As 2023 draws to a close, the H&K Employment Team look ahead to 2024, which promises a variety of developments in employment law. We’ve summarised below some of the key changes to be aware of.
New regulations will come into effect on 1 January 2024 but will apply to holiday years that start on or after 1 April 2024. The changes will be as follows:
In addition, EU law is to be retained making it clear holidays can be carried over where a worker is unable to take their leave due to being on family related or sick leave or where a worker has not been given opportunity to take the leave. It will therefore be important that employers take proactive steps to encourage employees to take leave during the year and ensure that they have sufficient opportunity to do so.
Sexual harassment at work
New legislation will create a proactive obligation on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. The change is likely to come in October 2024 and Employers should review harassment policies / reporting procedures, deal robustly with any complaints and ensure that regular training is provided to all employees in order to demonstrate a proactive approach.Employees will be able to make complaints to the Equality and Human Rights Commission if no preventative steps are taken and if employers cannot prove they have taken steps to protect workers, employment tribunals will have the right to increase compensation in harassment claims by up to 25%.
To help, the Employment Team will be launching specific training sessions for employees on this topic. Get in touch to register your interest now.
Flexible working requests
It has been confirmed that the right to make a flexible working request will become a day one right, scrapping the previous requirement for individuals to have worked continuously for 26 weeks. Under the new rules, employees will be entitled to make 2 requests in a year and will no longer have to explain to their Employer the effect the change is likely to have on the business. Employers will also now have to deal with the requests within 2 months, though the potential reasons for refusing a flexible working requests are to stay the same. The changes will come into effect from 6 April 2024.
Rights for pregnant employees
The protections given to employees on maternity leave are to be extended to apply to pregnant employees too and will last up until 18 months after the birth of their child.The key protection applies during redundancies where pregnant employees or those on maternity leave must be given priority for suitable alternative employment; one of the few examples of lawful positive discrimination. This change will apply to those returning from adoption leave and shared parental leave too, but the implementation date is currently unknown.
National Minimum Wage
As usual,various statutory rates will be increased in April, most notably the National Minimum wage which will be as follows:
The previous banding for employees aged 21-22 has been removed, meaning those workers previously in that bracket will now be entitled to the National Living Wage.
April will also see an increase in the rates of SSP, statutory redundancy pay and pay during statutory leave. We’ll provide a further update nearer the time once those rates have been confirmed.
It is also highly likely that there will be a general election in 2024, with the Labour party currently strong favourites to form the next government. This may impact some of the above changes, but it could also see the implementation of Labour’s “New Deal for Working People” which promises to strengthen rights and protections for workers, ban zero-hour contracts and implement stronger family-friendly rights, amongst other changes.
It looks set to be an interesting year ahead and the Employment Team will continue to keep you updated with all developments through our regular updates and events, details of which will follow in the new year.
In the meantime, do not hesitate to get in touch with any questions or queries.
Our regular employment updates and events keep you up to date with all the latest legal developments you need to know about.