Employment Law Changes for April 2024

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Employment Law Changes for April 2024

April 2024 introduces a number of changes to Employment Law.

The key changes to be aware of are set out below.

1) Additional redundancy protection

The Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 SI 2024/264 (‘the MASPA Regulations’) introduce additional redundancy protections with effect from 6 April 2024. The MASPA Regulations extend the period of protection after returning to work from relevant family-related leave, referred to as the ‘additional protected period’, until 18 months after the expected week of childbirth or date of birth or, in adoption cases, the child’s placement or date of entry into Great Britain. The MASPA Regulations also introduce protection during pregnancy, beginning when the employer is informed of the pregnancy and ending on the day statutory maternity leave starts or, if the pregnancy ends and the employee is not entitled to statutory maternity leave, two weeks after the end of the pregnancy.

Where the protected period covers pregnancy, the new rules apply where the employee notifies the employer of her pregnancy on or after 6 April 2024. Where it relates to a period after relevant leave, the new rules apply to maternity and adoption leave ending on or after 6 April 2024 and to a period of six consecutive weeks’ shared parental leave starting on or after 6 April 2024.

A hypothetical example:

Sam’s baby is born in October 2024. In January 2026 Sam is selected for redundancy. This is less than 18 months since the baby was born. Sam is still in the redundancy protected period. So, if there are any suitable alternative vacancies, the employer must offer them to Sam as a priority.

Please refer to our separate article on the MASPA Regulations.

2. Carer’s leave

The Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024 SI 2024/251 bring the new statutory entitlement to unpaid carer’s leave into force on 6 April 2024. An employee who has a dependant with a long-term care need may take one week’s unpaid leave to provide or arrange care in each rolling 12-month period. ‘Dependant’ and ‘long-term care need’ are defined in S.80J of the Employments Rights Act 1996, inserted by the Carer’s Leave Act 2023.

Carer’s leave may be taken in either individual days or half days, up to a block of one week, and need not be taken on consecutive days. The required notice period is either twice as many days as the period of leave required, or three days, whichever is the greater. An employer cannot decline a request altogether but may postpone carer’s leave where it reasonably considers that the operation of the business would be unduly disrupted if it allowed the leave during the requested period.

Hypothetical example of carer’s leave if someone works variable hours over 12 months

Sam works variable hours. In the previous 12 months, working back from the date the leave would start, they worked 780 hours in total. 780 divided by 52 is 15 hours. Sam can take up to 15 hours of carer’s leave.

Hypothetical example of carer’s leave if someone works variable hours for 6 weeks

Charlie works variable hours. In the previous 6 weeks, working back from the date the leave would start, they worked 180 hours in total. 180 divided by 6 is 30 hours. Charlie can take up to 30 hours of carer’s leave.

3) Flexible working

The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 SI 2023/1328 come into force on 6 April 2024, removing the eligibility condition of 26 weeks’ continuous employment so as to make the right to request flexible working a ‘day one’ right. The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 also comes into force on 6 April and makes further changes to the right to make a flexible working request and the statutory procedure that must be followed by an employer when considering such a request, including increasing the number of requests an employee can make in a 12-month period to two, and requiring the employer to consult with an employee before rejecting a request.

The Acas Code of Practice on requests for flexible working is amended with effect from 6 April 2024 to reflect the above changes and support employers and employees with the new scheme. A failure to follow the Code does not, in itself, make a person or organisation liable to legal proceedings but employment tribunals will take the Code into account when considering relevant cases.

4) Paternity leave

The Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 SI 2024/329 and the Statutory Paternity Pay (Amendment) Regulations 2024 SI 2024/121 bring in changes to the statutory paternity leave and pay schemes with effect from 6 April 2024. These changes include increasing the period during which leave can be taken to within 52 weeks of the child’s birth or placement, allowing leave to be taken in two separate blocks of one week, and adjusting the notice required to be given.

5) Annual leave for irregular hours and part-year workers

The new annual leave rules relating to irregular hours and part-year workers which were introduced by the Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023 SI 2023/1426 will apply in respect of any leave years beginning on or after 1 April 2024. The Department for Business and Trade updated its guidance on the new rules on 1 April. 

Holiday pay for irregular hours workers and part-year workers is based on their average pay over the previous 52 weeks.

This rule applies regardless of when the worker’s leave year starts.

A hypothetical example, Jane takes a week’s holiday, starting on 1 June. Jane’s average weekly pay from the previous 52 weeks is £250. Jane should receive £250 holiday pay for their week of holiday.

For a more detailed analysis on the changes to holiday, please refer to our article on Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023.

6) National minimum wage rises

With effect from 1 April 2024, the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2024 SI 2024/432 amend the hourly rates of the national minimum wage (NMW) and national living wage (NLW) set out in the National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015 SI 2015/621 as follows:

  • the NLW is extended to apply to workers aged 21 and over (down from 23 and over) and increases from £10.42 to £11.44 per hour
  • the NMW for 18- to 20-year-olds increases from £7.49 to £8.60 per hour
  • the NMW for 16- to 17-year-olds increases from £5.28 to £6.40 per hour; and
  • the apprentice rate increases from £5.28 to £6.40 per hour.

7) Rates for statutory payments

The Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2024 SI 2024/242 increases the rate of payment for a range of statutory leave entitlements. With effect from 7 April 2024, statutory maternity pay (after the first six weeks), statutory adoption pay (after the first six weeks), statutory paternity pay, statutory shared parental pay and statutory parental bereavement pay will be £184.03 per week (increased from £172.48) or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. The same increase applies to maternity allowance from 8 April 2024.

With effect from 6 April 2024, statutory sick pay will rise from £109.40 to £116.75 per week.

8) Tribunal compensation

The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2024 SI 2024/213 comes into force on 6 April 2024 and increases certain levels of compensation payable where employment rights are breached. The most common of these are the amount of a week’s pay (used for calculating both the basic award for unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy pay), increasing from £643 to £700, and the cap on the compensatory award for unfair dismissal, increasing from £105,707 to £115,115.

The Seventh Addendum to the Presidential Guidance originally issued on 5 September 2017 by the Presidents of the Employment Tribunals in Scotland and England and Wales confirms that, for claims presented on or after 6 April 2024, the ‘Vento bands’ for injury to feelings compensation shall be:

  • a lower band of £1,200 to £11,700 (less serious cases)
  • a middle band of £11,700 to £35,200 (cases that do not merit an award in the upper band); and
  • an upper band of £35,200 to £58,700 (the most serious cases), with the most exceptional cases capable of exceeding £58,700.

If you require Employment Law advice, please contact our Employment Team on 0121 786 2555.

Zahid Reza

Employment Solicitor