As we step into a new year, the landscape of employment law in the UK has undergone significant changes, bringing both challenges and opportunities for employers and employees alike; it’s vital for employers to remain up to date with changes to employment law, ensuring that their HR policies reflect the changes, and vitally that their working practices do also.

HR policy and process isn’t just about legal compliance, it’s also about showing your people how committed you are to creating a place that they love to work, and in a time when recruitment is tough, keeping good people, and attracting strong applicants, is a must for all employers.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the key amendments and additions to UK employment law in 2024, shedding light on how these changes may impact the workplace.

Flexible working rights

One of the most noteworthy changes revolves around flexible working rights. As of 2024, the right to request flexible working has been extended to all employees from day one of their employment. This change aims to promote a healthier work-life balance, offering employees greater control over their working hours and location.

National living wage and national minimum wage

In an effort to address income inequality, the government has announced an increase in the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage. Employers need to stay updated on these changes to ensure compliance and fair compensation for their workforce.

From 1st April 2024 there will be: An increase of £1.02 (or 9.8%) to the NLW for those aged 21 and over – from £10.42 to £11.44 per hour.

An increase of £1.11 (or 14.8%) to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for those aged 18-20 – from £7.49 to £8.60 per hour.

Statutory carers leave

The government has confirmed that from 6th April, there a new law will be enforced which gives your employees the right to take statutory carer’s leave. This will be a right that eligible employees have from their first day of employment, so being familiar with your obligations as an employer is key.

Employees will qualify if they care for a dependent with a long-term care need; if any of your employees are eligible, they’ll be able to take a maximum of one week of unpaid leave a year to look after someone who relies on them for care.

Eligible employees will be able to take this leave flexibly, but will have to give a minimum amount of notice to you as their employer. The notice required will either be double the amount of time they’ve requested to take off, or three days, whichever is longer.

Employers will not be able to refuse a carer’s leave request, they can however postpone it if the leave would seriously disrupt the operating of the business.

Extended legal protection from redundancy for pregnant staff

As it stands, employees on maternity leave have more rights and protection against redundancy than other members of staff; from 6th April 2024, pregnant employees will have those rights afforded to them as well.

That means, if a business has to consider making redundancies, they would need to take steps to help keep any pregnant staff in work, before anyone else. Employers who fail to do this could lead to claims for sex discrimination, unfair dismissal and uncapped compensation.

What this means in practice is that employers will need to consider pregnant employees for suitable alternative roles as a priority ahead of other employees who are at risk of redundancy. This change is effective from the moment they tell their employer about their pregnancy, up until 18 months after the birth of their child.

The same protection will also apply to those employees who take maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

Calculating holiday pay and leave – for leave years starting on or after April 2024

Currently, employers are required to give at the time that staff take annual leave; businesses are not allowed to include holiday pay in a worker’s hourly rate (also known as giving “rolled-up holiday pay”); this was a change that was outlawed several years ago, but it’s now gone full circle, meaning rolled up holiday pay is back!

The government has confirmed that businesses will be able to provide rolled up holiday pay once again, but only for colleagues who work irregular hours, like casual workers, zero-hour workers and part-year workers.

This will be hugely beneficial as we’ve seen the calculation of holiday pay cause real headaches for our clients, especially in sectors such as hospitality with lots of variable hours contracts.

This means businesses will be able to calculate annual leave for irregular hour workers using the 12.07% accrual method.

What should you do next?

You’ll need to ensure all your HR policies and processes are updated to reflect these changes so that both team members and managers are suitably informed. You may also need to provide some training to your managers to ensure they’re equipped to handle any issues that arise from these sorts of HR issues.

  • Review your hourly rates for staff on minimum wage

Ensure anyone paid on or around the minimum wage rates is awarded the necessary increases to keep your pay scales in line with these changes.

We understand employment law changes may feel like an overwhelming amount to deal with, especially if you don’t have a dedicated HR expert to handle them and ensure full compliance; so, if you have any questions or concerns about what you need to do to prepare for these imminent legal updates, don’t panic. Get in touch with our HR Consultancy Team and we’ll set you on the right path.

Keeping your HR Documentation, policies and processes up to date isn’t just about keeping your company legally compliant, but it also demonstrates to your workforce that you’re committed to making the business a place that they love to work, which will help you to continue attracting and retaining the very best talent in the market, and maintaining an excellent reputation with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders in the market.

At The HR Consultants we work with businesses to help them create a place their people love to work; if you’d like to explore how we can support your business to grow through your people, contact us for a friendly, no obligation chat.