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Employment Law: What to expect in 2024?

As we bid farewell to another remarkable year, let’s look forward and embrace the new opportunities that 2024 has in store for us. In particular, this article will focus on a handful of changes we are likely to see in employment sector.

National Insurance tax cut

Firstly, in his autumn statement on 22 November 2023, the chancellor discussed the most recent projections from the Independent Office for Budget Responsibility.  One of the key highlights for those in the employment sector is the National Insurance tax cut.

Currently, for those earning between £12,570 and £50,268 the NI rate is 12% and 2% on earnings above that threshold. Beginning on 6 January 2024, the initial contribution will be reduced from 12% to 10%. The chancellor claims this will result in a £450 savings for an individual making £35,000 on average. Thus, a boost in salary has the potential to push you into a higher tax bracket or cause a larger than anticipated percentage of your income to be taxed.

Minimum wages to rise in April

On 21 November 2023, the government declared that it has agreed to implement the minimum salary rates recommended by the Low Pay Commission (LPC) starting in April 2024. The LPC is an impartial group that advises the government on minimum wage matters. It is composed of trade unions, employers, and specialists. The Commission unanimously approved the proposed rate recommendations. From 1 April 2024, workers age 21 and over will be entitled to the National Living Wage (which previously only applied to those who were 23 and over). The National Living Wage is rising from £10.42 to £11.44 per hour. The National Minimum Wage will rise from £10.42 to £11.44 for those aged 23 and over; £10.18 to £11.44 for those aged 21-22; £7.49 to £8.60 for those aged 18 – 20; and £5.28 to £6.40 for those under 18 and apprentices. This is the largest ever increase to the minimum wage in cash terms.

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023

Furthermore, the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 received Royal Assent and will come into force in October 2024. This means that all employers will be under a statutory duty to take reasonable steps to prevent sex harassment in the workplace. If employers fail to take reasonable steps to prevent sex harassment, then the Equality and Human Right Commission can take enforcement steps, plus any successful tribunal claim will be subject to a compensation uplift of up to 25%.

Flexible Working Requests

On 6 April 2024, the right to make Flexible Working requests will become a day one right. Employees will no longer require 26 weeks’ service to make requests. This right will apply to all requests made on or after this date.

Additionally, it is expected that the changes in the Flexible Working Act 2023, will also come into force on 6 April 2024. These changes included:

  • Right to make 2 flexible working requests in any 12 months
  • Removed requirement for employee to provide explain business impact of request
  • Employers must respond within 2 months of receiving the request
  • Employers must consult with employee before refusing request

We are awaiting confirmation on this, but it would be prudent to prepare as though this will come into force on this day.

The right to make Flexible Working requests will become a day one right. Employees will no longer require 26 weeks’ service to make requests.

Carer’s Leave Act

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023, which received Royal Assent last year, aims to transform the idea of work-life balance for carers. On 6 April 2024, employees will have a day one right to up to one week per year of unpaid carer’s leave.  The leave applies to employees who have a dependant with a long-term care need, to provide or arrange care for that dependant. The employee must give at least 3 days notice in writing, or twice the notice of the leave requested if longer. The leave can be for consecutive, non-consecutive, half-days or full days. Employers can postpone a request if the operation of the business would be unduly disrupted, but must explain this in writing and then allow the leave to be taken within one month.

Enhanced Maternity Protection from Redundancy

Also on 6 April 2024, protections from redundancy for employees on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave will be extended. The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 provides extended protection for employees from the time they inform their employer they are pregnant, to 18 months after the Estimated Week of Childbirth (EWC) or the exact date if this is made known to the employer.  For adoption the protection will cover 18 months from the placement date. For shared parental leave the protection will cover 18 months from the expected week of childbirth, provided the parent has taken at least 6 consecutive weeks of shared parental leave and is not otherwise protected by adoption or maternity cover as above. Specifically, this enhanced protection will apply to employees:

  • Who inform their employer they are pregnant on or after 6 April 2024;
  • Who will end their maternity or adoption leave on or after 6 April 2024;
  • Who will begin shared parental leave on or after 6 April 2024.

For more information on changes in employment law for 2024, or anything else related to employment, please contact our employment lawyers.

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