Upcoming changes to employment law this April

Posted on February 27, 2024
Posted by Marion Kennedy

This April, various changes to employment law are due to come into force. We’ve rounded up these updates below so you can prepare in advance.

1. Wage increases

From 1 April 2024, the National Living Wage will increase from £10.42 to £11.44 per hour. Employees over the age of 21 will now be eligible for the National Living Wage (threshold decreased  from 23). Additionally, the national minimum wage for younger workers will increase to £8.60 per hour for 18 to 20-year-olds and £6.40 per hour for 16 to17-year-olds and apprentices. 

2. Changes to holiday rules for irregular-hours or part-year workers

From April, the way annual leave entitlement is calculated for part-year workers and irregular workers will be changing. For leave years beginning on or after 1 April 2024, these workers’ annual leave entitlement will be calculated as 12.07% of the hours worked in each pay period (note these workers won’t be able to earn more than a total of 28 days of annual leave per year). 

There’ll also be a new method for calculating maternity or other family-related leave for irregular-hours workers. You’ll need to look back over the previous 52-week reference period, calculate the average hours worked across that period and ensure the amount of leave is proportionate to the time worked (you should include employed weeks where they didn’t work any hours in the 52-week period, but not weeks when they were on statutory leave).

If you employ irregular hours or part-year workers, you may wish to seek legal advice to check you are following the right process going forward. To speak to a specialist lawyer in a few simple steps, you can use our Ask a Lawyer service. 

3. Rolled up holiday pay to be permitted

Under new regulations, for leave years beginning on or after 1 April 2024, workers will be able to receive holiday pay as an extra on each payslip (rather than receiving it when they take their holiday). This is known as rolled up holiday pay (RHP), and was previously illegal under EU law. 

It’s your choice whether to use RHP – your workers can’t require you to do it. If you use RHP, a worker’s holiday pay will be paid as 12.07% of their total earnings within a pay period. You’ll have to pay the worker with each payslip (not when the leave is taken) and make sure you’re clear about which portion is normal pay and which portion is RHP. You should also make sure your workers understand they won’t be paid if they decide to take holiday later on.

4. Changes to paternity leave 

The Statutory Paternity Pay (Amendment) Regulations 2024 come into force on 8 March 2024 and will affect paternity leave for fathers or partners who have children due to be born or placed for adoption on or after 6 April 2024. Eligible employees will be able to split their leave into two non-consecutive blocks, will be required to give less notice of their leave dates, and may take their leave during the year after their child is born or adopted. However, paternity pay amounts will not change. See our recent blog for more guidance. 

5. Carer’s leave to become effective

From 6 April 2024, employees will be entitled to one week’s unpaid leave per year to give or arrange care for someone who (reasonably) relies on them for care. They can take a whole week off, or take individual days or half days throughout the year. 

Employees will need to give 3 days’ notice of a half day or day off, and/or give a notice period that is at least twice as long as the requested leave. For example, if the request is for 3 days, they must give at least 6 days’ notice. You’ll only be able to ask your employee to take their leave at a different time if it would cause serious disruption to your business, and in that case you’ll need to allow them to take their leave within one month of their original requested date. 

6. Flexible working to become a ‘day 1’ right

Changes to flexible working that are due to come into effect from 6 April 2024 include the right to request flexible working becoming a ‘day one’ right for employees (reduced from the current requirement to have 26 weeks’ service in order to make a flexible working request), the right for employees to make a flexible working request increasing from one to two requests per year, a requirement for employers to consult with staff members before rejecting their request, and a reduction in the time employers have in which to make a decision, from three months to two months.  

7. Increased protection from redundancy for pregnant employees and those on parental leave

Under current laws, employees on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave must be offered suitable alternative employment (if it exists) in priority to anyone else who is provisionally selected for redundancy. From 6 April 2024, it is expected that this protection will be extended to: 

  • pregnant employees, who will also be protected for 18 months from the first day of the estimated week of childbirth (or the exact date of birth if proper notice is given);
  • employees on adoption leave, for 18 months from the date of adoption placement;
  • employees on shared parental leave, for 18 months from birth, provided the parent has taken a period of 6 consecutive weeks or more of shared parental leave (and isn’t protected under one of the criteria above).  

There will also be additional protections for employees who suffer a miscarriage. 

The protections are expected to apply where you are informed of your employee’s pregnancy on or after 6 April 2024, and to any maternity, adoption or shared parental leave ending on or after 6 April 2024.

Note these regulations remain in draft at this stage and may be subject to change.

What should I do now?

It’s a good idea to review your existing HR processes and documentation to check that you’ll be able to address and properly deal with these updates when they come into force. Our content and documents will be updated as relevant laws come into effect. If you aren’t sure how any of these laws will affect your business, you may wish to seek legal advice. To speak to a specialist lawyer in a few simple steps, you can use our Ask a Lawyer service. 

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