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Employment law in 2024: what you need to know

Dec 18, 2023 | Uncategorised

2024 is shaping up to be a big year for employment law.

Several pieces of legislation will introduce new responsibilities for employers, covering everything from neonatal care to tipping, from TUPE to carer’s leave.

Not only that, but Labour are widely tipped to win the next General Election – and if they do, they’ve said they’ll introduce a far-reaching employment rights bill.

What this all means is that HR needs to take notes, fast, and make changes to ensure compliance with the new laws.

To help with that, here’s a potted summary of the big changes that are on their way – and some that could come soon after.

Carer’s Leave Act

This is a long-awaited piece of legislation that entitles employees who care for a dependant to a week of unpaid leave a year. This leave can be taken as full or half days across the year.

Under this act, the entitlement will be made a right from day one of employment. Leave can be taken for any act of care – from taking a dependant to a medical appointment to assisting them with their financial affairs.

Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act

This act will provide leave and pay to parents of newborns receiving neonatal care within the first 28 days of life.

Parents will be eligible for a maximum of 12 weeks of unpaid leave after maternity or paternity leave. As with the Carer’s Leave Act, it will be available from day one of employment – as opposed to the current system which demands 26 weeks of service and earnings over the “lower earnings limit”.

The act is likely to be implemented in October 2024 in order to give HMRC and employers a chance to update their payroll systems.

Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act

Flexible working is on the rise – and it’s fast becoming a source of tension between employers and employees. Indeed, research from the CIPD found that around four million people have changed careers because their workplaces didn’t offer flexible working arrangements.

This new piece of legislation reflects this trend and gives employees the right to request flexible working from day one.

Employers will be legally obliged to consider any employee’s request for flexible work and to make a decision within two months. However, the existing “eight reasons to refuse flexible working request” will stay.

Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023

We’ve written about this piece of legislation elsewhere. Put simply, it makes it unlawful for any hospitality business to withhold tips from employees. Employers who violate this Act can expect a fine of up to £5,000.

The Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023

These regulations are likely to be brought in at the start of 2024. They amend existing laws related to holiday pay, working time and TUPE.

With regard to holiday pay, the government has proposed that all employees should have the option of “rolled up holiday pay” – a system whereby a worker’s holiday pay is “rolled up” into their wages, not paid separately.

Meanwhile, businesses will no longer have to keep a detailed record of their staff’s daily working hours. This has been justified as lifting an “administrative burden” from employers who will still have to demonstrate compliance with Working Time Regulations. This is partly in response to Federación de Servicios de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) v Deutsche Banka 2019 European case.

Finally, the regulations related to TUPE will change. Small businesses and businesses of any size carrying out a small transfer must now consult directly with employees if they have no representatives in the organisation.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act

This act aims to extend current safeguards for employees on maternity leave.

At present, employers who are making redundancies must offer suitable replacement vacancies to employees on maternity leave. This act will extend this right to employees on adoption and shared parental leave.

The protection will start as soon as an employee tells their employer that they’re pregnant, whether verbally or in writing. It lasts for 18 months after childbirth.

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill

This bill received Royal Assent at the end of October 2023 and expands anti-harassment provisions in the workplace. At its core is a new duty placed on employers to take “reasonable steps” to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. This will mean some employers will need to take a more proactive approach to this issue.

What else could happen?

On top of this raft of new legislation, other questions are being debated that could end up in law. These include:

  • A crackdown on “fire and re-hire” practices via a new statutory code. This is partly in response to P&O Ferries’ sacking of 786 seafarers without due consultation in 2022.
  • A law prohibiting confidentiality clauses in contracts and settlement agreements.
  • A law to extend the break needed to end continuous employment from one to four weeks.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party has signalled that it will introduce a sweeping “Employment Rights Bill” if it wins the next General Election. This would, they claim, be the most significant change to employment law since the 1980s.

Still in the dark?

If you work in HR and are confused by any of the coming changes, you’re not alone. It’s important to be across the detail so you don’t get caught out or unintentionally act outside the law.

At Milners, we have a crack team of experienced and knowledgeable Yorkshire employment lawyers who are on top of the new legislation and able to advise on any issues that arise because of them.

So if you need any legal advice relating to employment law, get in touch for a free, no-obligation consultation – we’d be delighted to help.

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