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April’s Employment Law Changes

April 9, 2024

In the same way as this year’s April showers have become yellow flood warnings, the usual April employment law changes are numerous! This blog therefore provides a summary of the key changes now in force. 

Flexible Working

The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2024 are now effective. The key changes are:-

Employees can request flexible working from day one of their employment commencing. They can make up to two statutory flexible working requests in any 12-month period. Employees no longer need to explain what effect they think that the proposed change will have on the business and how the employer may deal with the effects of the request.

Employers now need to respond to a flexible working request within two months (not three months). Employers must still use the same grounds as before to justify using a request however, are now unable to refuse the flexible working request without first ‘consulting’ with the employee on it.

ACAS has now finalised its Code of Practice on requests for flexible working and this can be viewed by clicking HERE. The code highlights the benefits of flexible working and puts an emphasis on the employer’s need to genuinely consider any requests made and approach them with an ‘open mind’. It recommends that managers are given training on handling these requests fairly and reasonably including complying with additional legal duties under the Equality Act 2010. It also recommends that, whilst not a legal requirement, employers consider permitting an employee to be accompanied at a meeting to discuss the request. 

Paternity Leave

The Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 have also come into effect. These will now apply in all cases where the expected week of childbirth begins after 6 April 2024, or for adoption, where the expected date of placement is on or after 6th April 2024. 

Fathers and partners can take the leave and pay as two non-consecutive blocks of one week, rather than only in one block of either one or two weeks. The leave can be taken at any point in the first year after the birth or adoption of the child, rather than only within the first eight weeks after adoption or birth. In most cases the notice period required for taking the leave will be shortened to 28 days. Notice in domestic adoption cases remains ‘within 7 days of the adopter having received notice of having been matched with a child’. If notice has been given, the dates can be varied if 28 days’ notice of the variation is given, enabling them to change planned dates at a later stage to best suit the needs of their families.

Carer’s Leave

The Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024 are also now in force. This is a new statutory right for employees who have a dependent with a long-term care needs to one unpaid week of carer’s leave in each rolling 12-month period. It is a day one right. Employees can choose whether to take it as a continuous week of leave or multiple shorter periods through the year, such as half days or full days. Employers can postpone the request, but are not able to refuse it. If it is postponed, any alternative dates must be no later than 1 month after the earliest date that is in the employee’s request.

Extension of redundancy protection

Employees on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave were already entitled to additional protection from redundancy and should be offered alternative employment where there is a ‘suitable alternative’ vacancy in a redundancy situation. This additional protection has now been extended by the The Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 so that these employees are now entitled to this protection for a period of 18 months from the child’s birth or adoption. The Regulations also mean that this protection will now also apply to (i) pregnant employees from the point that the employee notifies the employer about their pregnancy; (ii) employees whose pregnancy ends due to miscarriage or stillbirth (before 24 weeks of pregnancy) for a two-week period after the pregnancy ends; and (iii) employees who take shared parental leave of at least 6 consecutive weeks but who have not taken maternity or adoption leave are also able to rely on the protected period for 18 months after the date of the child’s birth or placement. 


Calculating holiday entitlement for irregular hours or part-year workers

The Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocations and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023 implement new rules on calculating annual leave entitlement for holiday years beginning on or after 1 April 2024.

For those who work irregular hours or are part year workers, holidays will accrue on the last date of each pay period at the rate of 12.09% of actual hours worked in that pay period (there are different rules where the worker has been on sick or statutory leave). Employers can choose to either pay rolled-up holiday pay or pay for holidays when they are taken. Employers opting to pay rolled-up holiday pay must (i) pay 12.07% uplift to the worker’s pay for work done based on the pay the worker has received; (ii) make this payment at the same time as basic pay for work done; and (iii) itemise this separately on pay slips.

The government has also introduced updated guidance on this from 1 April which can be viewed here.

National Minimum Wage

The usual national minimum wage rates increase was implemented on 1 April 2024 as follows:

• National living wage (for workers aged 21 and over): increased to £11.44 per hour.

• National minimum wage (for workers aged 18 to 20): increased to £8.60 per hour.

• National minimum wage (for workers aged 16 and 17 who are not apprentices and for apprentices under age 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship): increased to £6.40 per hour.

Statutory rates

The rates for statutory benefits have increased as follows:

• Statutory maternity, adoption, shared parental, paternity and parental bereavement pay increased from 7 April 2024 to £184.03 per week.

• Statutory sick pay increase from 6 April 2024 to £116.75 per week.

Tribunal Awards

The annual Employment Tribunal award limit changes now apply as follows:

Compensation for unfair dismissal taking effect on or after 6 April 2024 has an increase to the cap on the compensatory award to the lower of £115,115 or 52-weeks’ gross pay.

The limit on a week’s pay (used for calculating the basic award in unfair dismissal claims and for statutory redundancy payments) increases from £643 to £700. This means that the maximum basic award or statutory redundancy payment is now £21,000.

The “Vento bands” or guidelines used for assessing an injury to feelings award in respect of a successful claim for discrimination or whistleblowing presented on or after 6 April 2024:

Lower band (for less serious cases)                               £1,200 to £11,700
Middle band (for cases that do not merit an                £11,700 to £35,200
award in the upper band)
Upper band (for the most serious cases)                      £35,200 to £58,700

Exceptional cases can exceed these sums.

The Blackadders Employment team are happy to provide advice to you and your business in regard to any of these changes, or any other employment law issues you required support with.

The opinions expressed in this site are of the author(s) only and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Blackadders LLP.

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