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UK EMPLOYMENT LAW CHANGES – What do UK employers need to know?

Although this does not affect Isle of Man based companies, we work with many companies who have businesses in the United Kingdom which this will directly affect. In 2024, there will be several changes in employment law which will help make the workplace fairer for employees. All UK employers should be aware of these as they will have an impact on the running of businesses as well as policies and procedures which they have in place. These changes cover several areas which are outlined below.

Changes based around families include amendments to the following;

  • The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023
  • Carer’s Leave Act 2023
  • The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023

What are the changes?

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

From the 6th April 2024 there will be changes and this expands the current laws protecting pregnant employees or those on, or returning from, maternity/adoption/shared parental leave who are facing redundancy.

As it stands employees on maternity/adoption/shared parental leave have enhanced protections in redundancy situations, including the right to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy over other employees at risk, if one is available.

The Act now means that this protection includes pregnant employees, from the moment they notify their employer of their pregnancy, through to 18 months after childbirth.

Carer’s Leave Act 2023

Also coming into force on 6 April 2024, the changes to the Carer’s leave act will grant one week of unpaid leave (annually) for any employees who care for dependants with long term needs. This will be available to all employees from day one of employment. 

“Long term needs” is defined as:

  • Anyone with a condition that meets the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010;
  • Illness or injury (physical or mental) that requires or is likely to require care for more than three months, or;
  • Old age.

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023

Enacted in 2023, the Neonatal Care (leave and pay) Act is expected to come into force in April 2025. The Act will grant parents of new born babies who are hospitalised in their first 28 days of life for 7 days or more, the right to take neonatal leave and pay for up to 12 weeks.

This new legislation ensures that parents are able to spend more time with their babies who are having crucial care, without the worry of taking unpaid leave or returning to work. Parents who take neonatal leave and pay are also entitled to return to the same job after their period of absence.

Other workplace changes include;

  • The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023
  • Flexible and Predictable Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023
  • The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023
  • National minimum wage

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023

As of October 2024, this piece of employment law will change the Equality Act 2010 to introduce a duty on employers to take “reasonable steps” to prevent the sexual harassment of their employees. Employers will need to have a new, proactive duty to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. This legislation aims to put increased responsibility on employers to make their workplaces safer for all staff. The legislation will be supplemented by a new statutory code of practice which is being produced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Where sexual harassment cases reach the employment tribunal, tribunals will have the power to uplift compensation by up to 25% if an employer is found to have breached this new duty, i.e. where it is considered that the employer failed to take “reasonable steps”.

This is definitely something that employers should be aware of and ensure they make changes in their workplace practice in order to avoid any potential tribunal cases.

Flexible and predictable Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023

As of 6th April 2024, employees will no longer need to wait 26 weeks when starting work for a company before asking for flexible working. This new act means that from day one of employment an employee can request flexible working arrangements. this act means that employees will have the right to request flexible working from day one of employment. 

From April 6th, employees will also be able to make up to two requests for flexible working, instead of one (in any 12-month period). Employees will no longer have to explain the effect of the change requested, as they do currently, and employers will have to make a decision on a request within two months (rather than three).

The changes are aimed at making flexible working more accessible for employees, though the reasons why an employer can lawfully refuse a request remain unchanged.

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023

In order to enhance protection for workers this Act introduces a right for workers (including agency and those on zero hours contract) to request a predictable working pattern. If the worker’s existing working pattern lacks certainty in respect of the hours they work or the times they work, or if it is a fixed-term contract for less than 12 months, they will be able to make a formal application to change their working pattern to make it more predictable. Employers will have to notify the employee of their decision within one month of the request, and refusal is permitted provided it is on one of the prescribed grounds, which mirror the grounds for refusing a flexible working request This is likely to come in to effect around September 2024.

National Minimum Wage

National minimum wage rises every year but in April 2024, there will be a few changes other than the standard change.

Currently, workers aged 23 and over receive the highest rate of pay for national minimum wage. There’s a lower rate for workers who are 21 and 22 but this band is going to disappear – pushing 21 and 22 year olds into the highest band bracket.

The new rates will be;

  • For those over compulsory school age but not yet 18 – £6.40 per hour (up from £5.28).
  • For apprentices aged 19 and under (or 19 and over and in their first year of their apprenticeship) – £6.40 per hour (up from £5.28)
  • For those aged 18 to 20 – £8.60 per hour (up from £7.49)
  • National living wage (anyone aged 21 and over) – £11.44 per hour (from £10.42)

There’s a lot of changes to take in and put into place. If you need any help or advice with these changes and how they can be implemented and embedded into your company, contact us on 07624 429648 or email julia@zeal.im

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