Changes to Employment Laws in April 2024

From For job seekers, For employers category

On 6 April 2024, a number of revisions to employment regulations will come into effect.

The alterations have resulted from multiple laws that were approved within the past two years. These include primarily Private Members’ Bills that received backing from the Government, as well as accompanying secondary legislation.

The modifications mentioned are relevant for England, Scotland, and Wales, but do not extend to Northern Ireland as employment law is under separate governance there.

Revisions to Flexible Working

Workers now have the opportunity to submit two flexible working requests per year, as opposed to only one. Additionally, the time frame for employers to respond to these requests has been shortened from three months to two months.

Employers are required to provide an explanation for rejecting any requests, while employees are no longer obliged to justify the consequences of their requests. The list of justifiable reasons for employers to deny requests remains unchanged, including considerations such as financial implications for the company or potential effects on productivity, performance, or ability to fulfill customer needs.

The Employment Rights (Flexible Working) Act 2023 was responsible for implementing these modifications. Additionally, employees can now submit such requests from the beginning of their employment, thanks to a different piece of secondary legislation, eliminating the previous 26-week waiting period.

To learn more about this specific legislation, please refer to the Library briefing on the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill 2022-23.

Leave for Caregivers

Workers are currently eligible to have the option of taking a one-week unpaid break per year in case they have responsibilities for caring for others.

This policy pertains to all staff members who are responsible for the care of a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, or other dependent who requires assistance due to a disability, advanced age, or any illness or injury that necessitates at least three months of care. The leave benefit is applicable from the initial day of employment without any eligibility period.

According to the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 and its corresponding Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024, this entitlement was established. For further details on this law, please refer to the Library briefing on the Carer’s Leave Bill 2022-23.

Enhanced safeguard against duplication for expectant employees

Employers are now required to provide protection from redundancy to employees who take specific types of parental leave for a minimum of 18 months. This safeguard guarantees that if their position becomes redundant, the employer must offer them the first opportunity to apply for any other suitable vacancies. However, if there are no suitable vacancies available, employees may still be made redundant. This protection was previously only available during the employee’s duration of maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave.

The period of protection for pregnant employees now starts from the day the employer is informed of the pregnancy and lasts for 18 months after the child’s birth. This coverage also applies for 18 months after the adoption date for parents who take adoption leave, or for 18 months after the child’s birth if a parent chooses to take at least six weeks of shared parental leave.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 and the Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 were responsible for implementing these modifications.

To gain further knowledge about this law, please refer to the Library briefing on the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill 2022-23.

Increased flexibility for paternal leave

Employees who are eligible for statutory paternity leave and pay now have the option to divide their two-week entitlement into two one-week periods instead of taking them consecutively. Additionally, they have the flexibility to take their two weeks of leave at any point during the first year following their child’s birth, as opposed to the previous requirement of only within the first eight weeks.

Employers now require a 28-day notice from employees for each week of leave, which has decreased from the previous 15-week notice. Nevertheless, employees are still expected to provide notice of their anticipated entitlement 15 weeks prior to the expected date of delivery.

The Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 were responsible for implementing these modifications, as stated in the official document.

Updates planned for 2024

Additional modifications are anticipated to take effect in the latter part of 2024:

  • By July 2024, employers will be required to adhere to a new law and code of practice for the fair and transparent distribution of tips and service charges to their employees. This information can be found on the UK government’s website.
  • The practice of ‘fire and rehire’ will be addressed through a new code of practice, expected to be in effect by summer 2024. More information on this can be found in the Library briefing on the topic.
  • Eligible workers will have the right to request more consistent working schedules due to a new law, which is expected to be in effect by September 2024.
  • Starting from October 2024, employers will be obligated to take reasonable measures to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, as stated by a new law.

For more details on these changes, visit the UK government’s website and stay updated with the forthcoming revisions.

For recruitment opportunities and to stay informed about evolving employment laws, contact Larkspur Group in Kent.

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