Our HR partner, Citrus HR’s legal team have put together a handy update on the employment law changes to be aware of for the coming year. These neatly fall into two groups—some things we know will change, and another list of changes which we expect will happen next year, but which are not yet certain.
Natalie and Sandra run our Professional Services desk, focusing solely on roles with HR, Finance, IT and administration. Feel free to get in touch with them for a confidential chat about the current market, and how we can be of help! You can find their details at the end of this blog.
Definites for 2024...
Increases to National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage Rates and Statutory Rates for Maternity, Family Leave, Sick Pay and Redundancy Pay:
From 1st April 2024 minimum wage rates will increase as follows:
Workers aged 21 and over – increase to £11.44
Workers aged 18 to 20 – from £7.49 to £8.60
Workers aged 16 to 17 – from £5.28 to £6.40
Apprentices – from £5.28 to £6.40
Accommodation offset rate will increase to £9.99
The following statutory rate increases will also apply from April 2024:
The weekly rate of statutory sick pay will be £116.75 (up from £109.40).
The weekly rate of statutory maternity pay, maternity allowance, statutory paternity pay, statutory shared parental pay, statutory adoption pay and statutory parental bereavement pay will be £184.03 (up from £172.48).
The average earnings an employee needs to earn to be entitled to these statutory payments will remain at £123.00
An increase to the cap on a week’s pay for calculating statutory redundancy payments is expected but has not yet been announced.
Changes to the calculation and payment of holiday
From 1st January 2024, there will be a statutory definition of “normal pay” to calculate holiday pay for workers with regular hours, but who receive regular additional pay such as commission, allowances or overtime. Workers will also have the right to carry over unused holiday entitlement if they can’t use it due to family-related leave or sick leave, or if their employer won’t allow them to take it.
For holiday years from 1st April 2024, “irregular hours” and “part-year” workers will accrue holiday at 12.07% of hours worked, and holiday pay may be paid as an addition to wages – this is known as “rolled-up” holiday pay.
Changes to the Right to Request Flexible Working laws to make it a ‘Day 1’ right.
The government has confirmed that it will extend the right to request flexible working to all employees as a “day one” right. Currently, the right only applies after employees have completed 26 weeks of service. This new ‘day 1’ right will come into effect for flexible working requests made on or after 6 April 2024.
The procedure will also require employers to consult with employees before declining any flexible working request; allow employees to make up to two requests in any 12-month period; and remove the need for employees to set out how they expect their employer might deal with any difficulties caused by their request.
Carer’s Leave Regulations
A “day one” right for employees to take up to one week’s unpaid leave each year to provide or arrange care for a dependant with a long-term care need.
A “dependant” includes a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, person who lives in the same household, or person who reasonably relies on the employee for care.
Leave can be taken in one block or in full or half-day instalments.
“long-term care” includes illness or injury that requires, or is likely to require, care for over 3 months; a disability; care due to old age.
Employees will be able to “self-certify” their entitlement but must give notice, in writing, of their intention to take carer’s leave – confirming their entitlement to take it and giving at least twice the amount of notice than the period of leave requested. Or, if longer, 3 days’ notice.
Employers can postpone a request if the operation of the business would be unduly disrupted.
Carer’s leave entitlement will have the same employment protections from detriment and dismissal as other forms of family leave.
The Regulations are due to come into force on 6th April 2024.
Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023
Under current laws, an employer has an obligation to offer an employee on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave an alternative role (if one is available within that company or a group company) as a priority over anyone else who is provisionally selected for redundancy – failure to do so is automatically unfair. However, this obligation is only for the duration of the leave itself.
The new law extends redundancy protection as follows:
for maternity – the protected period will cover pregnancy, extending to 18 months after the first day of the estimated week of childbirth or 18 months from the exact date of birth, if the employee gives the employer notice of this date prior to the end of maternity leave.
for adoption – the protected period will cover 18 months from placement for adoption.
for shared parental leave – the protected period will cover 18 months from birth, provided that the parent has taken a period of at least 6 consecutive weeks of shared parental leave (if maternity or adoption provisions above don’t apply).
The extension of the protected period will apply to any maternity and adoption leave ending on, or after, 6 April 2024, and for any shared parental leave starting on, or after, 6 April 2024.
Changes to TUPE consultation requirements and working time records
The instances when employers can consult with employees directly, instead of elected reps, will be extended to two different situations (provided there are no existing employee representatives in place):
Where the business has fewer than 50 employees, irrespective of the size of the transfer; or
Where the proposed transfer involves fewer than 10 employees, irrespective of the size of the business.
Also, the Working Time Regulations will be amended to clarify that employers don’t have to record the daily working hours of their workers.
The Immigration Health Surcharge increase
Subject to limited exceptions, individuals applying for time-limited UK immigration permission are required to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Payment of the charge allows access to the same NHS services that UK residents are allowed to access free of charge.
The IHS is set to increase from 16 January 2024 at the earliest. The new yearly rate for most affected applicants will jump from £624 to £1,035. Employers and affected applicants should consider applying ahead of the rise where possible.
Expected to happen in 2024
Changes to Paternity Leave
Changes to the current law on paternity leave and pay are expected to come into force from April 2024
Currently paternity leave can be taken either as 1 week or 2 consecutive weeks of leave. This will be changed to either 2 consecutive weeks of leave or 2 separate blocks of 1 week of leave.
Currently, paternity leave must be taken within 8 weeks of the birth (or placement for adoption). This will be extended to within 52 weeks.
Currently, for new births, new fathers must serve notice of their entitlement to take leave, how much leave they wish to take and when they want the leave to start by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (unless that’s not reasonably practicable). The start date can be changed by giving 28 days’ notice. This will be changed so that only the entitlement to take leave must be given by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth (unless this isn’t reasonably practicable) and only 28 days’ notice of the dates that they intend to take each period of leave.
The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act
The Act introduces a new positive duty on employers to take ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and is expected to come into force in October 2024.
An employment tribunal will have the power to apply an uplift of up to 25% on tribunal awards where an employer is found to have breached this duty.
A new statutory code on sexual harassment will be published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which tribunals will need to take into account in deciding whether there has been a breach.
The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023
The Act will allow workers and employees on casual or zero-hours’ contracts to request a “predictable work pattern”. This is expected to come into force during 2024, possibly as soon as April, but no date has yet been announced.
Workers on fixed-term contracts of less than 12 months will also be able to request a longer fixed term or a permanent contract.
Employers will have to deal with any applications reasonably, but will be permitted to refuse any request on grounds specified in law.
Regulations (not yet published) will set out greater details of who qualifies to make such a request and how the right should be exercised in practice.
ACAS are currently consulting on a Code of Practice to accompany the new law, which will set out how employers should deal with such requests reasonably.
Get in contact with our HR team today;
01780 480 530
citrus HR, a refreshingly simple and affordable HR software and service for UK small businesses