15 May 2024

Published in: Member News

Expert lawyers are warning employers to be aware of new changes to employment law which came into effect in April

Heading into the new tax year, employers and HR professionals face several new legislative employment law changes including changes to Working Time Regulations and family friendly rights.

Taking effect from 1 April the way holiday pay can be calculated has changed. Holiday accrual for irregular-hours and part-year workers can be calculated on 12.07% of the hours worked in the previous pay period. Rolled-up holiday pay may also be permitted in certain instances.

Additionally, the Immigration Skilled Worker Pay rate has also changed with the general annual salary threshold for new skilled worker applications increasing from £26,200 to £38,700 for applications made on or after 4 April 2024. The ‘going’ hourly rate will also increase from £10.75 to £15.88 per hour and the Shortage Occupation List is being scrapped and replaced by the new Immigration Salary List.

From 6 April, several family friendly rights came into effect including a new entitlement of Carer’s leave of up to one (working) week’s unpaid leave in every 12 months for employees who care for dependents with long term needs.

Maternity leave, regulations have seen change including the protection from redundancy during pregnancy beginning as soon as an employee tells their employer they are pregnant. If the employee is not entitled to statutory maternity leave then the protected period ends two weeks after the pregnancy ends.

The protection during relevant leave will last for 18 months from the date of birth/adoption placement in most cases, and it will continue even if the employee returns to work.

The new rules will apply to any pregnancies notified to the employer on or after 6 April 2024 and any maternity leave ending on or after 6 April 2024 and any adoption / shared parental leave starting on or after 6 April 2024.

Changes to Paternity leave provisions allow fathers and partners to now be able to split their paternity leave and pay into two separate one week periods. They will also be able to take their leave and pay at any time in the first year after their child is born or adopted (rather than the first 8 weeks).

The following key changes to flexible working requests also came into effect:

  1. The right to request flexible working becomes a day one employment right
  2. Employees won’t have to explain how their request may affect the employer or what can be done to mitigate the effect of their request
  3. Employees can make two requests (instead of one) in any 12-month period
  4. Employers won’t be able to refuse a request unless the employee has been consulted
  5. Without an agreed extension, employers will have to make a decision in two months (previously three months)

New rate changes were also announced from 6 April 2024 including statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental and parental bereavement leave pay and national minimum wage increases.

Specialist employment lawyer, Gina McCadden of national law firm Clarke Willmott LLP, said: “These changes are good news for employees and are important for employers and HR departments to be aware of.

“Falling foul of these new laws could lead to a claim being made to an Employment Tribunal, a lengthy and costly mistake to make. “As well as the changes laid out here, there are more changes on the horizon. Anticipated for September 2024 is a change to the Workers (predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 which will see workers and agency staff have the right to request more predictable working patterns where there is a lack of predictability, for example in zero hours contracts.

“In October we expect to see an update regarding the protection from harassment. There will be a new duty on employers to take ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent sexual harassment of their employees. Employment tribunals will be able to uplift any compensation by up to 25% if this duty is breached.

“Finally, there is a change expected to the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 from approximately April 2025. Parents will be entitled to 12 weeks of paid leave should their newborn baby be hospitalised in their first 28 days of life for 7 days or more.”

Clarke Willmott’s employment team can help with all employment and HR issues from providing guidance on day-to-day workforce queries, to advising on restructuring and outsourcing projects and employment tribunal claims.

Should you have any queries regarding these new developments you can get in touch with the team here  https://www.clarkewillmott.com/legal-services/employment-hr/  

Clarke Willmott is a national law firm with offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton and Taunton.

Submitted by Karen from Clarke Willmott LLP
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