabling rolled-up holiday pay for irregular hours and part-year workers
- A basis for holiday accrual for irregular hours and part-year workers, based on 12.07% of the hours worked in the previous pay period.
- Simplifying record-keeping requirements to maintain the requirement to keep “adequate” records, but this doesn’t necessarily need to be a full record of daily working hours
- Restating in legislation the ability to ‘carry-over’ holiday in certain situations
- TUPE consultation policies for smaller businesses (those with fewer than 50 employees)
Employers should make sure they update their practices and policies to be in line with these changes including the carry-forward of leave.
It is clear this is going to be a year of change and the Brachers Employment and HR team will continue to update as developments occur. For more in-depth guidance or support on the issues covered in our employment law update 2024, book a free 30-minute consultation with a member of our Employment team today.
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This content is correct at time of publication
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