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Changes to key employment laws in April 2024 – what employers need to know

08 April 2024

April is always a key month in employment law, bringing in changes to various employment-related rates and limits.

This year, there are also a number of other important changes to employment law legislation which come into effect from April. In this article we cover the key changes for employers to be aware of.

Holiday accrual and pay

Several key changes to holiday rights under the Working Time Regulations 1998 take effect from 1 April for holiday leave years that commence on or after 1 April 2024:

  • Holiday leave accrual for irregular and part-year workers will be calculated as 12.07% of actual hours worked in a pay period.
  • A new method to work out how much leave irregular hours or part-year workers accrue when they take family related leave or sick leave.
  • Employers can use rolled-up holiday pay as an alternative method to calculate holiday pay for irregular hours workers and part-year workers.

For more detail see our January article New holiday leave and pay guidance for part-year and irregular hours workers.

Flexible working

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 and associated regulations came into force on 6 April 2024. The headline effect of the Act and Regulations is that employees have a right to request flexible working from day one of their employment (as opposed to employees needing to have 26 weeks’ service before making a request under old rules).

There are also changes to the details of flexible working requests, including:

  • An employee will be entitled to make two requests (reduced from one request) in any 12-month period.
  • An employer cannot refuse a request unless the employee has been consulted.
  • The time for an employer to decide is two months (reduced from three under the old rules) – but the employee and employer may agree a longer period.

ACAS’ revised statutory Code of Practice on requests for flexible working also came into force on 6 April. This Code must be followed where an employee makes a statutory request for flexible working. 

Failure to handle flexible working requests in line with the new legislation could result in Employment Tribunal claims that, if successful, could result in an order to an employer to reconsider the application for flexible working and a compensation award of up to eight weeks’ pay (subject to the statutory cap on a week’s pay that applies in Employment Tribunals).

Family friendly rights

Paternity leave and pay

On 8 March 2024 the Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 came into force, which implement the changes to the statutory paternity leave scheme announced by the UK government in July 2023. Per that announcement the new rules that came into force on 6 April are:

  • Fathers and partners are able to take the entitlement of up to two weeks' statutory paternity leave in two separate blocks of one week of leave if they wish, rather than having to choose between taking one week or two weeks.
  • Fathers and partners are able to take their statutory paternity leave at any time in the first year (within 52 weeks of birth or placement for adoption), rather than just in the first eight weeks after birth or placement for adoption.
  • The notice of the date on which an employee wants paternity leave to start shall change to 28 days’ before each period of leave they intend to take (down from 15 weeks before birth as it was previously) except for cases of adoption where the notice shall remain within seven days of the adopter having received notice of being matched with a child.
  • Fathers or partners are also able to vary any dates given if they give 28 days’ notice of the variation.  

Extension of the protected period in a redundancy situation

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 received Royal Assent on 24 May 2023 which ultimately allowed regulations to be made concerning redundancy during or after a protected period of pregnancy, maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave and which may require an employer to offer alternative employment and set out consequences for failing to do so.

The protections, which took effect from 6 April 2024, are as follows:

  • Protection will start when an employee tells their employer about their pregnancy (if notification occurs on or after 6 April). If pregnancy ends and the mother is not entitled to statutory maternity leave, the protected period ends two weeks after the end of the pregnancy.
  • If the mother is entitled to maternity leave, the protection shall continue until the end of 18 months after the expected week of childbirth, unless the employee has informed the employer of the date of their child’s birth, in which case the additional protected period will end 18 months after that date.
  • Protection for adopters ends 18 months after the child’s placement or the date the child enters Great Britain (in the case of overseas adoptions).
  • For those taking six or more consecutive weeks of shared parental leave but who have not taken maternity or adoption leave, the additional protected period ends 18 months after the date of the child’s birth or placement (or the date they enter Great Britain for overseas adoptions).  

The new rules will apply to maternity and adoption leave ending on or after 6 April 2024 and to a period of six consecutive weeks’ shared parental leave starting on or after 6 April 2024. 

Carer’s leave

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 received Royal Assent on 24 May 2023. Enacting regulations inserted new sections into the Employment Rights Act 1996 which came into force on 6 April 2024.

The changes mean that an employee who has a dependant with a long-term care need may take one week’s unpaid leave to provide or arrange care in a 12-month period. The leave can be taken in either individual days or half days up to a block of one week.

Qualifying carers must give at least twice as many days’ notice as the period of leave requested, or three days, whichever is the greater. The notice doesn’t need to be in writing and an employer cannot ask for evidence in relation to the request before granting leave.

Employers can postpone carer’s leave where all the following apply:

  • The employer reasonably considers that the operation of their business would be unduly disrupted if it allowed the leave during the requested period.
  • The employer allows the employee to take a period of carer's leave of the same duration, within a month of the period initially requested.
  • The employer gives the employee a written notice within seven days of the initial request, setting out the reason for the postponement and the agreed dates on which the leave can be taken.

Rates and limits

April 2024 also sees the usual revisions to key rates and limits that employers should be aware of.

National minimum wage

The new National Minimum Wage rates took effect from 1 April. The new rates and increases are as follows*:

 

 

Increase £

% increase

National Living Wage (21 and over)

£   11.44

£     1.02

9.8%

18-20 Year Old Rate

£     8.60

£     1.11

14.8%

16-17 Year Old Rate

£     6.40

£     1.12

21.2%

Apprentice Rate

£     6.40

£     1.12

21.2%

Accommodation Offset

£     9.99

£     0.89

9.8%

*table taken from the government’s announcement in November 2023        

Statutory leave payments

The weekly payment rates for statutory maternity, adoption, paternity, shared parental and parental bereavement pay have increased from £172.48 to £184.03 and the same will apply to maternity allowance from 8 April 2024.

The weekly rate of statutory sick pay increased to £116.75 from £109.40 on 6 April.  

Compensation – unfair dismissal

If employers lose unfair dismissal claims at Tribunal, they face two types of financial award.

The basic award is calculated by reference to an employee’s age, length of service and pay and is subject to a weekly cap. The gross weekly pay cap has itself been increased from £643 to £700 for 6 April 2024 – 5 April 2025. The basic award cap for 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 are as follows:

 

Maximum award

6 April 2024 – 5 April 2025

£21,000

6 April 2023 – 5 April 2024

£19,290

Where employers lose automatically unfair dismissal claims, Tribunals must award a minimum basic award amounts as follows (the caps above apply):

 

Minimum award

6 April 2024 – 5 April 2025

£8,533

6 April 2023 – 5 April 2024

£7,836

The compensatory award in most cases is subject to a statutory cap, which is also adjusted annually on 6 April in line with any annual increase in RPI. The cap works to limit a claimant’s compensatory award to a year’s pay or the cap, whichever is the smaller:

 

Statutory cap

6 April 2024 – 5 April 2025

£115,115

6 April 2023 – 5 April 2024

£105,707

Compensation – injury to feelings

Also known as the ‘Vento guidelines’ the below bands of compensation are used as a guide for Tribunals when considering compensation payments in discrimination claims:

 

Lower Band (less serious cases)

Middle Band (cases not meriting a top band award)

Top Band (the most serious cases)

6 April 2024 – 5 April 2025

£1,200 - £11,700

£11,700 - £35,200

£35,200 - £58,700

6 April 2023 – 5 April 2024

£1,100 - £11,200

£11,200 - £33,700

£33,700 - £56,200

If you would like assistance with drafting or reviewing your policies and procedures in the light of the above changes, please do get in touch.

About Wrigleys

Wrigleys Employment team specialises in supporting clients in the charity, third and education sectors helping them to manage a wide array of issues and matters. We believe in working with our clients to help them navigate the increasingly complex landscape of employment rights to ensure they have the right documents and systems in place to handle matters from pay and holiday to potential claims of discrimination and more, before they turn into claims.

If you have an issue you’d like to speak to us about, we’d love to hear from you.

 

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article further, please contact Michael Crowther or any of the employment team on 0113 244 6100.

You can also keep up to date by following Wrigleys employment team on X.

The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. The law stated is correct at the date (stated above) this article was first posted to our website. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors.

 

 
 

 

 
 
Michael Crowther View Biography

Michael Crowther

Associate
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