Major Employment law updates are underway, which include policy changes and training requirements 

Retained EU Law

As of January 2024, carryover leave into the next holiday year is a maximum of 8 days. For untaken statutory leave which is untaken due to sickness, any worker can carry forward up to 20 days of leave into the following year but must take the leave within 18 months of the leave year in which it is accrued.

A worker will be entitled to carryover leave if the employer has refused to pay a worker their paid leave entitlement, not given the worker a reasonable opportunity to take their leave and encouraged them to do so, or failed to inform the worker that untaken leave must be used before the end of the leave year to prevent it from being lost. 

The final part of legislation that has been retained is what constitutes “normal” pay when calculating holiday pay. This calculation only applies to the 4 weeks of statutory leave; the ‘normal’ pay rate for the first four weeks of statutory leave should include contractually obliged performance tasks related to pay, payments relating to professional status or length of service and regularly paid overtime payments.   

Right to work checks

As of the 8th of February, right-to-work checks fines triple in cost. The fines are now £45,000 per worker for first breaches and £60,000 per worker for repeat breaches.

Alongside the increase in fines, the home office has issued guidance for employers, the guidance details on how to process such checks, and the penalties for non-compliance. It states;

Be aware there is now no concession for late applications under the EU Settlement Scheme (for EEA nationals or non-EEA national family members who were employed before 30 June 2021).   If you have employees under this banner then you will need to act, this may include potentially contacting the Home Office or looking at terminating employment. Please ensure that you are all conducting your right-to-work checks correctly, if you are unsure then speak to your allocated advisor. 

Annual leave changes

The 31st of March will be the End of the COVID carry-over leave. The emergency ‘COVID carry over leave’ rules implemented in 2020, allowing workers to accrue annual leave for up to two years when they were unable to take the leave due to COVID are removed. The right to accrue leave in this way ends on 31 March 2024.   

The Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023 allows for an optional holiday entitlement calculation for irregular hours and part-year workers from this date. The optional calculation method for pay and additional accrual method is relevant for leave years beginning on or after 1 April 2024. 

Option 1 (reference period holiday pay) – Holiday pay is calculated at 12.07% of actual hours worked* in the pay period and paid at the time leave is taken. The first four weeks should be paid at the ‘normal’ pay rate and the remaining 1.6 at the ‘basic pay rate or any more if you have enhanced holidays. You must base this on the 52-week average of their working week. Option 2 (rolled-up holiday pay) – An additional 12.07% of pay for actual hours worked* is added to each pay packet (with no subsequent pay when leave is taken). If rolled-up holiday pay is the chosen method of holiday pay, then the entire amount of the workers’ leave will be paid at the ‘normal’ rate of pay (including contractually-obliged performance tasks i.e. commission and overtime)  calculated based on the 52-week reference period.

Tribunal fees

The UK Government confirmed that they intend to reintroduce UK tribunal fees, that is where employees/ex-employees wishing to claim at tribunal will have to pay a fee before lodging the case.

Fees had been suspended as it was felt that they may impede justice. However, following initial consultation, it was deemed that respondents were content with the proposals. The proposed fees will be £55.

Minimum wage

The Government has announced that it has accepted the Low Pay Commission’s recommendations on minimum wage rates to apply from 1 April 2024. The National Living Wage will apply to all workers aged 21 and over for the first time, previously only applying only to those aged 23 and over.
 

The annual increases to the minimum wage and national living wage with effect from 1 April 2024 are as follows:

👉21 and over – £11.44 (increase of £1.02)

👉18-20 – £8.60 (increase of £1.11)

👉16-17 and apprentices – £6.40 (increase of £1.12)
👉19 and over apprentices – £8.60

The following Statutory Rate changes will take effect as of 06 April 2024;

👉Adoption pay (SAP) – £184.03 
👉Lower earnings limit – £123 
👉Maternity pay (SMP) – £184.03 
👉Parental bereavement pay (SPBP) – £184.03 
👉Paternity pay (SPP) – £184.03 
👉Shared parental pay (ShPP) – £184.03 
👉Sick pay (SSP) – £116.75  

Paternity leave

As of 08 March 2024, Paternity will change but applies for all cases where the expected week of commencement is on or after 06 April 2024

  1. Employees will be able to take two-week paternity leave as two separate one-week blocks
  2. Employees will only need to give 28 days notice of their intention to take paternity leave
  3. Employees will be able to take paternity leave at any time in the 52 weeks after birth (rather than having to take leave in the 56 days following birth).

Carer leave

As of 06 April 2024, Carer Leave Regulations 2024 will be introduced. Employees can apply for up to one week of unpaid carer’s leave, in any 12 months.

The main features of the regulation are as follows:

  1. a day one right
  2. the right applies to employees who have a dependant with a long-term care need and those who want to be absent from work to provide or arrange care for that dependant
  3. requests can be in consecutive, non-consecutive, half-days, or full days.
  4. requests must be done in writing
  5. Employers can postpone a request by one month from the start date of the leave originally requested.

Protection from redundancy

Protection from Redundancy Act 2023 will be in operation as of 6 April 2024 when changes for workers on maternity, adoption and shared parental leave come into place. 

Currently, regulation 10 of the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999 provides people on maternity leave, adoption leave, or shared parental leave first refusal of any suitable alternative employment that may be available in a redundancy situation. This gives them priority when on such leave over any other employee.

Protection from Redundancy Act 2023 will extend the protection as follows:

📢Maternity – the protected period will cover pregnancy, alongside 18 months from the first day of the estimated week of childbirth. The protected period can be changed to cover 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.

📢Adoption – the protected period will cover 18 months from placement for adoption.

📢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. This protection will not apply if the employee is otherwise protected under 1. or 2. above.

We always advise you to be mindful when looking at redundancy, especially when it comes to an employee who is pregnant or on maternity leave. When this situation arises, we encourage our clients to call us for the best advice. We note that it is uncapped when looking at discrimination awards for protection from redundancy on pregnancy and family leave. 

Flexible working

Flexible working, this comes as a large charge and comes into effect as of 06 April.

Currently, employees who wish to apply for flexible working must have been employed for 26 weeks, as of 06 April this will no longer be the case and the employee has the day one right to request flexible working, this includes employees requesting to work from home.

At present, we always advise employers to meet with staff to discuss flexible working requests and therefore this is not a new change for our clients, it should be in all your policies currently as its best advice shared by acas. This is now a mandatory need to meet with employees.

Employees at present can submit one request per year for flexible working and once accepted or rejected, they are unable to do so for another 12 months. As of April this changes and they can now submit two requests every 12 months, these requests can be the same nature of change and the full process must be followed.

Employers have 3 months to respond to a flexible working request previously, this has now been moved to 2 months.

Employee have always had to justify the flexible working request how the change will affect their role and how it can be dealt with. This is no longer the case, the employee can make the request, and explain the reasons but will not need to inform their employer how the change will impact the role or how the employer should deal with the change, for example reallocation of workload. Policies will need to be reviewed in line with these changes, alongside flexible working request forms, outcome letters, and general documents surrounding flexible working.

Neonatal leave and pay

On 15 July 2022, the government-backed new legislation to allow parents whose babies require specialist care after birth to be given additional paid time off work, the law will come into effect as of April 2025.

A baby who is born prematurely or sick will receive neonatal care in the hospital or another agreed care setting – often for a prolonged period. This can leave parents in a position of having to use their existing leave entitlement or having to return to work while their baby is still receiving hospital care.

As of April 2025, Employees will be entitled to take up to an additional 12 weeks of leave, in addition to other leave entitlements such as maternity and paternity leave if their baby requires neonatal care.

Natal care leave will be available to employees from their first day of employment and will apply to parents of babies who have received natal care for a minimum one one week up to 12 weeks and taken within 68 weeks from birth. Employees will need to qualify for Statutory Neonatal paid leave which means a 26-week service requirement will apply and they must earn above the lower earnings limit.

Employment (Allocation of Tips)

Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023 will come into force in May 2024.

The act creates a new legal obligation for employers to fairly allocate tips over which they exercise control or significant influence. These tips should be paid to workers in full within a month of the payment being made. Employers will be obliged to produce a written policy on tip allocation and to maintain records of tip allocations for three years. 

Tupe

Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE): From 1 January 2024, it is no longer a requirement for employers to consult with affected employees via representatives on a TUPE transfer if their business employs fewer than 50 employees.

Harassment at work

In 2019 the Women Equalities put together data to show the government solid evidence of harassment at work. In response the Government published a new duty for employers to prevent sexual harassment, a new statutory code and to re-introduce protections against third-party harassment.

These protections will all come into place as of October 2024 and failure to comply will add up to an additional 25% uplift in compensation in the tribunal.

What this means for you; it is the employer’s duty to protect from harassment and victimisation on the new codes, this includes ensuring all employees are fully trained on harassment and signed off against the policies in place.

A clear policy needs to be in place on 3rd party harassment and evidence on how you will prevent this from happening within your setting. 

The Right to request predictable working patterns

It is anticipated that the right to request predictable working patterns will come into force from September 2024. The right will apply to workers including agency workers. The workers will be able to make two such requests in 12 months.

Initial guidance issued by Acas indicates that workers will be protected from detrimental treatment because they have applied for a predictable pattern and employers must follow the appropriate procedure, which will be clarified by a statutory code of practice. There will be a minimum service requirement of 26 weeks under the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023.