This April sees a raft of employment law changes coming into force, requiring employers to update staff policies and ensure that managers are briefed.  Below is a quick checklist, along with links to our earlier more detailed posts. The post has also been updated with guidance published by the government/ Acas on 6 April

 

Please do get in touch with your usual HSF contact if you would like further information or assistance with updating policies.

Changes to flexible work requests: all proposed changes now confirmed for 6 April

  • Regulations were made earlier in the year making the right to request flexible working a day one right from 6 April 2024.
  • A second set of regulations was required to bring amendments to primary legislation into force, including to allow two requests a year and shorten the time for employers to respond to two months.  On 29th March these regulations were finally published on the government legislation website, confirming the 6 April commencement date.  Acas’s revised statutory code also comes into force on 6 April.  See here for further details of the changes and here for details of revisions to the Code.  Flexible work policies will need to be amended and managers made aware of the key changes, in particular the shorter timeframe for responding and the need to consult with the employee before rejecting a request.
  • Acas has previously said that it will publish non-statutory guidance to accompany the code – this was not yet available at the time of writing.  Update: Acas published the guidance on 6 April, available here.

Changes to family leave rights

  • New right to unpaid carer’s leave: day one right to up to one week’s leave (unpaid) per rolling 12 months, to provide or make  arrangements for care of dependants with long-term care needs. See here for more details. Employers may want a stand-alone policy or to consider adding the new right to any existing policy covering time off for dependants.  Where other family leave policies cross-reference rights for carers, it may also be worth updating these to flag which types of leave should be used for which purposes. Update: guidance on the new right to unpaid carer’s leave has now been published by the government here, and by Acas here.
  • Minor changes to paternity leave and pay: paternity leave policies will need updating to reflect that employed fathers and partners (of children whose EWC/expected date of placement for adoption is after 6 April 2024) can now take paternity leave as two separate weeks at any time in the first year from birth;  the notice requirement for planned dates is also reduced to 28 days. See here for further details.

Changes to redundancy protection – priority over vacancies

The priority over suitable alternative vacancies, if provisionally selected for redundancy, will be extended to cover employees who are pregnant and, for those taking maternity, adoption or shared parental leave (where a minimum 6 consecutive weeks’ shared parental leave have been taken), for the period through to 18 months after childbirth/adoption (in addition to during the leave itself).  See here for more detail.  We have recorded a podcast on these changes, along with a more detailed briefing reviewing these and other recent changes to the law on redundancies, available to clients on request.

Changes to Working Time Regulations: irregular hours/part-year workers’ annual leave

On 1 January 2024 the Working Time Regulations were amended to introduce changes to the method of statutory holiday accrual and to permit rolled up pay for irregular hours and part-year workers – these changes come into force for leave years starting on or after 1 April 2024.  See here for details of the changes and here for points arising from government guidance.

As bonus season approaches, it may also be worth considering the impact of the amendments on statutory holiday pay entitlement in relation to bonuses.  As discussed in our previous post, there is a concern that the changes made to the regulations to codify the right to normal remuneration during holiday could capture more bonus schemes than traditionally thought, and the design of the scheme may influence the the risk of claims.  Relevant factors will include whether the bonus is intrinsically linked to performance, the regularity of payment and whether taking statutory holiday potentially reduces the amount of bonus.  Please do get in touch if you would like to consider this further.

Update: The government issued updated guidance on 1 April, here. This now confirms that annualised salary workers (such as many teachers) can qualify as part-year workers, and states that whether or not an annual bonus falls within the definition of normal pay will depend upon the nature of the bonus.

Changes to caps on tribunal compensation, statutory benefits and minimum wage

  • From 6 April 2024, the cap on the unfair dismissal compensatory award increases from £105,707 to £115,115 and the cap on weekly pay (used to calculate the unfair dismissal basic award and statutory redundancy pay) increases from £643 to £700. This gives a maximum unfair dismissal award of £136,115 (or, if less, 12 months’ pay).
  • The bands for injury to feelings awards have also been increased for claims presented on or after 6 April 2024;  the lowest band starts at £1,200, the middle band at £11,700, and the highest band starts at £35,200 with a cap of £58,700 (save in exceptional cases).
  • From 6 April 2024 the weekly rate of statutory sick pay increases to £116.75 (from £109.40) and from 7 April 2024 the weekly flat rate of statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay increases to £184.03 (from £172.48).
  • The national minimum wage rates increase from 1 April 2024. Workers of 21 years and older will be entitled to be paid a minimum national living wage of £11.44 per hour (previously £10.42 for those aged 23 years+ and £10.18 for those aged 21 or 22).

And a quick reminder of other changes expected later this year…

  • The Government’s revised draft statutory code on dismissal and re-engagement is awaiting parliamentary approval and is expected to be brought into force ‘later in the Summer’ – see here for more details.
  • For TUPE transfers taking place on or after 1 July 2024, employers with no appropriate employee representatives in place will be allowed to inform and consult affected employees directly where (i) they employ fewer than 50 employees in total, or (ii) there are, or are likely to be, fewer than 10 transferring employees (whatever size the employer is).
  • A new right to request predictable terms is expected in September 2024 (see here). This would give workers and agency workers the right twice a year to request a predictable work pattern where their contract is for 12 months or less or is for an unpredictable number of hours or days of the week or times, subject to a 26 week service requirement.  Acas has consulted on a draft Code but has yet to publish a final version.
  • From 26 October 2024 the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act will introduce a new proactive duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment (ie, unwanted conduct of a sexual nature) of employees in the course of employment.  The EHRC is expected to publish a new statutory code of practice in the near future (likely to be based on the EHRC’s technical guidance published in January 2020, discussed here), and employers will then need to take appropriate steps to comply with the duty.  Policies and manager/staff training will need reviewing and likely updating to reflect the new code.
  • The Government has backed a Private Members’ Bill, the Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Bill, to improve leave rights for fathers or partners where a mother, or a person with whom a child is placed or expected to be placed for adoption, dies.  Details and timing are still to be confirmed.
  • The General Election!  Listen to our podcast for a discussion of Labour Party employment law proposals.
Anna Henderson
Anna Henderson
Professional Support Consultant, London