Navigating the New Landscape: Key Employment Law Changes of 2024

The start of 2024 has been a busy time for new employment Regulations and Acts coming into force, the majority of which relate to further extending family friendly rights within the workplace.

We have set out below a summary of the changes all of which have now come into force. Employers should therefore undertake a review of their corresponding polices as soon as possible to ensure they include the additional rights and responsibilities set out below.

  1. The Paternity Leave (Amendments) Regulations 2024.

These Regulations came into force on 8 March 2024 and make the following changes:

  • employees can take their two-week paternity leave entitlement as two separate one-week blocks (rather than having to take just one week in total or two consecutive weeks).
  • employees can take paternity leave at any time in the 52 weeks after birth (rather than having to take leave in the 56 days following birth).
  • employees only need to give 28 days’ notice of their intention to take paternity leave (reduced from the previous position that required notice to be given 15 weeks before the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC)).

The Regulations are stated to apply in all cases where the EWC is on, or after, 6 April 2024.  

  • The Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024.

These regulations came into force on 6 April 2024 and extend the period of special protection from redundancy for employees who are on maternity leave, adoption leave or those on shared parental leave. They bring theProtection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 into operation.

Previously, regulation 10 of the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999 stated that parents on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave should be offered first refusal of any suitable alternative employment which may be available in a redundancy situation. This protection is, under the Act, extended as follows:

  • For maternity – the protected period now covers pregnancy, alongside 18 months from the first day of the estimated week of childbirth. The protected period can be changed to cover 18 months from the exact date of birth if the employee gives the employer notice of this date prior to the end of maternity leave.
  • For adoption – the protected period now covers 18 months from placement for adoption.
  • For shared parental leave – the protected period now covers 18 months from birth, provided that the parent has taken a period of at least 6 consecutive weeks of shared parental leave. This protection will not apply if the employee is otherwise protected under one of the two points above.

These new rules apply to any pregnancies notified to the employer on or after 6 April 2024 and in respect of the 6-month additional protected period, any maternity leave ending on or after 6 April 2024.

The new Flexible working Regulations came into force on 6 April 2024.

  • The Regulations remove the requirement that an employee must have 26 weeks’ service in order to be able to make a request for flexible working. The change makes the right to request flexible working a Day One right.
  • This new right applies to flexible working requests made on or after 6 April 2024.
  • Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023

This Act sets out further changes to the rules on flexible working requests and came into force on 6 April 2024. A summary of the changes is:

  • Employees can now make two flexible working requests in any 12-month period (previously only one request).
  • Requests have to be dealt with by employers within two months of receipt of a request if no extension is agreed (previously employers had three months to deal with a request).
  • Employers must consult with an employee before they are able to refuse a request for flexible working.
  • In their application, employees will no longer have to explain what effect they believe agreeing to the request would have on an employer and how any such effect might be dealt with.
  • New Working Time Regulations to simplify holiday entitlement and holiday pay calculations

For those with flexible working arrangements i.e. irregular or part-year contracts, these Regulations are designed to be helpful in providing greater clarity around holiday pay and accrual.

From 1 January 2024, these Regulations:

  • Defined irregular hours workers and part-year workers in relation to the introduction of the holiday entitlement accrual method and rolled-up holiday pay;
  • Removed the Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 which affect the accrual of COVID-19 carryover of leave;
  • Maintained the current rates of holiday pay where 4 weeks is paid at normal rate of pay and 1.6 weeks paid at basic rate of pay, whilst retaining the 2 distinct pots of leave; and
  • Defined what is considered ‘normal remuneration’ in relation to the 4 weeks of statutory annual leave.

The following reforms also apply to leave years beginning on or after 1 April 2024:

  • They set out a method to calculate statutory holiday entitlement for irregular hours and part-year workers;
  • They also set out a method to work out how much leave an irregular hour or part-year worker has accrued when they take maternity or family related leave or are off sick; and
  • They also allow rolled-up holiday pay as an alternative method to calculate holiday pay for irregular hours workers and part-year workers.

If our employment law specialists can assist with any queries on these latest changes or with drafting policy updates, then do not hesitate to get in touch with us at hello@dixcartuk.co.uk and we would be more than happy to help.

The information provided within this document is for general informational purposes only. While every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy, no responsibility can be accepted for inaccuracies. Readers are advised that laws and practices may change over time. This document is provided solely for informational purposes and does not constitute accounting, legal, or tax advice. Professional advice should be sought before making any decisions based on the contents of this document.