Employment Law Update: April 2024 Changes

Following the upcoming Easter break this weekend, we anticipate many employment law changes coming into full force and effect; primarily as of the 1st April 2024 and on the 6th April 2024.

Please see below our summarised overview of changes:

Working Time Regulations

The position as set out in the judgment of the Harper Trust -v- Brazel case as to holiday pay calculations will no longer apply, meaning that the calculation for irregular worker’s holiday pay will revert back to the position prior to that judgement; the 12.07% pro-rata calculation.

This means that part-year workers will no longer benefit from the more advantageous calculation of holiday entitlement, as established in that judgement, when compared to part-time workers who complete the same total amount of working time throughout the year.

Additionally, employers can choose to utilise rolled-up holiday for irregular hours’ holiday pay calculations. This allows holiday pay to be paid equally throughout the year as opposed to being paid at the time that the leave is taken.

Flexible Working Requests

This has been a hot-topic since the pandemic and widely anticipated by working families, employees with disabilities, and those who seek the benefit of a more flexible working pattern. The key changes applicable from 6 April 2024:

  • Employees can make up to 2 requests per year.
  • Employers have only 2 months to respond to the written request.
  • It is the employer’s responsibility to consider the effect of the request on the business – not the employee.
  • The employer must hold a meeting to consult with the employee about their request, and they have a right to be accompanied.
  • It is now a day-1 right. Employees are no longer required to acquire 26 weeks’ service to become eligible.

Employees can bring claims connected to flexible working requests which carries an award of up to 8 weeks gross pay.

Protection from Redundancy – Extension of Protection

Employees will now have an “Additional Protected Period” under the new rules. This acts as an extension of the existing priority status for those within the “protected period” in respect of redundancy.

This protection applies from the employee’s notification of pregnancy, until the start of maternity leave.

Thereafter, maternity leave is covered for a total period of 18 months post-birth, adoption leave is covered for a period of 18 months post-placement and shared parental leave is covered for a period of 18 months post-birth (subject to a minimum of 6 weeks ShPL being taken).

Carers’ Leave Act

Carers will be eligible for 1 week of unpaid leave per year to provide or arrange care for a dependent who has a long-term care need.

Carers are required to demonstrate that the dependant fits this criteria in order to qualify for this leave.

Employers cannot decline requests where the specific criteria is met, but they can choose to postpone the leave where necessary, for up to 1 month.

Paternity Leave Amendments

The 2-week paternity leave entitlement can now be taken in two separate 1-week blocks and can be used at any point within the 52 weeks post-birth. This is a huge change from the prior requirement to use this within 56 days.

Further, the employee must only give 28 days’ notice, they are no longer required to give their notification 15 weeks before the Expected Week of Childbirth.

Rates and Awards

Employers must take note of the increases to statutory pay rates for the new financial year, including Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay etc. and ensure that their payroll is updated accordingly.

The National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage is also increasing to the below:

  • The 21–22-year-old rate will be obsolete and the 23+/National Living Wage rate will apply. Therefore, for those over the age of 21, they will receive £11.44.
  • For 18-20-year-olds the rate will be £8.60.
  • For 16-17-year-olds and apprentices the rate will be £6.40.
  • The accommodation off-set limit is now £9.99.

Vento Bands

he increased Employment Tribunal Vento Bands, effective from 6 April 2024 for Injury to Feelings and Psychiatric Injury awards, have now been announced:

  • Lower band £1,200 – £11,700 for less serious cases
  • Middle band £11,700 – £35,200 for cases not meriting an award in the upper band
  • Upper band £35,200 – £58,700 for the most serious cases

The most exceptional cases can see awards granted by the Employment Tribunal which exceed an amount within the Upper band.

This includes injury to feelings awards for discrimination cases, as they are not subject to any statutory cap, such as awards for unfair dismissal.

Unfair Dismissal Awards

The Basic Award limit will increase to £21,000.

The Compensatory Award limit will increase to £115,115 or 52 weeks’ gross pay, whichever is lower.

If you would like to discuss any of the upcoming changes detailed in this article, please contact Phoebe Gogarty pgg@swinburnemaddison.co.uk), or call 0191 743 9267. 

This article is for general information only.  It does not and is not intended to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published and we would always recommend that you seek specific advice on any particular legal issue.

Written by Swinburne Maddison

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