Here’s what you need to know about the latest legislative updates and regulations coming into force in 2024/2025, and how these will impact your business.
The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations will come into force on 06 April 2024.
The new regulations will remove the current requirement for an employee to have 26 weeks of service before making a flexible working request; making it a day one right.
The Act will require employers to consult with the employee who submits a flexible working request before a decision is made. It also means that employers will have to respond to a request within two months as opposed to the previous three months.
In addition, employees will be allowed to make two requests a year instead of one.
From 01 January 2024, applicable to holiday years beginning on or after 1 April 2024.
- employees will be entitled to carry over up to 28 days leave if they have been on a period of family friendly leave, sick leave or if the employer has not encouraged them to use their leave throughout the year;
- the onus will be on employers to ensure their employees take annual leave and gain sufficient respite and disconnection from work;
- holiday pay calculations must include commission payments, payments for professional status, overtime payments etc rather than be based on the basic hourly rate.
- irregular workers and part time workers will have the option to receive payment for holiday pay that is rolled-up within their normal salary, instead of having to take holidays and get paid.
Carer’s Leave will be introduced as a brand-new right for employees on 06 April 2024.
Employees who have a dependant with a long-term care need will be entitled to up to a week’s unpaid leave to provide or organise care. Requests for leave can be in half days or full days, and can be postponed by the business by up to a month, if the leave would be unduly disruptive.
Employees will be required to give notice of their leave, which is either twice the length of time being requested, or three days, whichever is the longest.
Employees who inform their employer that they are pregnant on or after 6 April 2024 will be given the same protection as those who are on maternity leave during a redundancy exercise.
This means that pregnant employees will have the right to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy, if one arises, above all other employees.
The protection will start as soon as the employee informs their employer about their pregnancy and will continue until 18 months after either the expected week of childbirth or the exact date of birth if communicated. Similar protections will also be given to employees on adoption leave and shared parental leave.
National living and minimum wage rates
From 1st April 2024 the national living wage (the top rate of the national minimum wage) is extended to apply to workers aged 21 and over (before 1 April 2024, the top rate applied to those aged 23 and over).
The national minimum wage rates increases as follows:
- Workers aged 21 and over – from £10.42 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
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
There are new changes expected to come into force from April 2024 which will give fathers and partners more choice and flexibility around how and when they take their paternity leave.
Fathers/partners will be able to take the current entitlement of up to two weeks of leave in two separate blocks of one week if they wish.
Fathers/partners will be able to take their leave at any time in the first year, rather than just in the first eight weeks after the birth or placement of a child.
The notice requirements for paternity leave will become more proportionate to the amount of time the father or partner plans to take off work – giving more flexibility in planning to take the leave they need. They will be required to give 15 weeks’ notice prior to the expected week of childbirth and then four weeks’ notice of details prior to each period of leave.
- For TUPE transfers on or after 1 July 2024 – the requirement to hold elections for employee representatives for TUPE consultation will be removed for small businesses and for transfers of fewer than 10 employees, meaning that the employer will be able to consult directly with employees on TUPE transfers:
- If the organisation has fewer than 50 employees (ie small business); or
- For organisations of any size, if fewer than 10 employees are to transfer.
- Zero-hour contract should be handled with extreme care. Employees will have the right to request fixed hours if they have been working a predictable number or pattern of hours.
- The Workers (Predictable T&Cs) Act 2023, is aimed at increasing certainty for irregular workers, by introducing the right for workers and agency staff to request more predictable and regular hours and terms and conditions of work.
- Restrictive covenant clauses will potentially be capped at three months.
- Right To Work (RTW) checks will be very much under the microscope, and it will be important to ensure you have the appropriate RTW protocols in place.
- Coming into force later in the year in October 2024, The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023, will introduce a duty on employers to take ‘reasonable steps; to prevent sexual harassment of their employees and to make their workplace a safer place.” Tribunals will have the power to uplift compensation by up to 25% if an employer is found to have neglected this new duty.
Babies who are sick or born prematurely may need specialist care in hospital neonatal units. This can be extremely distressing for parents or those who have a responsibility for babies in neonatal care.
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 will provide parents whose babies need neonatal care after birth with up to 12 weeks of neonatal leave.
The other key aspects of the new right are that:
- It will be a day one right;
- It will be available to parents of babies who are admitted up to the age of 28 days, where the baby has a continuous stay in hospital of at least seven full days; and
- Statutory neonatal pay, which would be set at the same rate as other family-friendly statutory payments, would have a qualifying period of 26 weeks’ continuous service.
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 is likely to take effect from April 2025.
- Employers must examine their current policies, procedures, employment contracts and worker agreements to determine any necessary adjustments for compliance with the updated laws. To help you do this, we will provide you with a separate word document containing extracts/sentences that can be copied into your current policies and/or handbook to ensure compliance.
- The great resignation and a highly competitive labour market have made attracting and retaining talent a major challenge for employers. Therefore, 2024 may be the time to rethink your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and consider enhancing your offering beyond the statutory limits.
- Our team of HR Consultants can provide specific advice on any new protections and procedures once they are in place, and we are also here to help drive and grow your EVP.