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Changes to Employment Laws from April 2024 – are you ready?

There’s a large number of employment law changes coming in April which are set to shake up the workplace. It’s crucial for employers to stay informed and prepared.

Holiday Pay for Irregular and Part Year Workers – 1st April

For holiday years commencing after 1st April 2024, holiday entitlement and pay for two types of workers (irregular hours workers and part year workers) will no longer be governed by the existing legal mechanisms.

‘Irregular hours workers’ are those whose hours are wholly or mostly variable.  ‘Part year workers’ are those who are contracted only to work part of the year and for whom there are unpaid periods of at least a week during which they are not required to work.

These workers will, moving forwards, accrue holiday based on 12.07% of the hours they have worked in the previous pay period.  For many employers, this change simply restores the position they were in prior to the Supreme Court’s decision in Harper Trust v Brazel (2022) which had ruled this practice unlawful.

Alternatively, employers can decide to ‘roll up’ holiday pay for these workers.  For almost two decades, this practice of paying an employee a sum for holiday pay with their usual pay each month instead of paying this at the time leave is actually taken (known as ‘rolling up holiday pay’) has been unlawful but this will not be the case moving forwards.

Although the change applies for holiday years commencing after 1 April 2024, the majority of employers have a holiday year that runs from 1st January to 31st December and as such, this change will come into effect for them from 1st January 2025.

Employers will need to review their working arrangements to identify whether these changes impact on their workforce and whether continuing their current practices would fall foul of the new requirements.  Employers should seek legal advice about introducing any changes to how holiday entitlement and pay are calculated, particularly as whilst the law may allow this, individuals contracts may not.

Changes to National Minimum Wage and Other Rates – 1st April

The usual annual changes to National Minimum Wage rates are coming in on 1st April 2024.  However, unlike previous years, this year has the largest ever increase in cash terms and sees the highest rate of pay applying to those ages 21 and over (instead of the usual 23 and over).

You can see all the new rates in our Facts and Figures section on Employmentbuddy.

Paternity Leave Changes – 6th April

From 6th April, there are some changes to the way Statutory Paternity Leave is taken.

These are:

  • That it can be taken as two non-consecutive blocks of one week. Currently it can only be taken as one block of one or two weeks.
  • It can be taken within the first year of the child’s birth or adoption. Currently it must be taken within the first 8 weeks.
  • Only 28 days’ notice will be required (save in some adoption cases) when choosing the date for the leave. Currently the employee is expected to set this out with their initial notice in or before the 15th week before the EWC.

These changes apply to children with an expected week of childbirth after 6th April 2024 or, in adoption cases, children whose expected date of placement for adoption (or expected date of entry into Great Britain for adoption) is on or after 6th April 2024.

Employers will need to update their policies and procedures accordingly to reflect these changes.

It’s April and that means increases to the financial thresholds for various employment law calculations

Flexible Working Requests – 6th April

From 6th April 2024, all employees will be able to make flexible working requests regardless of their length of service (i.e. the requirement to have 26 weeks’ continuous service has been removed).

In addition:

  • The request will now need to be dealt with within two months (not three as was previously the case)
  • Employees will be able to make two requests in any 12-month period (increased from one)
  • Employees will no longer need to spell out in their request how the employer might deal with the effects of the flexible working request; and
  • An employer will need to consult with the employee if it is considering rejecting a request.

Employers will need to review their policies on flexible working and update these to reflect these changes.

Carers Leave – 6th April

From 6th April 2024, employees (irrespective of length of service) will be entitled to one week per year of unpaid carer’s leave.

This applies to employees who have a dependant with a long-term care need where the leave is to provide or arrange care for that dependant.

The employee must give at least 3 days’ written notice (or twice the notice of the leave requested if longer). The leave can be for consecutive, non-consecutive, half-days or full days.

Employers cannot deny a request but can postpone it if the operation of the business would be unduly disrupted.  However, it’s reasons must be explained in writing and the leave must be taken within one month.

There’s certainly a lot for employers to get to grips with and even more changes are coming later this year.  As always, our employment team is on hand to help you navigate these changes.

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Disclaimer
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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