As we move forward in 2024, it’s important employers are aware of the upcoming changes and how they need to prepare their businesses accordingly.
Below is a summary of new employment laws likely to be coming into effect in 2024.
The carers leave Act 2023
The Carers Leave Act 2023 looks to cement the rights of those who balance work with caring responsibilities. It will allow employees to take at least one week of unpaid carer’s leave per year and will be a right from day one. This will cover those with an illness or injury that is expected to last more than three months, those with a disability or where care is related to old age. It is expected to come into force in April 2024.
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act
This new legislation grants parents of newborns hospitalised within the first 28 days of life entitlement to Neonatal Leave and Pay if the baby stays continuously in hospital for 7 or more days. This leave is available from the first day of employment.
The maximum duration for this leave is 12 weeks, to be taken as a single block following the conclusion of maternity or paternity leave. It’s worth noting, though, that it’s not yet been confirmed by the UK Government how this new right aligns with shared parental leave. Also, eligibility for statutory neonatal pay necessitates 26 weeks of service and earnings surpassing the lower earnings limit (currently £123 per week).
Although originally expected in 2025, It’s looking likely this law will come into force in 2024.
Flexible Working Act
Employees across the UK will be given greater flexibility over where and when they work. Employers will be required to consider any flexible working requests from the first day of their employment. Employers must consult with employees who make a request and make a decision within 2 months of the request being made. Employers must provide a reason before rejection. Employees can now make two statutory requests for flexible working within any 12-month period and they no longer need to explain how a change in flexible working would affect their employer or how they will deal with that change.
Its likely employers can expect to see changes from around July 2024.
Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act
Currently, protection is given to employees on maternity, shared parental or adoption leave, in that they have a right to be offered a suitable alternative role, if one is available, before they are made redundant and must be preferred for the role, all other things remaining equal.
This new Act – due to be implemented in April 2024 will extend this protection to pregnant employees and employees recently returning from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.
Holiday pay and TUPE changes
Holiday pay for part-time and irregular hours workers has been reformed so their entitlement is calculated at 12.07 per cent of hours worked in a pay period.
The decision was made to reform holiday pay for such workers after the Supreme Court’s decision in Harpur Trust v Brazel resulted in part-year workers receiving more holiday entitlement than part-time workers who worked the same number of hours on an annual basis.
The reforms will also see changes to Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) rights, which protect employees and their benefits when their organisation transfers from one employer to another.
The changes look to ease the pressure on small businesses by allowing them to consult with their new employees directly if there are no existing worker representatives in place. Where employee representatives – including trade unions – are in place, employers will be required to consult them.
These changes are likely to come into force as early as January 2024
Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2020) Act
Legislation on the duty to prevent sexual harassment is expected to be in place from October 2024. Under the new law, all employers will be under a statutory duty to take reasonable steps to stop sexual harassment happening in the workplace. If reasonable steps have not been taken to prevent sexual harassment and an employee is sexually harassed and successfully brings a claim, then the Equality and Human Rights Commission can take enforcement steps, plus any successful tribunal claim will be subject to a compensation uplift of up to 25 per cent.
Miscarriage leave bill
The miscarriage leave bill looks to introduce three days of paid leave for people who have experienced baby loss before 24 weeks as, under current legislation, those going through the loss are not entitled to any paid leave.
Only a handful of countries currently have miscarriage leave, including New Zealand, India and the Philippines.
The second reading of the bill was meant to take place in November 2023 but was postponed and we are yet to hear of a new date in 2024.
Why do employers need to prepare?
Its vital employers keep on top of new legislation and consider the implications and practicalities of these changes for their organisations. Employers need to prepare their businesses accordingly by updating polices, communicating information to employees regarding the changes and ensuring processes are adopted to support compliance when these laws become enforceable.
This is not only to reduce legal risk, but also to ensure employees can benefit from any new entitlements, which will help foster a workplace culture that promotes fairness and wellbeing.
BedrockHR are leading HR consultants in the South East, working with business owners to understand the latest acts which could affect your employees and their employment. Book a discovery call today to learn more about our HR services and how we can help your business.