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2024 - What's on the employment law horizon?

Happy New Year!

During 2023 there was a raft of employment-related legislation passed (mainly via government supported Private Members’ Bills) which are due to come into force this year. Some of these provisions result from the end of retained EU law on 31 December 2023 and other developments are those which have been in the pipeline for a while.  

We have outlined below the key changes and dates for you to be aware of together with some suggested action points to add to your New Year resolutions.  

1 January 2024

Amendments to Equality Act 2010

Regulations come into force amending the Equality Act 2010 to preserve in domestic law various key rights and principles of equality and discrimination law after retained EU law ceases to have effect.  These are direct discrimination for pregnancy, maternity and breastfeeding; indirect associative discrimination; discriminatory statements about recruitment; an amended definition of disability and a single source test for equal pay.  
Action point:  Ensure DEI policies are up to date and ensure that this is flagged up as part of DEI training.

Amendments to Working Time Regulations and TUPE

Regulations amending the Working Time Regulations (WTR) and TUPE come into force and take effect as follows:

  • Working time record keeping duties are clarified to maintain the requirement to keep “adequate” records to show compliance with 48-hour limit on average working week in force from 1 January 2024.
  • Carry-over of annual leave will be permitted in cases where holiday has not been taken due to maternity/family-related statutory leave, sick leave, as a result of misclassified employment status, where the employer has failed to give workers a reasonable opportunity to take holiday or to inform them that holiday not taken will be lost.  This reflects EU case law and is in force on 1 January 2024.  Covid-19 holiday carry-over rules are repealed with any accrued leave to be used by 31 March 2024.

    Action points:  Ensure your workers are classified correctly for employment status purposes, ensure you have processes in place for reminding/encouraging employees to take leave, that policies are updated about carrying over leave and that you remind anyone who still has leave outstanding which accrued during the pandemic that they need to take it by 31 March 2024.
  • “Normal remuneration” for holiday pay purposes will reflect retained EU case law and will be codified into the rules on holiday pay to include (among other things) commission and regular overtime in relation to 4 weeks leave originally under the Working Time Directive in force from 1 January 2024.  

    Action point:  Ensure that your holiday pay is correctly calculated on the basis of “normal remuneration”.
  • "Rolled-up" holiday pay paid as an uplift of 12.07% to the normal rate of pay will be permitted for irregular hours and part-year workers for leave years which start on or after 1 April 2024.

    Action point: ensure amounts in respect of holiday pay are clearly and transparently set out on payslips.  Ensure safeguards are in place to ensure that these workers take holiday.  
  • Annual leave accrual rate of 12.07% of hours worked in the previous pay period for irregular hours and part-year workers will be permitted for leave years starting on or after 1 April 2024.

    Action point: update templates for irregular hours and part-year workers where appropriate
  • TUPE consultation changes will allow for direct consultation with workers rather than electing representatives where no existing employee representatives are in place for small businesses (fewer than 50 workers) and small transfers (involving fewer than 10 workers) of any size of business.  This will apply to transfers taking place on or after 1 July 2024.

Code of Practice on preventing illegal working

The Draft Code of practice on preventing illegal working comes into force on 22 January 2024.  It sets out how an employer can establish a statutory excuse for right to work checks.  

April 2024

Statutory rates increase

Rates of National Minimum Wage (1 April), SMP and other statutory family-leave related payments (2 April) and SSP (6 April) increase.

Action point:  ensure all payments are increased in line with statutory payments and references in policies, procedures and templates are updated as appropriate.

Carer’s Leave  

6 April 2024 – the Carer’s Leave Act comes into force which creates a new statutory unpaid leave entitlement for employees with caring responsibilities.  This is a day one right and those who qualify will be able to take up to one week (in days, half days or as a block) of unpaid carer’s leave in any 12-month period.

Action point:  Update and/or introduce policies and procedures, raise awareness and train managers

Flexible Working

The changes to the right to request flexible working in the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act come into force and will become a day one right for all requests made on or after 6 April 2024.

Employees may make two requests in any 12-month period; an employer will not be able to refuse a request without consulting the employee and the time for making a decision will be reduced from three to two months.  

Acas consulted on an updated statutory Code of Practice until 6 September 2023 and will also be updating their non-statutory guidance.

Action point:  Ensure your policies and procedures are updated and keep a watching brief for Code of Practice and Guidance.  Ensure managers are trained on the changes.  

Extending current redundancy protection

The period of special protection from redundancy (i.e. the right to be offered suitable alternative vacancies in a redundancy situation) for employees on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave (SPL) is extended.  For maternity leave, the period of protection will be 18 months from the expected week of birth; adoption leave will be 18 months from placement for adoption and for SPL protection will cover 18 months from birth provided at least 6 consecutive weeks of SPL is taken but will not apply if maternity or adoption protection applies.  

This extension applies to cover pregnancy where the employer is informed of the pregnancy on or after 6 April 2024 and the extension of the protected period will apply to any maternity and adoption leave ending on or after 6 April 2024 and any period of six weeks SPL starting on or after 6 April 2024.    

Action point: Raise awareness and update training for anyone involved in implementing redundancies

July 2024

Allocation of tips

The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023 is expected to be brought into force.  This imposes new obligations on employers to ensure that 100% of tips are paid to workers in full without deductions and that the allocation is what the legislation describes as “fair”.  

The government has published a draft statutory code of practice on the fair and transparent distribution of qualifying tips which is open for consultation until 22 February 2024.  It will be accompanied by non-statutory guidance.

Action point:  Review final version of Code when published to design and implement tipping practices and policies.

September 2024

Statutory right to request a more predictable working pattern

The Workers (predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 is expected to come into force which introduces a new statutory right to request a more predicable working pattern.  It will apply to workers whose existing working patterns lack certainty in terms of hours or times they work and to those on a fixed-term contract of 12 months or less. It will also apply to agency workers.

Employers must deal with a request in a reasonable manner and notify the worker of their decision within one month. A maximum of two applications will be permitted during any 12-month period and requests may be refused on specified grounds.  

Acas is consulting on a new Statutory Code of Practice until 17 January 2024 and non-statutory guidance will accompany the Code.  

Action point: Keep a watching brief for the finalised new Code and diarise updating your policies and procedures, raise awareness and train managers.

October 2024

New duty to prevent sexual harassment

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 comes into force and introduces a new duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of their employees and gives tribunals the power to uplift sexual harassment compensation by 25% where the employer is found to have breached the new duty. 

Action point:  Update DEI policies, ensure managers are aware of their responsibilities, and ensure that this is included as part of DEI training.

April 2025

Neonatal care leave and pay

Legislation is now in place to enable regulations to come into force introducing neonatal leave and pay for employees whose babies spend an extended period of time in neonatal care.

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