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Holly Navarro

Primas Law

Employment Solicitor

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Upcoming employment law changes: Your need-to-know guide

We are only six months into 2024 and the world of employment law has already seen a number of significant legislative changes take effect. Here are the important changes to employment law that employers need to know.
white lighthouse tower under yellow and white cloudy skies at sunset: a guide to employment law and legislation

In January, the Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023 sought to simplify annual leave and holiday pay calculations by clarifying the definition of a week’s pay and permitting rolled-up holiday pay. 

From April, various other pieces of legislation were introduced to increase legal protections for pregnant women, new parents, those wanting to work flexibly and carers. 

The National Minimum and Living Wage were also increased, as were the rates for statutory payments and Employment Tribunal compensation. 

Employers must be aware of the changes that have already come into force and have taken certain steps, such as revising policies and procedures, to ensure they remain compliant and avoid potential pitfalls. 

Employers must not take their finger off the pulse. There are a number of other employment law changes that are expected later this year and into 2025. 

Employers must be aware of the changes that have already come into force

Agency workers 

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 will aim to give workers and agency workers the right to request a predictable work pattern. It is expected to take effect in Autumn 2024. 

It is crucial to note that this a right to request more predictable hours only, not a right to automatic change.

To make a request, workers must meet specific criteria:

Minimum length of service

To make a statutory request to an employer, a worker must have worked for the employer at least once in the month in the 26 weeks leading up to the day of the request. 

If making a request to an agency, a worker must have had a contract with the agency at some point in the month before the 26 weeks leading up to the day of the request.

If the request is being made to a hirer, a worker must have worked in the same role with the same hirer for 12 continuous weeks within the 26 weeks leading up to the day of the request. 

A working pattern that lacks predictability

The worker’s working pattern must lack predictability. 

A working pattern refers to the number of hours the worker works, the days and time they work or the length of their contract. 

A fixed-term contract of employment for 12 months or less is one type of working pattern which lacks predictability.

Scope and purpose of the request

A statutory request must be in writing. It must include detail of the change the worker is seeking to their working pattern.

For example, fixed working hours, specific days off or a consistent schedule that allows for a better work-life balance. It must also include the date on which the worker would like the change to come into effect.

Employers should … consider mandatory training for all staff

Number of requests

A worker can make two statutory requests for a predictable working pattern within any 12-month period. Only one live request is allowed with their employer at any given time. 

The request remains live during any appeals or until the statutory one-month decision period ends.

Sexual harassment

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 will come into force in October 2024. It will introduce a new duty for employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of their employees at work. 

Employment Tribunals will also be given the power to provide an uplift of up to 25% in compensation if an employer fails to comply with this new duty.

The law does not spell out exactly what counts as “reasonable steps”. But ahead of the new law becoming effective, employers must take proactive steps to ensure compliance. 

Relevant policies and procedures in relation to harassment, bullying and equal opportunities should be reviewed. This is to ensure the new rules are included and clearly explained. 

Employers should also consider mandatory training for all staff, with refreshers offered as and when necessary. 

There must be a clear and transparent reporting procedure for complaints. Record keeping must be effective and compliant with data protection rules. 

Employers must take proactive steps to ensure compliance

Neonatal care

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act will allow employees to take up to 12 weeks’ leave where their child who is up to 28 days old is admitted to hospital for care for a continuous period of seven days or more. 

This will be a day one right. However, to qualify for paid leave, the employee must be employed for a minimum of 26 weeks prior to the leave being requested. They must also earn no less than the lower earnings limit (which, at the time of writing, is £123 per week). 

This new right is not expected to come into force until April 2025.

Tipping 

The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023 was originally proposed to come into force on 1 July 2024. However, a delay until 1 October 2024 has recently been announced. 

This Act aims to enhance fairness in tipping practices and ensure a level playing field for employers by standardising tipping rules.

Under the new rules, employers must pass tips on to their workers. In establishments where tipping is frequent, employers must have a tipping policy in place. 

This policy should outline how tips are collected, distributed and recorded, ensuring transparency and fairness for all employees. 

If a worker believes they are not receiving their due tips, they can request a copy of their tipping record to facilitate resolution. 

Employers should also be aware that failure to comply with the new regulations may result in penalties or legal action.

General election 

The UK general election in July may bring about further significant changes. Labour is currently promising what they are calling the biggest upgrade of workers’ rights in a generation if they are voted into power.  

As part of their “New Deal for Working People”, Labour has pledged to remove the qualifying periods for basic rights such as unfair dismissal, sick pay and parental leave. 

This will create a single employment status of ‘worker’ for all but the genuinely self-employed. Labour has also pledged to extend statutory maternity and paternity leave. 

Labour also proposes to extend the time period for bringing claims to Employment Tribunals. Also, to introduce tougher penalties for those who fail to comply with tribunal orders. 

This includes personal liability for those that were directors of companies at that time.

Only time will tell as to what is actually going to happen. However, Labour’s current plans certainly paint an intriguing picture of a much-altered employment landscape. This is something that employers should keep an eye on.

Failure to comply with the new regulations may result in penalties

Remaining transparent and proactive on employment law

The employment law landscape has already changed significantly this year. These changes are likely to have already had an impact on the day-to-day operation of a business. 

However, employers must ensure they do not lose sight of the upcoming changes they need to prepare for. This will ensure compliance and maintain fair and transparent practices within their organisations. 

Proactively approaching these changes by providing training and updating policies and procedures ahead of time will help employers to successfully navigate the evolving world of employment law. 

Employers should ensure communication with employees is effective and transparent. This will ensure understanding of the upcoming changes. It is important to address any questions or concerns that employees may have. 

If you enjoyed this, read: The business of HR: Navigating the strategic landscape

Author Profile Picture
Holly Navarro

Employment Solicitor

Read more from Holly Navarro
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