Key Employment Law Changes

Key Employment Law Changes: April 2024

19/04/2024

From 6 April 2024, new legislation has expanded rights for employees, including alterations to flexible working and paternity leave, enhanced redundancy protection during pregnancy/maternity leave, and a new statutory entitlement to unpaid carer’s leave. Additionally, annual changes to national minimum wage rates, compensation limits, and statutory payments took effect in early April.

These key changes include:

Flexible Working

Amendments to flexible working regulations, removes the requirement of 26 weeks’ continuous employment for making a flexible working request. Employees can now make a request from their first day of employment. Employees can now make two rather than one request a year for flexible working, and the deadline for employers to respond to a employees request for flexible working has been reduced from three to two months. Employees no longer have to explain the impact of their request for flexible work will have on the business. Employers will also have to consult with the employee before denying any request. The list of reasons employers can use to deny a flexible working requests remains the same.

Carer’s Leave

The Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024 introduces a new statutory entitlement to unpaid carer’s leave. It provides that employees can take one week of unpaid leave within a rolling 12-month period to provide or arrange care for a dependant with a long-term care needs. A dependant includes a spouse, civil partner, child, parent or other dependant who needs care because of a disability, old age or any illness or injury likely to require at least three months of care. There is no qualifying period.

Additional Redundancy Protection

Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 and Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 both came into force on the 6 April 2024. MASPA Regulations extend redundancy protections, including during pregnancy, until 18 months after relevant family-related leave. The aim is to offer greater protection to employees against discrimination and unfair dismissal. Employers must offer suitable alternative vaccines to those under protection, ahead of other candidates.

Paternity Leave

Changes to statutory paternity leave and pay schemes, effective 6 April 2024, include allowing leave within 52 weeks of the child’s birth or placement and permitting leave to be taken in two separate blocks.

Annual Leave

New rules regarding annual leave for irregular hours and part-year workers. Further information can be found here.

National Minimum Wage Rises

Changes to hourly rates of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) came into force on 1 April 2024. From this date:

  • NLW (21 and over) £11.44 per hour
  • 18 – 20 Year Old Rate £8.60 per hour
  • 16 – 17 Year Old Rate £6.40 per hour
  • Apprentice Rate £6.40 per hour

Rates for Statutory Payments

From 7 April 2024, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) increase to £116.75 per week. Statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay, shared parental leave and statutory parental bereavement leave pay will be £184.03 per week (or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate).

Tribunal Compensation

  • The cap on a week’s pay, which is used to calculate statutory redundancy payments, has increased from £643 to £700. An employer will need to take care to ensure that they use the new rates when calculating redundancy payments, basic awards and other sums based on a weeks’ pay.
  • From 6 April 2024, the maximum basic award in an unfair dismissal case will be £21,000 and the maximum compensatory award will be £115,115, or 52 weeks’ pay. The maximum compensatory award is lower of statutory limit or 52 weeks’ actual gross pay at the time of dismissal. The limit does not apply where reason for dismissal or redundancy selection is carrying out health and safety activities or making a protected disclosure.
  • For claims which give rise to for compensation for injury to feelings, the ‘Vento bands’ for claims lodged on or after 6 April 2024 are now as follows:
    • Lower band of £1,200 to £11,700
    • Middle band of £11,700 to £35,200; and
    • Upper band of £35,200 to £58,700. The upper band representing the most serious cases. Exceptional cases are capable of exceeding the £58,700 guideline limit.

There has been no change to the limits of a claim for breach of contract in the Employment Tribunal which currently stands at £25,000.  There has been no change with regard to 90 days pay (limit on a week’s pay does not apply) for failure to inform or consult in a collective redundancy process (limit on week’s pay does not apply) nor in respect of a failure to inform or consult arising from a TUPE transfer which is still 13 weeks’ pay.

For more information

In order to comply with the above changes, employers should review and update their policies and procedures as necessary. HR and line managers should also be made aware of the changes and given appropriate training. 

Should you require any further information on the above changes or have an employment matter which you wish to discuss, the please do not hesitate to contact our Employment team.

The above is meant to be only advice and is correct as of the time of posting. This article was written by Alex Pearce, Senior Associate in the Employment Team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of April 2024.

19/04/2024

Authors

Alex Pearce

Senior Associate

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