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General Business
Managing People
Employment & HR

Changes to employment law in 2024 and beyond

Primed Team
10 June 2024 7 minutes

There have been a number of significant changes to employment law over the last six months. Here is our guide on the most important changes that employers need to know.

Changes to employment law in 2024 and beyond

The Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023 were introduced in January to simplify annual leave and holiday pay calculations for employees. The changes aimed to clarify the definition of a week’s pay and permit rolled-up holiday pay.

In April, various other legislations were introduced to increase legal protections for new parents, pregnant women, carers, and those who want to work more flexibly.

Lastly, the National Minimum/Living Wage, rates for statutory payments, and compensation levels for Employment Tribunal awards have increased.

With all the new changes to employment law, we recommend that employers proactively revise their policies and procedures to help mitigate compliance risks and safeguard their business. Employers should also closely monitor employment law updates as more changes are expected to be made later this year and in 2025, which you can learn more about below.

Agency Workers
The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023, which is expected to come into effect in Autumn 2024, grants workers and agency workers the right to request a predictable work pattern. While employees will soon have the right to request more predictable hours, this does not guarantee automatic changes, and workers must meet specific criteria when making a request.

Minimum length of service
To make a statutory request, a worker must meet specific eligibility criteria:

  • To an employer: The worker must have worked for the employer at least once in the month in the 26 weeks before the day of the request.
  • To an agency: The worker must have had a contract with the agency at some point in the month before the 26 weeks leading up to the day of the request.
  • To a hirer: The worker must have worked in the same role with the same hirer for 12 continuous weeks within the 26 weeks leading up to the day of the request.

Working patterns that lack predictability
A worker’s working pattern must lack predictability in order to make a request. For example, a working pattern that lacks predictability could be a fixed-term contract or employment lasting 12 months or less.

Keep in mind that a working pattern refers to the number of hours, days, or duration of a contract for which workers are contracted.

Scope and purpose of the request
An employee must make a written statutory request that includes details of the change they are seeking in their working pattern. For example, if someone wants to change their fixed working hours or specific days to achieve a better work-life balance, they need to specify the date on which they would like the change to be implemented.

Number of requests
An employee can make up to two statutory requests for a predictable working pattern within a 12-month period. However, they can have only one active request with their employer at any given time. It’s important to note that any requests will remain active during appeals or until the statutory one-month decision period ends.

Sexual harassment
The Worker Protection Act 2023, which will take effect in October 2024, will require employers to take “reasonable steps” to prevent workplace sexual harassment. Employment Tribunals will also be given the power to provide an uplift of up to 25% in compensation if an employer fails to comply with this new duty. To prepare, employers should:

  • Review and update policies on harassment, bullying, and equal opportunities to reflect the new law.
  • Provide mandatory training for all staff, with regular refreshers.
  • Establish a clear reporting procedure for complaints, ensuring effective record keeping that complies with data protection rules.

Neonatal Care
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act, set to begin in April 2025, will provide employees with up to 12 weeks of leave if their newborn (under 28 days old) is hospitalised for seven or more consecutive days. This leave is available from day one of employment, but paid leave requires at least 26 weeks of continuous employment and earnings of no less than the lower earnings limit (currently £123 per week).

Tipping
The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023, now expected to take effect on 1 October 2024, aims to ensure fairness in tipping practices and create a level playing field for employers by standardising tipping rules. Under the new rules, employers must pass tips on to their workers, and in establishments where tipping is frequent, they must have a policy in place outlining how tips are collected, distributed, and recorded. This policy ensures transparency and fairness for all employees. If a worker believes they are not receiving their due tips, they can request a copy of their tipping record to facilitate resolution. Employers should be aware that failure to comply with the new regulations may result in penalties or legal action.

General election
The UK general election in July may bring about further significant changes. If voted into power, the Labour Party has pledged the biggest change of workers’ rights in a generation as part of their “New Deal for Working People.” This includes removing the qualifying periods for rights such as unfair dismissal, sick pay, and parental leave, creating a single employment status of ‘worker’ for all but the self-employed, and extending statutory maternity and paternity leave. Labour also proposes to extend the time period for bringing claims to Employment Tribunals and introduce tougher penalties for those who fail to comply with tribunal orders, including personal liability for directors of companies at that time.

While the exact outcome remains to be seen, Labour’s current plans suggest a much-altered employment landscape that employers should monitor closely.

Remaining proactive on employment law
The employment law landscape has already undergone significant changes this year, likely impacting the day-to-day operations of many businesses. However, employers must remain vigilant and prepare for upcoming changes to ensure compliance and maintain fair and transparent practices within their organisations. Proactively addressing these changes by providing training and updating policies and procedures ahead of time will help employers navigate the evolving world of employment law successfully. Effective and transparent communication with employees is crucial to ensure understanding of the upcoming changes and address any questions or concerns they may have.

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