19 Apr 2024  •  Blog, HR & Employment Law  •  5min read By  • Sarah Buxton

Changes to employment law this year

This year there will be a number of changes to employment law that practices should be aware of. Here, Director & HR Solicitor at Buxton Coates Solicitors, Sarah Buxton, outlines what’s coming up.

As of April 2024, several changes to employment law come into effect to address evolving workplace dynamics and to ensure fair treatment of employees. These updates affect a range of areas including wages, benefits, working conditions and employee rights.

First up are the changes to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) which came into effect from 1st April. From this date the hourly rate for apprentices and 16 to 17-year-olds will increase from £5.28 to £6.40. The rate for young people aged 18 -20 goes up to £8.60 (from £7.49). Workers aged 21 and over will be entitled to the National Living Wage, which means their hourly pay will go from £10.42 to £11.44.

Holiday pay and leave – April 2024

Also, from April the government has confirmed changes to holiday pay and leave that has come into effect. These are the changes:

  • Introduced rolled-up holiday pay for irregular hours and part-year workers
  • Introduced an accrual method to calculate entitlement at 12.07% of hours worked in a pay period for irregular hours and part-year workers in the first year of employment and beyond
  • Introduced a method of accrual of annual leave for irregular hours and part-year workers for when they are on other periods of leave (e.g. maternity, other family related leave or sick leave)
  • Restated various pieces of retained EU case law considered necessary to retain workers’ overall level of protection and entitlement in relation to carry over annual leave when a worker is unable to take their leave.

Flexible working request – April 2024

Employees have the right to make a flexible working request, requesting to change:

  • The number of hours they work
  • When they start or finish work
  • The days they work
  • Where they work.

From 6th April 2024, the following amendments will be made:

  • Employees will be able to request flexible working from their first day in a new job. Previously an employee needed to have worked for an employer for 26 weeks
  • Employers will need to make a decision within two months of receiving the flexible working request. Previously an employer needed to make a decision within three months
  • An employee will be able to make two applications for flexible working within a 12-month period. Previously, an employee could make one application within a 12-month period.

Paternity leave – From April 6th

The rules for paternity leave are also changing.

  • Partners can take statutory paternal leave at any point within the 12 months after their child is born; previously this was during the first eight weeks
  • Partners can take statutory paternity leave as two non-consecutive blocks; previously leave needed to be taken as either one week or two consecutive weeks
  • The notice period required for parental leave has been shortened to 28 days.

Carer’s leave – From April 6th

Employees will be entitled to unpaid leave to give care to someone who relies on them and has:

  • A physical or mental illness or injury that means they will need care for more than three months
  • A disability (defined under the Equality Act 2010)
  • Care needs because of their older age.

Employees are entitled to take carer’s leave from their first day in a new job and can take up to one week of leave every 12 months. The leave can be taken as one whole week or as single whole or half days. Employees will be able to self-certify their eligibility for the leave and will not be required to provide evidence. Employers are able to give counter notice to postpone the leave where they consider that the operation of their business would be disproportionately disrupted. However, they are not able to deny it.

Redundancy for pregnant employees – From April 6th

Employees who are on maternity leave have greater protection and rights against redundancy than other staff members. Pregnant employees will have the same rights as employees on maternity leave.

Predictable working pattern request – September 2024

Coming up later in the year, staff with unpredictable working hours (zero hours, agency workers, etc.) will have a legal right to request a more predictable working pattern. Although not yet confirmed, we expect that an employee will need to have worked for an employer for 26 weeks.

Neonatal care leave – October 2024

There will be a new statutory leave for parents/guardians whose babies are receiving neonatal care. Employees whose babies are in neonatal care will be able to have additional time off work on top of maternity and paternity leave. Employees will be entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks of neonatal leave.

These changes to employment law underscore the ongoing efforts to foster a fair, inclusive and supportive work environment for all individuals. You are advised to stay informed about these updates and ensure you comply with the latest regulations and mitigate legal risks.

About Sarah

Sarah Buxton specialises in acting exclusively for dentists, dental managers and dental practice owners in all aspects of HR and employment law and is a director at Buxton Coates Solicitors Ltd Sarah advises dental practices on managing and motivating their staff, dealing with sickness absence, assisting with making changes to employment contracts and, if needed, how to bring the employment relationship to an end.


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