Summarising the employment law changes in 2024 HR need to know…
- 2024 will see several new employment laws introduced in the UK which HR professionals must be conscious of.
- New employment laws that are likely coming into effect during 2024 include The Carer’s Leave act, The Neonatal Care (leave and pay) Act and changes to flexible working laws.
- In addition, there are also several potential new laws which could be introduced: including new laws around paternity leave, GDPR and laws on criminal record disclosures.
With 2024 only weeks away, it’s the perfect time for HR professionals to get clued up on upcoming changes to employment laws… and with good reason!
2024 is shaping up to be another transformative year for HR. Alongside several expected employment law changes, there are a number of potential law amendments are looming on the horizon which could have dramatic effects on British workplaces.
So, without further ado, let’s look at the expected employment law changes you should prepare for in 2024…
The expected employment law changes coming in 2024
The Carer’s Leave Act
Perhaps one of the most important employment law changes in 2024 will be the long-awaited Carer’s Leave Act. This legislation introduces a versatile new entitlement: one week of unpaid leave annually for employees caring for a dependent with long-term needs.
The new act will make it a right from day one, accessible to eligible employees without the need for documentation beyond self-certification. Plus, it also aims to streamline procedures for both businesses and their employees.
The leave can cover various care responsibilities, from accompanying someone to medical appointments to aiding with financial affairs. While there’s no specific limitation on its usage, standard criteria for defining ‘dependants’ will be in place. You can read more about the Act via the Government’s legislation page here.
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act
This new legislation grants parents of newborns hospitalised within the first 28 days of life entitlement to Neonatal Leave and Pay if the baby stays continuously in hospital for 7 or more days. This leave is also available from the first day of employment.
The maximum duration for this leave is 12 weeks, to be taken as a single block following the conclusion of maternity or paternity leave. It’s worth noting, though, that it’s not yet been confirmed by the UK Government how this new right aligns with shared parental leave. Also, eligibility for statutory neonatal pay necessitates 26 weeks of service and earnings surpassing the lower earnings limit (currently £123 per week).
While formal notice is required, informal notice can suffice if the leave is taken shortly after hospital admission. But, a week’s notice is preferred if the leave begins at a stage when the baby hasn’t been recently admitted.
This new law was widely expected to be enacted in 2025. However, it’s looking increasingly likely it will come into force in 2024, and HR teams should be prepared if it does. You can read more about it here.
The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act
This Act’s implementation expands the current safeguards for employees on maternity leave in the context of redundancy. At present, if a company is looking to make redundancies, employers must offer suitable alternative vacancies to those on maternity leave if available. This safeguard will extend to individuals on adoption/shared parental leave once this law becomes effective.
In addition, that protection starts from the moment the employee notifies the employer of their pregnancy – be that verbally or in writing – and extends for 18 months after childbirth.
This is another change in law that wasn’t expected until 2025, but is widely expected to be introduced in 2024. You can read more about it here.
Changes to Flexi-Working Laws 2024
Flexible working is now a staple of working life in the UK. It’s widespread adoption my many businesses led to workers demanding the right to request flexible working from day one. In response, the UK government proposed a raft of new regulations aimed at giving workers more say over their working hours and conditions. These are now widely expected to be introduced in 2024.
Changes to flexi-working laws at-a-glance
- People will have the right to request flexible working from the first day of their employment
- Employers must consult with employees who make the request and if necessary, discuss potential alternatives arrangements. However, the current ‘8 reasons to refuse a flexible working request’ will remain in place
- Employers must make a decision on flexible working requests within 2 months of the request being made
- People can make two statutory requests for flexible working in any 12-month period
- People no longer have to explain how a change in flexible working would affect their employer, nor do they have to explain how they’ll deal with that change.
You can learn more about changes to Flexi-Working laws here.
Why HR need to prepare for the upcoming employment law changes
Although there are no set-dates for these new laws to come into effect, it’s crucial for HR teams to prepare their businesses accordingly. These changes will shake up established laws on leave and flexible working. So, it’s vital that HR teams communicate the information to employees regarding their forthcoming rights, and establish processes for compliance when these laws become enforceable.
Using an HR software solution with HR portals and shared workspaces is a great way to keep your employees informed. Your shared portals can be used to upload relevant documentation, include links to relevant third-party sites, post updates with notifications if required, and provide a question and answer forum for your employees.
Remember that employees meeting the eligibility or criteria for any of the new laws can file claims with the employment tribunal if their employer fails to inform them of the rights outlined in these new laws (should they be confirmed, of course). Similarly, if an employee encounters a disadvantage or dismissal due to availing leave provided by these new laws, they have grounds to raise claims.
What other employment laws could change in 2024?
You should also be aware of several further employment law changes that are on the horizon. And, although no dates have been set for their introduction, it’s definitely worth checking out what could be coming your way in the near future. Some of the more prominent employment law changes and amendments include:
- A new statutory code on “fire and re-hire” practices
- A duty requiring employers to take reasonable steps to eliminate harassment in the workplace to be introduced
- A new law prohibiting confidentiality clauses in contracts or settlement agreements from preventing disclosures to the police, regulated health and care or legal professionals to be introduced
- A new law to increase the break needed to end continuous employment from one week to four weeks to be introduced.
To learn more about these and other potential employment law changes, just head over to the CIPD HR-Inform website page here.
Kim Holdroyd has an MSc in HRM and is passionate about all things HR and people operations, specialising in the employee life cycle, company culture, and employee empowerment. Her career background has been spent with various industries, including technology start-ups, gaming software, and recruitment.