Welcome back to our latest Employment Law blog. There have been several changes and updates made to policies over the last few months, and if you’re a business owner with employees then we’re sure you will want to know what has been going on.
National Living Wage
It has been confirmed that from 1st April 2024 National Living Wage will be going up to £11.44 per hour which is an impressive 9.8% increase. The National Living Wage was previously for 23 years and over, and it has now changed to 21 years and over.
Other new rates include:
18-21: £8.60 per hour (previously £7.49)
16-17: £6.40 per hour (previously £5.28)
The new rates will mean a pay rise for over 2 million workers across the UK, but it may cause financial challenges for businesses owners, so we would recommend you prepare now by budgeting for the changes that you may need to make to salaries and contracts in 2024.
New Flexible Working Bill
The new Flexible Working Bill (also known as The Employment Relations Bill) achieved Royal Assent earlier this year. Under the new legislation, employees will be able to request changes to their working hours, times, or location from day one of employment (employees previously needed 26 weeks’ continuous service before making a request).
The new bill means employees will now have much greater flexibility over where and when they work with the following new protections being made once legislation comes into force:
An employee will no longer need to explain what effect, if any, the change applied for would have on the employer.
Employees can make two flexible working requests per twelve months (currently only one request is permitted).
Employers will be required to consult with the employee before being allowed to refuse an application.
The deadline for employers to decide on the application will change from three months to two.
Carer's Leave Act
On the 6th of April 2024 the Carer’s Leave Act will come into play and will make provision for employees to take one week’s unpaid leave each year for the purpose of caring for a dependent with a long-term care need from day one of employment. Leave will be able to be taken in half or full days, up to and including taking a block of a whole week of leave at once. Employees can take Carer’s Leave from day one of employment.
Neonatal Leave Act
This act will allow employees additional time off on top of maternity and paternity leave if a child is in a neonatal situation. Twelve weeks maximum can be added to standard maternity or paternity leave from April 2025 and this will be paid at the same rate as Statutory Maternity Pay. Employees can take Neonatal Leave from day one of employment and can access statutory pay when they have worked for their employer for 26 weeks.
Additional Protection from Redundancy during Pregnancy
The Protection from Redundancy Act will introduce regulations to extend protection to employees during their pregnancy and after they return to work from maternity leave. This is expected to come into act from April 2024.
Zero Hours Workers Rights
Changes are expected to come into place for Zero Hours workers who will have a legal right to request a more predictable working pattern, which can only be refused on certain grounds.
All workers including irregular hours workers and term time only, get 5.6 week annual leave even though they don’t work all year. Employers can use rolled up holiday pay on 12.07% of hours worked at a pro rata reduction.
From 2024 a worker can make an official complaint to the equality and human rights commission at any point, that a company hasn’t taken steps to prevent sexual harassment even where no complaint was made directly to them first.
Allocation of Tips
Due to come into place in April 2024, this bill will make it unlawful to withhold tips from staff and will ensure they are distributed without deductions.
This new law allows businesses with fewer than 50 employees doing TUPE transfers to consult employees directly if there is no existing representative in place – there are no specific dates for this yet.
This refers to removing additional record keeping requirements relating to working hours that required almost all working hours to be monitored – we don’t have a date for this yet.
Other areas where we are expecting to receive updates include:
Minimum service level for strikes.
Statutory maternity/paternity/shared parental/adoption/parental bereavement pay rates due to rise.
Pension auto enrolment thresholds.
As always, we will update you via our newsletter and social media as and when we get more information and if you would like to discuss any of the topics featured in this article then please don't hesitate to get in touch via the button below.