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Maria Hoeritzauer

Crossland Employment Solicitors


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How HR is business-critical in 2024

Change across HR and employment regulation this year is affecting organisations of all sizes. By keeping abreast of statutory changes HR can advise and support accordingly.
shallow focus photograph of black and gray compass: equipping HR to advise on the way forward on statutory changes

HR is business critical for organisations of all sizes and in all sectors this year. 

There has been a significant amount of change across HR and employment regulation in 2024. This is after several years of no or limited changes to employee entitlements.

This is impacting organisations regardless of size. It is likely to increase if the impending general election results in a change of government. 

Key employment law changes

The latest changes in April 2024 cover a wide swathe of employment law, including holiday pay and holiday leave. 

For example, the new right to pay rolled up holiday pay to those with irregular hours or working part-year and for all workers to carry forward up to eight days holiday to the next holiday year.

There is also the introduction of one week’s unpaid carer’s leave, changes to paternity leave and extended redundancy protection for those who are made redundant when pregnant or on family-friendly leave. 

Later in the year, a positive duty to take reasonable steps to prevent harassment, particularly sexual harassment, will be imposed on all employers.

Paternity leave can now be taken as either two consecutive weeks, or two separate blocks of one week of leave. In either case, it can be taken in the first 52 weeks after childbirth, rather than the first eight weeks. 

The extended redundancy protection means if during pregnancy (advised after 6 April 2024) or the 18 months after the first day of childbirth or, in the case of adoption, the date of placement, an employee is made redundant then the employer must offer the employee any suitable available vacancy that exists. Either with the organisation itself, its successor and/or any associated employer without competitive interview. 

There has been a significant amount of change across HR and employment regulation in 2024

Sound advice

HR advisers need to be aware of these changes and assess how they affect existing staff. Then, they can advise their organisation on how best to accommodate and deal with them. 

One such step is to review the workforce and identify how many staff are working irregular hours, or on a part-year basis and could be paid rolled up holiday pay. 

Other steps include reviewing and revising employment contracts and policies to ensure they reflect the changes. Plus, empowering managers through training so they are comfortable dealing with latest practice.

While it is impossible to know now the exact consequences a change of government might mean for HR, we can be certain HR will need to keep abreast of any new legal developments. HR must also understand their potential, changes made that apply to their organisation and be able to advise accordingly.

With large-scale events such as the Olympics and the Euros also occurring in 2024, HR needs to help employers identify and communicate their expectations on staffing levels and behaviour during these periods. 

Arrangements will be employer-specific. To discourage absences, they could include allowing staff to watch certain events during working hours and make up the time outside their normal working hours.

We can be certain HR will need to keep abreast of any new legal developments

New flexible working changes

Employers face an ongoing effort to ensure that working arrangements meet internal resourcing and commercial needs. Most are encouraging a greater return to the workplace and more days in the office. 

HR needs to ensure that employers understand where employees’ contractual place of work is. Also, if changes such as hybrid or remote working are temporary or permanent. Also, how any changes to those can be achieved without disengaging staff and resulting in tribunal claims. 

HR is critical to helping managers identify at the outset why exactly they desire a greater or full return to the office and communicating this to staff. 

Any staff unhappy with any attempt to change current working arrangements may submit a flexible working request. 

HR is also essential to an employer in ensuring that managers know and can comply with these statutory changes which came into force in April with policies updated accordingly. 

These changes give staff the right to make a request from day one of employment. They can make up to two formal requests annually. 

HR is already as business-critical this year as it was during the pandemic

Meeting requirements

In addition, HR advisers need to ensure that managers recognise a flexible working request. They must also understand the limited reasons for rejecting a request. Additionally, the need to consult with employees if they are planning to reject a request and the two month (reduced from three months) timeframe in which to deal with it. 

Also, for businesses proposing redundancies, HR needs to ensure that consultation requirements are met. This includes the need to consult with employees at a formative stage. Plus, manage staff who face a more difficult job market this year. 

Where employees envisage that it will take longer to find a similar role, it is more likely that HR will field increasing challenges about a redundancy consultation. This is while supporting those who have survived any significant reduction in headcount. 

All in all, HR is already as business-critical this year as it was during the pandemic.

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Maria Hoeritzauer


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