2024 EMPLOYMENT LAW UPDATE

CONTENTS: Statutory Increase ¦ Flexible Working ¦ Holiday Pay ¦ TUPE ¦ Harassment ¦ Carer’s Leave ¦ Anticipated Changes for 2025

The contents of this Newsletter do not constitute legal advice. We are not legal professionals. All legal aspects of our work are undertaken with full support of our legal team.

From 1 January 2024 courts can depart from retained EU law following Brexit.

STATUTORY INCREASES

Minimum Wage Increase

The minimum wage, also known as National Living Wage, will increase from £10.42 to £11.44 per hour for workers over 21 with effect from 1 April 2024.

As of that date, the minimum wage for 18-20 year old will increase from £7.49 to £8.60 per hour and the hourly rate for 16-17 year olds will increase from £5.28 to £6.40.

Pay for individuals undertaking apprenticeships will also increase, with the rate for an 18-year-old apprentice increasing from £5.28 to £6.40 an hour.

Increases to Statutory Family Payments

As of 8 April 2024, the following weekly rates will apply for statutory maternity, paternity, shared parental, adoption and bereavement pay:

  • Statutory maternity pay, maternity allowance, paternity pay, shared parental pay and adoption pay – £184.03 (or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate).
  • Statutory parental bereavement pay – £184.03.

Increase to statutory sick pay rate

With effect from 8 April 2024, the weekly rate for statutory sick pay will increase to £116.75.

FLEXIBLE WORKING

New flexible working regulations will come into force on 6 April 2024, giving employees the right to request flexible working from day one of employment (rather than after 26 weeks which is the position currently).

Employees will also be able to make two flexible working requests in any 12 month period (up from one) and will no longer have to explain the effect on the employer’s business of the change requested, as at present.

Employers will need to consult with employees before rejecting requests and decide on the outcome within two months (instead of three).

ROLLED-UP HOLIDAY PAY

For holiday years starting on or after 1 April 2024, rolled-up holiday pay will be allowed again for workers on irregular hours and part year contracts, such as zero hour and term time contracts. Rolled-up holiday is the practice of including an amount for holiday pay on top of a worker’s normal pay, rather than when they are on holiday.

Rolled up holiday pay has been illegal for some time because it was felt that it could deter employees from taking holiday. In practice, however, many employers were still using rolled up holiday pay because it was simple to calculate and workers were generally content to receive it.

If employers opt to offer rolled-up holiday pay, they will have to apply an uplift of 12.07% to the worker’s pay for work carried out in a pay period.

The 12.07% calculation for part year workers and those working irregular hours payments essentially converts the UK statutory holiday entitlement of 5.6 weeks into a percentage of working time:

  • 52 weeks – 5.6 weeks = 46.4 weeks
  • 5.6 is 12.07% of 46.4 weeks.

If they do not wish to use rolled-up holiday pay, employers may continue to use the current 52-week reference period to calculate holiday pay.

THE PROTECTION FROM REDUNDANCY (PREGNANCY AND FAMILY LEAVE) ACT 2023

As of 6 April 2024, this Act expands the current laws protecting pregnant employees or those on, or returning from, maternity, adoption or shared parental leave and facing redundancy. At present, employees on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave have enhanced protections in redundancy situations, including the right to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy over other employees at risk of redundancy, provided that such a vacancy is available.

This Act expands the priority access to redeployment opportunities to include pregnant employees, from the time they notify their employer of their pregnancy, to 18 months after childbirth.

The protection only gives employees priority for redeployment opportunities but employees can still be made redundant during the special protected period.

CARER’S LEAVE ACT 2023

With effect from 6 April 2024, employees will have a statutory right to a weeks’ unpaid leave to care for a dependant with long term needs, defined as: a disability under the Equality Act 2010; illness or injury (physical or mental) that requires care for more than three months;
or old age.
The leave is a “day one” right, i.e. there is no minimum service requirement to take carers’ leave.

The leave can be taken flexibly e.g. in half or full days or by taking a whole week of leave at once.

An employer cannot deny an employee’s request for carer’s leave but can postpone it for up to a month if they reasonably consider that the work of the organisation will be unduly disrupted if the request is
approved.

TUPE

As of 1 July 2024, the TUPE transfer process will become more streamlined where small TUPE transfers are taking place. Under these changes, employers will be able to inform and consult with employees directly if there are no existing employee representatives in place and there are either 50 employees or fewer, or the transfer involves fewer than 10 employees.

ATYPICAL WORKING AND PREDICTABLE HOURS

As of September 2024, any employee with unpredictable work patterns will have the right to request predictability as regards working hours, working days and times and the length of the contract.

Employers will have a month to respond to the request and must deal with the request reasonably.

WORKER PROTECTION – HARASSMENT

In October 2024, legislation will come into effect that introduces a duty on employers to take “reasonable steps” to prevent sexual harassment of their employees in the course of their employment.

This imposes a new, proactive duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. The aim of this legislation is to place greater responsibility on employers to make their workplaces safer for all staff. Compensation can be uplifted by 25%. The ERHC will amend existing codes of practice. Please check your policies.

ZERO HOURS CONTRACTS

A zero hour contract is a form of casual contract. There is no definitive definition of what constitutes a zero hour contract but is typically used where there is an on call arrangement between employer and employee, where the employer is under no obligation to offer an employee work but, when they do, the employee is usually expected to accept the offer.

Zero hours contracts are most commonly used in industries where there is a variable need for staff, such as hospitality, catering and healthcare, in order to provide more flexibility in a company’s workforce.

Reform to zero hours contracts

Although some workers welcome the flexibility offered by zero hours and casual contracts, zero hours contracts generally get a bad press and, following various consultations, a new statutory right to request a predictable working pattern is due to come into force towards the end of 2024. This will allow workers to apply for a change to terms and conditions in order to obtain a more predictable working pattern if there is a “lack of predictability” in respect of any part of their working pattern, e.g. hours or days worked. Further details will be announced later in the year.

We hope this has proven to be a useful summary of recent updates but as always we’re here to help.

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