Eight Legal Employment Law and HR Consultants

Are you ready for April 2024?

After a quiet period in terms of new legislation, 2024 is bringing several important changes. Now is a good time to review your policies and procedures and make sure they are up to date and compliant.

Flexible Working

From 6 April 2024, it becomes a day one right for an employee to make a formal flexible working request (FWR), removing the existing 26 week qualifying period.

Other things to note:

  • Employees will be allowed to make two requests per year instead of one.
  • The employee no longer has to explain the impact on the organisation or how this can be mitigated.
  • The employer must respond within two months rather than the current three – remember this time frame includes any appeal which you allow.
  • There will be a requirement for employers to meet with and consult with the employee if they can’t agree request & to consider any possible alternatives – this is already good practice and what we would always advise.
  • The eight statutory reasons to refuse request remain unchanged.

ACAS have published a draft new statutory code of practice, which you can access here.

What does this mean for employers?

It is likely that employers will receive more formal FWR once these changes come into effect. Make sure your managers know and understand the new rules. Consider whether you can build more flexibility into what you are offering during recruitment.

Carer’s Leave

This also comes into effect on 6 April.

It provides for one week of unpaid leave per year for those with caring responsibilities and is also a day one right.

A week here means the employee’s normal working week eg someone who works three days a week is entitled to three days of Carer’s Leave every twelve months. The leave may be taken as a block or as non-consecutive days or half days.

The leave can be used to provide or arrange care for a ‘dependant’ who has:

  • a physical or mental illness or injury that means they’re expected to need care for more than 3 months
  • a disability, as defined by the Equality Act 2010
  • care needs because of their old age

A ‘dependant’ can be anyone who relies on the employee for care, not just a family member.Further details here.

Paternity Leave

The Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 increase the flexibility of when and how eligible parents can take Paternity Leave.

They apply to parents of children whose expected week of childbirth is after 6 April 2024, or parents of children whose expected date of placement for adoption or expected date of entry into Great Britain for adoption, is on or after 6 April 2024.

The main changes are:

  • The two weeks of paternity leave can now be taken as one block of two weeks or one or two separate weeks.
  • They may be taken at any time during the first year after the birth or adoption of the child, rather than the current 56 days.
  • The required notice to take leave has been reduced to 28 days in most instances.

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023

Currently in a redundancy situation, employees on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave have their right to be offered any suitable alternative vacancy prioritised over that of any other employees. This Act extends the period of protection:

  • Pregnant employee – from the point when the employer has been notified of the pregnancy.
  • Employee who takes maternity leave – 18 months from the child’s date of birth if the employer is notified of this before the end of maternity leave (or 18 months from the Expected Week of Childbirth if not notified)
  • Employee who takes adoption leave – from the start of the leave until 18 months from the date of placement or date of entry into Great Britain.
  • Employee who takes Shared Parental Leave – only applies if the employee hasn’t also taken maternity or adoption leave. From the start of SPL until the end of SPL if less than 6 weeks of leave is taken, or until 18 months from  the date of the birth if more than 6 weeks of leave is taken.
  • Miscarriage – if an employee suffers a miscarriage  before 24 weeks, protection is from the date of the miscarriage for a period of two weeks.

The extension of protection applies where the employer is informed of a pregnancy on or after 6 April 2024, and for periods of family leave ending on or after 6 April 2024.

Remember – this does not mean that employees in any of the above categories cannot be made redundant, just that they have priority for any alternative roles which might be available.

On the horizon…

The Workers (Predictable Terms And Conditions) Act 2023 is now expected to come into force later this year, possibly September

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill has also received Royal assent and expected to come into force in October 2024.

See https://eightlegal.com/new-legislation/ for other upcoming legislation.

Contact us to arrange an initial, free, confidential call if you need help or support.

Please Note – The Information In This Article Is For General Guidance Only, And Is Not A Substitute For Specific Legal Advice In Any Given Situation.

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