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Spring 2024 employment law round up

Spring 2024 employment law round up

Spring 2024 employment law round up

Spring 2024 Employment Law updates : Is your business prepared?

‘This year is a busy one for employment legislation, after a few quiet years,’ says Annalie King head of the Employment law team with Kerseys Solicitors in Suffolk and Essex. ‘The Government has backed a number of private members’ bills which are now coming into force. In addition to the usual annual increases to statutory rates, there are several important changes that employers need to know about,’ Annalie King continues. As such, our specialist Employment Law team outlines below the key changes that your business should know about.

April 2024 – Increases in statutory pay rates

1 April 2024: National Minimum and National Living Wage

By law, you must pay your employees a minimum amount per hour. It is against the law to pay less than the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage and failure to do so could leave your business subject to fines and penalties by HMRC, as well as employment tribunal claims. The new rates are as follows:

Age New Minimum hourly rate
21 and over £11.44
18 – 20 £8.60
16 – 17 £6.40

From 1 April 2024, the National Living Wage, the highest band of the minimum wage, will apply to 21-year-olds, rather than workers aged 23 and over.

The Government have also announced an increase to the minimum hourly rate for apprentices to £6.40 and an accommodation offset of £9.99 per hour.

6 April 2024: Sick pay

From 6 April 2024, sick pay increases from £109.40 to £116.75 per week

7 April 2024: Family-related pay

From 7 April 2024, the rates of statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay, statutory shared parental pay and statutory parental bereavement pay increase from £172.48 to £184.03 per week.

6 April 2024 – National Insurance Contributions

The Government has confirmed in its Spring Budget that the main rate of primary Class 1 National Insurance contributions will reduce from 10% to 8% from the 6 April 2024. The Government has advised that this will affect 27 million workers and is worth about £450 a year to an employee on an average salary of £35,000.00.

Increased flexibility in taking paternity leave

Following the birth or adoption of a child, an eligible father or partner can take one or two weeks’ leave. The rules have become more flexible, allowing the employee to take the leave in two blocks of one week, rather than one block and allowing leave to be taken during the first year, rather than within eight weeks of the birth or adoption. Employees need to give notice 28 days in advance of each period of leave, rather than by 15 weeks before the expected week of birth. The notice provisions are unchanged for adoptive parents. The changes apply where the expected week of birth or the date for placement for adoption is on or after 6 April 2024.

1 April 2024 – Rolled-up holiday pay for irregular hours and part-year workers

Rolled-up holiday pay had previously been declared unlawful by the European courts. However, for leave years beginning on or after the 1 April 2024, the Government has introduced optional rolled-up holiday for irregular hours and part-year workers. This means that workers’ holiday pay does not have to be calculated and paid at the time the worker takes holiday. Rolled-up holiday pay will have an accrual rate of 12.07% of hours worked in each preceding pay period (12.07% uplift to pay, as long as it is paid at the same time as normal pay and itemised pay statements specify the amount of holiday pay) and will apply to workers who meet one of the new definitions.

Carry forward of leave due to coronavirus

The right to carry forward leave where it could not be taken due to coronavirus ended on 1 January 2024 and workers must have used up any such leave by 31 March 2024.

6 April 2024 – Flexible Working Requests

The right to request flexible working is just that; a right to ask, which employers can refuse based on a statutory ‘business reason,’ explains Annalie King head of the Employment law team with Kerseys Solicitors. ‘Having said that, employers do need to follow the statutory process in relation to flexible working requests, which is about to be tweaked in the employee’s favour.

From 6 April 2024, employees will be able to ask to work flexibly from the first day of employment, rather than needing 26 weeks’ service. Also expected to come into force on 6 April 2024 are a number of changes to the process. These include allowing an employee to make two requests to work flexibly in any 12-month period; previously only one was allowed. Employers will have to consult with employees about their request and reach a decision within two months, reduced from three. An updated ACAS statutory code on requests for flexible working is also expected to come into force in April 2024.

Read more here Flexible Working Requests.

6 April 2024 – Statutory Carer’s Leave 

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 creates a new statutory unpaid leave entitlement to employees to give or arrange care for a dependant who has:

  • a physical or mental illness or injury that means they are expected to need care for more than 3 months.
  • a disability under the Equality Act 2010; and
  • care needs because of their old age.

This means that from 6 April 2024, employees with a dependant with a long-term care need can ask for one week’s unpaid leave every 12 months to care for that dependant. This is a right from the first day of employment. Employees must give notice of a minimum of three days or at least twice the amount of notice as the period of leave, if longer. In some circumstances, employers can postpone the leave for up to one month.

6 April 2024 – Extended Legal protection from redundancy for pregnant staff 

Employees who are undertaking a redundancy process are required to offer employees who are on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave suitable employment, if this is possible, in priority over other employees who are at risk of redundancy.  From 6 April 2024, this right will extend to:

  • pregnant employees who have notified their employer of their pregnancy on or after 6 April 2024;
  • employees who have returned from adoption, maternity and shared parental leave and the baby was born or placed for adoption within the previous 18 months; or
  • has told their employer that they were pregnant and has had a miscarriage within the previous two weeks.

TUPE consultation changes

For transfers taking place from 1 July 2024, the option to consult directly with staff, rather than elect employee representatives, will be more widely available. Direct consultation can take place if the organisation has fewer than 50 employees, or if fewer than 10 employees will transfer regardless of the size of the organisation. Currently this option is only available to employers of fewer than 10 employees.

6 April 2024 – The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2024

The Government have announced the annual increase in compensation limits for employment tribunal awards, as well as other statutory payments. Key increases for your business to note include:

  • Maximum Unfair Dismissal Compensatory Award: £115,115 (or a year’s gross pay, whichever is lower);
  • Maximum Unfair Dismissal Basic Award: £21,000;
  • Maximum Statutory Redundancy Pay: £21,000; and
  • Maximum weekly pay (used to calculate various awards such as statutory redundancy payments and unfair dismissal basic awards): £700.00

Duty to prevent sexual harassment of employees

From October 2024, employers will be under a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent the sexual harassment of their staff during employment. Tribunals will be able to increase compensation by up to 25 per cent if an employer breaches this duty.

Other employment law changes expected in 2024

A few other changes are expected but the date has not yet been confirmed:

  • the Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023 will require employers to give all tips to workers without deductions and to ensure tips are shared fairly between staff in accordance with a new statutory code;
  • the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 will give greater rights to vulnerable workers. Agency workers and zero-hours workers will be able to request more predictable terms and conditions, include their working pattern; and
  • the draft statutory code of practice on ‘fire and rehire’ dismissals has recently been updated following consultation in 2023 and needs to be approved by Parliament.

This is the most significant year of legislative change we have seen for a long time. We can help you get contracts, policies and practices ready for these changes so that your business does not get caught unawares.

If your business needs assistance in reviewing your HR policies and processes to safeguard your business from an employment claim in light of the changes from our Spring 2024 Employment law round up news, please contact Annalie King, Partner and Head of our Employment law team or Rosie Brighty, Trainee Employment Solicitor at Kerseys Solicitors.

For further information, please contact Annalie King, Partner and Head of Employment law team at Kerseys Solicitors. You can contact Annalie King or Rosie Brighty a Trainee Employment Law Solicitor by telephone at Kerseys Solicitors in Ipswich 01473 213311, Kerseys Solicitors in Felixstowe on 01394 834557 or Kerseys Solicitors in Colchester 01206 584584, email [email protected] or visit our website and click “Call Me Back”.

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