There are some notable updates to employment legislation in what is looking like a year of change. To keep you informed and outline the people it will impact, here’s are the updates that you need to be aware of:
Commencing 6 April 2024, employees throughout the UK have increased flexibility in working location and schedules. Employers will be obligated to assess all flexible working requests and must provide a justification in the event of rejection. Under the current legislation, employees are requested to have worked for a minimum of 26 weeks before becoming eligible to submit a flexible working request. The upcoming legislation will transform this requirement, allowing employees to make flexible working requests from the outset of their employment. Additionally, workers will have the opportunity to submit two requests within a 12-month period, the existing law currently only allows only one request.
Existing legislation stipulates that prior to terminating employee contracts due to maternity leave, shared parental leave, or adoption leave, employers must, if feasible, extend an offer of suitable alternative employment to any other individuals provisionally chosen for redundancy.
From 6 April 2024, this entitlement will be expanded to cover the duration of pregnancy and for 18 months thereafter.
Pregnancy: This safeguard against redundancy will come into effect when an employee informs their employer on or after 6 April 2024. If eligible for statutory maternity leave, the period of protected pregnancy will conclude on the commencement date of the statutory maternity leave. In event of a miscarriage before 24 weeks of pregnancy, the protected period concludes two weeks after the miscarriage. However, if a stillbirth occurs after 24 weeks of pregnancy, the employee is eligible for the entirety of statutory maternity leave.
Maternity leave: The extended safeguard period will conclude 18 months after the anticipated week of childbirth unless the employee has communicated the child’s birth date to the employer. In the latter scenario, the additional protected period will last for 18 months following the specified birth date. This means if an employee utilises their entire 12-month statutory maternity leave entitlement, they will benefit from an additional six months of protection after returning to work.
Adoption leave: The supplementary protected period concludes 18 months after the child’s placement for adoption.
Shared parental leave: The extension is only applicable if the employee has engaged in a minimum of six consecutive weeks of shared parental leave. In cases where employees have already taken maternity or adoption leave before opting for shared parental leave, they are entitled to the protected period corresponding to the initial maternity or adoption leave, without an additional extension for subsequent shared parental leave. Government guidance to compliment the implementation of the regulation will be disclosed in the near future.
Employees will now have enhanced rights if a baby’s expected week of childbirth is on or after 6 April 2024, or for children placed with an adopter. While the existing legislation allows employees to take just one week in total or two consecutive weeks of paternity leave, the new regulations permit leave to be taken at any time within the 52 weeks following birth or adoption. This is a departure from the current requirement, which mandates that leave must be taken within 56 days after birth. Additionally, the notice period for paternity leave has been shortened from 15 weeks before childbirth to 28 days.
Carer’s Leave Act 2023
Workers with caregiving responsibilities now have the right to a minimum of one week of unpaid carer’s leave per year, marking a new day one employment right. Requests for this leave can be made for consecutive or non-consecutive half-days or full days, including the option to take a block of one week at once. Individuals exercising this newfound right will be granted protections against dismissal or any adverse treatment.
Dismissal and re-engagement
In reaction to P&O Ferries’ sudden and unnotified mass redundancies, the government has released a draft Code of Practice on Dismissal and Re-engagement for consultation on 24 January 2023, with the aim to tackle ‘fire and rehire’ practices. This is anticipated to be published in Spring 2024.
Holiday pay and TUPE
Holiday pay for part-time and irregular hours workers has been revised, with entitlement now calculated at 12.07 of hours worked in a pay period. The reforms also extend to Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) rights, safeguarding employees and their benefits during employment transfers. These changes aim to alleviate the burden on small businesses by permitting direct consultation with new employees if no existing worker representatives exist. If employee representatives, such as trade unions, are present, employers must engage in consultation with them.
Amidst inflation and the ongoing cost of living challenges, there is positive news for everyone as the minimum wage is set to increase. Starting 1 April 2024, the minimum wage will climb from £10.42 to £11.44 per hour, extending to include 21- and 22-year-olds.
What can we do for you?
Understanding new legislation can be challenging! Baron Grey have been guiding local employers through employment-related matters for many years. These include areas such as redundancy and settlement agreements. Whether you need to review your employment contracts or are negotiating a settlement we’re here to help you!
Need to learn more or have questions about redundancy, settlement agreements or anything else employment related? Call is on 020 8891 4311 or email us at email@example.com to schedule a free of charge initial consultation.