Susan Galashan, Senior Consultant, Employment Law & HR | Last updated - 15 February 2024
New legislation will increase legal protections for pregnant women, carers, new partners and those wanting to work flexibly. New rules will be introduced for how holidays are calculated for irregular hours and part-year workers, and the National Minimum Wage is increasing.
Here’s an overview of the key changes to be ready for from April 2024 and beyond.
From 6th April, fathers and partners will be able to take leave as two separate blocks of one week, rather than only in one block of either one or two weeks. Only 28 days’ notice will need to be given (seven days for adoption), and leave can be taken at any point in the first year after the birth or adoption, rather than only within the first eight weeks.
Holidays for irregular hours and part-year workers
A new method of holiday accrual will be introduced for holiday years that start on or after 1st April 2024 (so if you have a ‘variable hours’ employee whose holiday year starts in January, for example, the new rules won’t apply to them until January 2025). Time off will accrue at the end of each pay reference period at the rate of 12.07% of all hours worked during that period. There will also be an option for employers to introduce rolled-up holiday pay for irregular hours and part-year workers.
From 6th April, all employees will be entitled to take up to one week's unpaid leave in any 12-month period to provide or arrange care for a dependant with a long-term care need. Leave can be taken in half-day increments.
From 6th April, the requirement to have at least 26 weeks’ continuous service before making a flexible working request will be removed. It is also likely that additional changes to the flexible working process will come into force at the same time. This will include: removing the requirement for employees to explain what effect they think it will have on the employer; allowing employees to make two flexible working requests in a 12-month period; and reducing the deadline for an employer decision on flexible working requests from three months to two months. Learn more about Flexible working: How the law is changing.
Employees on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave have the right to be offered a suitable available vacancy if their job is made redundant whilst they are on leave. From 6th April, this right will be extended to cover the whole period of pregnancy, as well as 18 months after the date of the child's birth or placement for adoption (although the extended protection will only apply to shared parental leave if a period of six consecutive weeks has been taken).
National Minimum Wage
The Government has announced the new hourly minimum wage rates that will take effect for pay periods starting on or after 1st April 2024. There will no longer be a lower rate for workers aged 21-22. The highest rate, £11.44 per hour, will apply to all workers aged 21 and over; those aged 18-20 will move up to £8.60 per hour; and 16-17-year-olds and apprentices (aged under 19 or in their first year of apprenticeship) will move up to £6.40 per hour.
In July we are expecting the new legislation on tips and gratuities to come into force. Employers will be required to ensure that tips are passed on to workers in full, with very limited exceptions. There will also be a requirement to have a tipping policy, and keep records on distribution of tips.
There will also be welcome changes to the consultation requirements that apply when there is a transfer of employees between organisations, which will make the process more straightforward for smaller employers.
From Autumn 2024, workers whose hours of work lack predictability will have the right to make a request for a more predictable working pattern. The process for dealing with requests will operate in a similar way to flexible working requests.
There will also be a new duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of their employees, and employment tribunals will gain the power to uplift compensation by up to 25% where an employer is found to have breached this new duty.
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