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Navigating new employment law

Explore the new laws taking effect in the UK in 2024 and read how they will influence employers and employees.

Simplifying the complexity in navigating new employment laws taking effect in 2024

Webinar: Navigating new employment laws

Explore the information below about the new employment laws being introduced from April 2024, or sign up today to watch this insightful webinar on-demand.

We’re here to help you stay informed and up-to-date to minimise legal risks and create a more secure environment for both your business and your employees.

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Compassionate support and advice icon Extended redundancy protection for pregnant women and family leave

The Government are introducing new protections for pregnant women and those taking maternity, shared parental or adoption leave under the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 in April 2024.

Detail

Statistics show that women are more likely to be made redundant before, during and after maternity leave than at any other time, so the aim of the new protections is to address this issue.

During a redundancy selection process, an employee on maternity leave cannot be chosen for redundancy solely because of their pregnancy or leave status. However, they are entitled to priority consideration for any suitable alternative roles that become available during their maternity leave period.

Moving forwards, the additional protection to suitable alternative roles will extend to cover pregnancy, alongside 18 months from the first day of the estimated week of childbirth, or the exact date of childbirth if notice is provided prior to the end of maternity leave. This new, extended right will also include parents returning from adoption or shared parental leave for the first time.

Practical takeaway

Following recent changes that expand rights for shared parental and adoption leave, these benefits may now be utilised more often by men. To ensure your company is prepared for these updates impacting redundancy processes, here’s what you can do:

  • Review your redundancy procedures to account for the new parental leave rights
  • Train those involved in redundancy processes on the revised rules
  • Update any relevant company policies to reflect the changes.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

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Employee-relations-policy-and-HR-transformation-consultancy icon New right to unpaid carers leave

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023,  coming into effect on April 6th, provides employees with the right to take one week of unpaid leave each year to care for a dependent with long-term needs. This leave can be taken in full or half days, offering flexibility for managing work alongside caring responsibilities. Importantly, it’s a day one right, meaning employees can access this benefit from the very first day of their new job.

Detail

A carer is someone who provides support to a someone who needs assistance due to illness, disability, mental health challenges or age-related needs. These individuals play a vital role, ensuring their loved ones can manage daily life. This can include those caring for a:

  • Spouse
  • Civil partner
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Person who lives in the same house.

Employees are not obligated to provide evidence of the purpose of their leave, including whether it’s for caring responsibilities, and they are protected from dismissal or any detrimental consequences for taking this time off.

  • Prior to taking carer’s leave, employees must give written notice, providing at least twice the amount of notice as the duration of leave requested, or three days’ notice if longer
  • You have the discretion to postpone leave if it would disrupt the organisation, provided you give appropriate notice and rationale for the delay
  • Leave must be taken within one month of the initially requested start date, with rescheduling to be agreed upon through consultation with the employee.

Practical takeaway

The Carer’s Leave Act offers a positive step, but a potential challenge exists. Since there’s no mandatory documentation to prove carer status, there’s a chance of misuse.

Details on verification are still emerging, but a self-certification form outlining the reason for leave might be used. To navigate this, consider staying informed about official updates on verification procedures. Open communication with employees is key and creating a supportive workplace culture for those with genuine caring responsibilities can be beneficial approaches.

  • Create a system to track the number of days taken
  • Introduce a self-certification form for employees to complete
  • Train your managers on the new rights
  • Update or introduce policies to include this right
  • Update your employment contracts to include this new leave entitlement.

Please reach out if you have any questions.

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Contemporary contracts, company handbooks and policy services icon Day one flexible working and changes to dealing with requests

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 will introduce new rules about how you deal with flexible working requests. The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 will also remove the requirement to have 26 weeks qualifying service, meaning that employees will be able to make a flexible working request from the first day of their employment which is coming into force in April 2024.

Detail

The Government has recognised a requirement to ensure that employees in need of greater flexibility, including individuals who have caring responsibilities or health requirements are supported where possible. The new rules include the following changes:

  • Making the right to request flexible working a day one right, rather than needing 26 weeks’ service before making a request
  • Employees being able to make two flexible working requests per year ,increasing from one request currently
  • The timescale for you to respond to the request, including any appeal, will be reduced from three months to two months
  • There will be a new requirement to consult with employees before any decision to reject a flexible working request
  • Employees will no longer be required to set out a business case in support of their request or come up with ways to mitigate any
    problems caused by the proposed flexible working arrangement.

The eight statutory grounds to refuse a flexible working request will continue to apply. For instance, you will still be able to reject a request if it will cost too much, or there will be a negative effect on quality of service to customers, for example.

Practical takeaway

If you want to reject a request you should make sure you’re doing so based on one of the eight statutory grounds. Exercise caution if you’re planning to reject a request from a woman returning from maternity leave on part-time hours, we’d suggest you take legal advice first as there’s an additional right to bring an indirect sex discrimination claim in these circumstances.

You’ll need to update your flexible working policy and any documents used to deal with requests, and train your managers on these changes. Get in touch if you have any questions.

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Outplacement services icon Changes to statutory paternity leave

There will be several changes to paternity leave from 06 April 2024 following the government’s publication of the Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024.

Detail

The changes will mean that for any cases where the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC) is on or after 06 April 2024, employees taking paternity leave will:

  • Be able to take their statutory two-week entitlement as two separate blocks of one week, rather than the current position which requires it to be taken as either two consecutive weeks, or just one single week in total
  • Be able to be take their leave at any time during the 52 weeks after the birth. Currently, paternity leave has to be taken in the 56 days following birth
  • Only need to give you 28 days’ notice that they intend to take statutory paternity leave. Currently, employees need to give you a minimum of 15 weeks’ notice before the EWC.

Practical takeaway

You’ll need to ensure that you make the necessary changes to your paternity leave policy and any connected documents and ideally let employees know about the changes for if they need to se these at any point. You’ll also want to train your managers so they’re up to speed with the changes.

We are here to help if you need any legal support. Contact us to speak to an expert.

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