Insights

Nighat Sahi

Published 7 May 2024
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Employment Law Update 2024

It’s the time of year when there is normally a flurry of employment law changes, and this year has been no exception. With this in mind, our employment law update brings you some of the main employment law developments that may affect you.  

National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW)

As usual, from 1 April, the NMW rates increased as follows:

  • For apprentices, from £5.28 to £6.40 per hour
  • For 16 to 17-year-olds, from £5.28 to £6.40 per hour
  • For 18 to 20-year-olds, from £7.49 to £8.60 per hour

The NLW now applies to all workers aged 21 or over and has increased to £11.44 per hour. Live-in domestic workers (i.e. nannies and au pairs) are now entitled to the NMW.

Sick pay, maternity, parents and carers

Statutory Sick Pay has increased from £109.40 to £116.75 and Statutory Maternity and Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay, Statutory Shared Parental Pay and Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay have also increased from 6 April from £172.48 to £184.03 per week.

Holiday pay and leave

In January, we shared details of the forthcoming changes to rolled-up holiday pay. The changes have now come into force and mean that from 1 April, employers can pay rolled-up holiday pay (in lieu of the employee taking a period of annual leave). Many employers did this already.

However, rolled-up holiday pay can only be paid to part-year workers and irregular-hours workers. Holiday entitlement for these workers will accrue at the rate of 12.07% of the hours worked during that pay period.

Changes to flexible working 

We wrote about the introduction of new flexible rules last year and these have now come into force.

The new rules provide that employees can request flexible working from day one of a new job, without having to wait the 26-week qualifying period. 

Employees can also now make two requests a year for flexible working (previously it was one) and employers must respond within two months (previously three months). Employers have to explain the reasons for denying any request, whilst employees no longer have to explain the impact of their request.

However, there are no changes to the list of reasons employers can use to refuse requests (i.e. cost or impact on the business, etc.).  

Carer’s leave 

In January, we also shared details of the new carer’s leave provisions. These mean that employees are now entitled to take one week of unpaid leave a year if they have caring responsibilities. Carers are eligible from the first day of their employment and can take the leave flexibly to suit their caring responsibilities. Employees are not required to provide evidence of how the leave is used or who it will be used for.

The provisions apply to any employees who are caring for a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, or other dependant who needs care because of a disability, old age, or any illness or injury likely to require at least three months of care.

Extension of redundancy protection

Employees on maternity leave, shared parental leave, or adoption leave, were already entitled to be offered alternative employment if their position was at risk of redundancy.

This was in preference to other employees. This protection has now been increased and from 6 April:

  • Pregnant employees are protected from the moment they notify their employer of their pregnancy and for an 18-month period after the birth of their child
  • Employees who have taken adoption leave are protected for 18 months from the date of placement or, in the case of overseas adoptions, from the date the child enters the UK
  • Employees taking fewer than six weeks’ shared parental leave have additional protection during their period of leave
  • Employees who take more than six continuous weeks of shared parental leave will be protected for 18 months after the birth

It’s important to bear in mind, that employees can still be made redundant if no suitable alternative role exists within the organisation.

Increased flexibility for paternity leave 

From 6 April, fathers and partners can now take their paternity leave as two one-week non-consecutive periods or two consecutive weeks. They can also take their leave at any time within the first year after their child’s birth. In most cases, employees must give employers 28 days’ notice for each week of leave (previously 15 weeks).

In domestic adoption situations, employees must still give seven days’ notice of having received notice of being matched with a child.

Other changes expected later this year

There are a number of other employment law changes anticipated later this year. These include changes to TUPE and the rules surrounding when employers can consult directly with employees, and new Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act provisions requiring employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of employees in the course of their employment.

A new Code of Practice in respect of dismissal and re-engagement is expected in the autumn, as is a new statutory right for eligible workers to request a more predictable working pattern. As always, we’ll keep you posted on these new developments as they evolve.

However, if you have an employment issue or think you may be affected by these changes, please contact Nighat Sahi at: nighat@rswlaw.co.uk

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