Are you ready for the new employment rights from April 2024?

Are you ready for the new employment rights from April 2024?

Are you ready for the changes for new employment rights from April 2024? New laws will take effect, which, along with other recent changes, continue to demonstrate a shift in governmental thinking. Our employment laws are evolving with an emphasis on creating a better working environment for individuals.

We work with many progressive employers who are ahead of the curve, however, it is important to be conscious of each of these updates. Although existing policies may cover similar ideas, employers must now ensure they comply with each of the below updates, as well as to understand how to fairly address individual situations. I’ve prepared a short summary of each update and am more than happy to talk through any of these in greater detail and to help you implement them within your own policies.

A week’s unpaid leave for carers each year

The Carer’s Leave Act will entitle those who act as carers for their relatives to one extra week of unpaid leave per year. A Carers UK report in 2022 found that there are around 700,000-800,000 unpaid carers in the UK, and many have had to either resign from their job, or reduce their hours to ensure they can be there for their loved ones.

The result is that 44% of this group live in poverty, and the aim of the act is to enable more people to rejoin the workforce and to improve their personal situations.

Notice must be given before carers take this leave and it can leave can be used as full days or segmented into half days. It will be important for employers to ensure that these requests are responded to quickly and with empathy.

A “day one” right to request flexible working

Currently, an employee must have been employed for 26 weeks or more to qualify to make a flexible working request and they can make one request per year. Soon, this will be a right from the individual’s first day of work, and if rejected, they will be eligible to apply a second time in a 12-month period.

The decision period for employers will condense from three months to two months, and there will be a requirement to consult before rejecting a request.

Changes to how and when paternity leave can be taken

There will also be four changes to note regarding paternity leave laws:

  1. Employees will be expected to give 28 days’ notice before the anticipated date of birth or adoption to enable them to take paternity leave. This has been reduced from 15 weeks’ notice.
  2. An employee can now take paternity leave any time in the year following the birth or adoption of their child.
  3. Previously, the two weeks had to be taken in a block. They still can be, but the employee can now request two separate week-long blocks if they prefer.
  4. Agreed paternity leave dates can be changed if the employee provides 28 days’ notice.

Redundancy protections in pregnancy extended

The current redundancy protections in pregnancy will be extended and will newly apply after periods of maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

Those who qualify for maternity leave will be protected from redundancy from the date they inform their employer of their pregnancy, until 18 months after the child is born. If an employee suffers a miscarriage, they are protected until two weeks after the pregnancy ends.

The 18-month protocol applies for adoption leave, except that the determining date is the date of placement, or the date the child enters the UK. And if an employee takes more than six consecutive weeks of shared parental leave, they will also be protected from redundancy until 18 months after the child is born.

Holiday pay rights for casual workers

The calculation and accrual of holiday pay for irregular hours (or “casual”) employees– e.g. those on zero hours contracts, is changing. From April, rolling up holiday pay will be allowed in certain circumstances. Since the worker’s hours may vary, the entitlement will be the average that the employee has been paid over the course of the year.

This may incur contractual changes and I highly recommend consulting a legal expert before making these changes.

Annual rates and limits uplift

On top of that, April brings about the annual uplift in rates and limits. The attached table is your one stop-shop to keep your business right on the new figures.
These are important changes and will impact how to manage employees from the beginning of April. We have assisted a number of businesses in updating their policies and relevant contracts of employment affected by the changes. If you would like any more information or support to make sure you’re ready for April, please get in touch with Musab Hemsi.

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