Author Profile Picture

Kate Palmer


HR Advice and Consultancy Director

Read more about Kate Palmer

How employers can prepare for the influx of fresh employment law in 2024

Kate Palmer covers some of the big changes coming to employment law in 2024.
assorted-color lear hanging decor

There is an age-old saying that when you’re waiting for a bus three come at once. 

This has never been truer than for employment law in 2024 with a plethora of new changes due to take effect in April, giving employers plenty to wrap their head around.

Rise of NMW and NWL

One change that has many employers concerned is the annual rise in the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW). 

While this increases every year, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s announcement in the Autumn Statement that, for the first time ever, the qualifying age for the National Living Wage is being lowered to 21 years old. 

It will mean that businesses will end up paying the increased rate to more staff in their organisation. This is a significant change that will impact many SMEs, and the increased wages could mean that some employers have to look at increasing costs or reducing their workforce to allow for it.

Employers must start preparing now to avoid the potential of being named and shamed on the annual list published by the government of companies that are found to have paid below minimum wage. 

Changes to flexible working

Another big change coming is for flexible working laws. Flexible working has been a huge talking point over the past couple of years with many employers struggling to recruit for full-time in-office working. 

With large businesses such as Amazon, Twitter and Disney increasingly returning to full-time office working, Lord Sugar making national headlines with his comment that “You don’t learn by sitting at home in your pyjamas”, and many employees prioritising flexible or hybrid roles, it’s clear that the new changes could set the stage for a standoff between employers and employees. 

As the law currently stands, employees can request flexible working once they have had 26 weeks of continuous service. From April 6 this requirement will be removed, with employees having the right to request flexible working from their first day of employment. 

The change could potentially cause issues where an employer recruits for a role that is full-time in-person working, then on the first day of the new job, the employee turns around and requests to work remotely. 

employers are required to fairly allocate any tips and gratuities between staff

Request amends

From the 6 April employees will also be able to make 2 requests a year, instead of the current one, and employers will have less time to respond to these requests – 2 months as opposed to the current three. 

Employers should prepare for an influx of flexible working requests from their teams but, it’s important to note that, while employees have the right to make these requests, there is no requirement for employers to grant them. They can turn down requests for specific business reasons if it is simply not feasible for employees to do their jobs remotely.  

Flexible working is not for everyone and there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to business. Employers should weigh up the pros and cons of what flexible working would mean for their organisation to determine whether they can grant their employees’ requests. At the end of the day, though, the decision is down to the employer. 

Distribution of tips and gratuities

Tips and gratuities have long been a grey area with the way they are distributed amongst teams or whether bosses pocket the extra change causing significant controversy within the hospitality industry. 

From 1 July, the new Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023 will take effect, so employers should start preparing now. Under the new law, employers are required to fairly allocate any tips and gratuities between staff in line with the Statutory Code of Practice. They should also have a policy in place clearly outlining the way that tips will be distributed.

This will be welcome news for many hospitality workers, including those at popular steak house chain, Miller & Carter. The company caused a social media storm after introducing a new policy forcing waiting for staff to share their tips with kitchen, bar, and management staff to ‘help pay other staff’.

employers will have a duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure that employees are not subject to sexual harassment in the workplace

Sexual harassment at work

Following many high-profile cases of workplace harassment, including McDonald’s which hit the headlines when hundreds of complaints of harassment and sexual harassment were made, a new law aims to take further steps to stamp out unwanted behaviour. 

From October 2024, employers will have a duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure that employees are not subject to sexual harassment in the workplace.

It’s important that everyone has a safe working environment, and employers have a reasonable duty to ensure the health and wellbeing of all their employees. So, regardless of this new requirement, preventing harassment in the workplace should be high on every employers’ agenda. 

Review harassment policies, make it clear that you have a zero-tolerance policy towards any bullying or harassment, and ensure that any allegations are fully and promptly investigated. 

Shhh, don’t say strikes!

Of course, we can’t look at the year ahead without mentioning strikes. Just two months into the new year, train strikes are again causing disruption for commuters across the country. 

The government introduced a new minimum service level act in a bid to minimise this disruption, but it’s likely that the industrial action will rumble on for some time regardless. 

Employees and employers should make contingency plans to help minimise the impact on their business, for example, considering allowing remote work or adjusting working hours on days when strikes are taking place.

2024 is a year of legal change like no other. There are also changes coming to pensions, paternity care, and annual leave –  to name a few. 

It’s important that employers remain vigilant and ensure that they keep up to date on all the new changes that are coming to remain compliant. If in doubt, seek advice.

Author Profile Picture
Kate Palmer

HR Advice and Consultancy Director

Read more from Kate Palmer

Get the latest from HRZone

Subscribe to expert insights on how to create a better workplace for both your business and its people.


Thank you.