Nine employment law changes businesses need to prepare for in 2024

It’s set to be an unprecedented year when it comes to changes in employment law, meaning a host of new obligations and processes for businesses to be aware of.

The changes will have a real impact on the day-to-day operations, at a time when SMEs, in particular, are under significant economic pressure. It’s businesses that think ahead and proactively update their contracts and procedures in order to anticipate the changes that will fare best in 2024.

Carer’s leave

Anticipated to come into force on 6 April 2024, the Carer’s Leave Act entitles employees to request up to one week of unpaid leave to provide or arrange care of a dependent with a long-term need. The minimum period of Carer’s Leave will be a half day.

Flexible working

This is one of the more heavily trailed employment law changes and comes following a widespread transition to hybrid working during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is anticipated that from 6 April 2024 employees will be able to make flexible working requests from the first day of their employment.

Predictable working patterns

Similar to flexible working requests, from October 2024 workers will have the right to request a more predictable working pattern if they work irregular hours or are on a temporary contract of less than 12 months. Employers will need their protocol ready in advance.

Changes to holiday law

There are forthcoming changes to holiday pay laws for workers who work irregular hours each pay period or who are ‘part-year workers’, namely people who have periods of time during the year where they are under a contract, but are not required to work and don’t receive any pay.

From this new holiday year and going forward, businesses will be able to accrue holiday for irregular hours or part-year workers on the last day of each pay period at the rate of 12.07 per cent of the hours worked during that pay period and either: Pay them equivalent rolled-up holiday pay or pay them averaged holiday pay when they take off this accrued time.

Neonatal care changes

It is anticipated these will come into force in late 2024/early 2025. Employees will have a day-one right to take up to 12 weeks leave if their child of 28 days old or younger is admitted to hospital for seven days or more. This new legislation will also provide a right for statutory neonatal pay.

New worker protections against sexual harassment

From October 2024, employers will have a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment. Those in breach face up to a potential 25 per cent increase on a relevant Tribunal award.

Allocation of tips

New rules coming into force mean that 100 per cent of tips received by an employer must be given to workers without deduction, except those required by law – e.g. any taxation. Records must be kept for at least three years. A draft Code of Practice is currently under consultation and this comes into effect on 1 July 2024.

Post-termination restrictions

The government has announced that it will legislate to limit non-compete post-termination clauses to a maximum length of three months. There’s no timeframe established for these changes as of yet, but businesses should be aware this could come into force this year.

Gill McAteer, director of employment law at Citation explains: “Remaining compliant will take significant preparation from business owners - contracts and policies will need to be updated, managers will need to receive training, and employees briefed well in advance, tasks all complicated by the fact that we do not yet have all relevant information available on these new changes.”

By Mark Adair – Correspondent, Bdaily

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