2024 Predictions: What's on the horizon for employment law?

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Last year, the cost-of-living crisis, industrial action and global conflicts dominated the headlines and added to the challenges faced by UK businesses. So, what does 2024 have in store for employers, in the employment law arena at least?

Changes to the Working Time Regulations and TUPE

Following a consultation last year, the government published the Draft Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023 on 8 November 2023. These Regulations came into effect on 1 January 2024 and make the following changes:

  • Amending the Working Time Regulations 1998 to provide that employers do not have to keep a record of the daily working hours of all workers if they are able to demonstrate compliance without doing so.
  • Clarifying that holiday pay for the purposes of the 4 weeks’ holiday derived from the Working Time Directive will be calculated using the existing statutory definition of a week’s pay plus:
    • payments intrinsically linked to the performance of tasks under the contract (such as commission)
    • payments for professional or personal status relating to length of service, seniority or professional qualifications
    • payments, such as overtime, that have been regularly paid to the worker in the previous 52 weeks
  • Removing irregular hours workers and part-year workers from the scope of existing holiday entitlements. These workers will instead be entitled to holiday accrued on the basis of 12.07% of the hours worked in the previous pay period, and the employer can choose to operate a system of rolled-up holiday pay where holiday is paid as an uplift of 12.07% to the normal rate of pay at the time work is done, rather than being paid when holiday is taken. However, these rules will only apply to leave years which start on or after 1 April 2024.
  • Implementing rights to carry over untaken holiday to the next holiday year derived from retained EU case law into UK law.
  • Removing the requirement to elect employee representatives for the purposes of informing and consulting on a TUPE transfer where the employer has fewer than 50 employees or where the transfer is of fewer than 10 employees. In these situations, the employer can consult directly with the affected employees. This will apply to TUPE transfers taking place on or after 1 July 2024.

Acts awaiting implementing regulations

Last year saw several Private Member’s Bills receive Royal Assent. However, for the provisions of these Acts to come into force, implementing regulations need to be made. 

  • The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 – draft implementing regulations (the Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024) were published in early December 2023, and, if passed, will bring into force from 6 April 2024 the right for UK employees to take one week’s unpaid carer’s leave each leave year to provide or arrange care for a dependent with a long-term care need.
  • The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 – draft implementing regulations (the Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024), were laid before Parliament on 11 December 2023 and seek to bring into force from 6 April 2024 additional redundancy protections by extending the right to be offered suitable alternative vacancies in a redundancy situation for employees from the moment they tell their employer about their pregnancy until 18 months after the date of birth or, in cases of adoption, 18 months after the child’s placement or date they enter GB.
  • The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 – implementing regulations will be needed to bring in the various changes to the right to request flexible working laid down in the Act, drafts of which are awaited as is an updated Acas Code of Practice on handling requests for flexible working. Alongside these regulations, the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023, published at the start of December, will, if passed, remove the current 26 weeks service requirement to make a flexible working request on or after 6 April 2024, thereby making it a “Day One” right from that date. 
  • The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 places a duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of employees in the course of their employment and provides for a 25% uplift in compensation in cases of sexual harassment where the employer is found to have breached that duty. The Act is expected to come into force on or around October 2024.
  • The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 gives workers and agency workers the right to request a predictable work pattern in certain circumstances, and implementing regulations are expected to come into force around September 2024. In October, Acas launched a consultation on a new Statutory Code of Practice on handling requests for a predictable working pattern following the Act. The draft Code suggests a procedure dealing with requests and the consultation seeks views on the draft Code and the guidance Acas will produce to accompany the Code. The consultation is open until 17 January 2024.

National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW)

From 1 April 2024, the NLW for workers aged 21 and over will rise from £10.42 to £11.44 an hour.

NMW rates will also rise as follows:

  • Apprentice rate: £6.40 an hour.
  • 16–17-year-olds: £6.40 an hour.
  • 18–20-year-olds: £8.60 an hour.
  • Accommodation offset:  £9.99 per week

Other developments

In March 2022, the government announced that a new Statutory Code of Practice would be published on the use of dismissal and re-engagement to change employees’ terms and conditions. On 24 January 2023, a consultation was launched seeking views of the draft Statutory Code of Practice on Dismissal and Re-engagement. The response to the consultation is awaited but indications are that it will be published in Spring 2024 along with the final version of the Code.

Statutory rates of pay, such as for statutory sick pay and statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental pay and statutory parental bereavement pay, normally increase in April each year. An announcement outlining the amount of the increase from this April is awaited. 

Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.

 

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