Newsletter: January 2024

Welcome to the January edition of the AdviserPlus newsletter.

As we start on what promises to be a bumper year in employment legislation and new employee rights, this month’s newsletter will take a closer look at the key employment legislation that is coming into force this April and explore what these key pieces of legislation mean for employers and employees. The legislation includes the Flexible Working Act 2023, the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023, the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 and the Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024.

Other forthcoming changes to be aware of for April include; the new rates for statutory leave and pay, national living and minimum wages and the forthcoming changes to holiday rules.

Flexible Working

From 6 April 2024 the right to request flexible working will no longer only be eligible for employees with at least 26 weeks service, instead it will become a ‘day one’ right. Employees will be able to make two requests (instead of one) in any 12-month period and employers will have a reduced period of time in which to respond to the request as this will change from within three months to two. The new legislation will also remove the current requirement for employees to set out how the effects of their flexible working request might be dealt with by the employer.

ACAS will be updating their statutory Code of Practice to support managers with strengthened good practice particularly around meetings to discuss flexible working requests.

Remember it still remains a ‘right to request’ flexible working and not a ‘right to have’ which will enable employers to still decline requests they are unable to accommodate providing the reason falls within one of the eight fair reasons for refusal. However, employers do need to focus on the range of positive outcomes to both business and individuals that come out of employees being able to work flexibly and should approach requests with open minded consideration and have meaningful dialogue with their employees.

Parents and carers to be given new protections from Redundancy

The Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act coming into force on 6 April 2024 will mean that pregnant women and new parents will see an extension of existing redundancy protections which will cover pregnancy from the moment it is first disclosed and to 18 months after birth. Current legislation means that parents are only protected from redundancy whilst on maternity leave, adoption leave and shared parental leave. The protection will enable new parents the right to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy, if one is available before being made redundant. It does not mean new parents cannot be made redundant.

A couple of points to highlight in this new legislation is that for an employee who has suffered a miscarriage the protection ends two weeks after the end of the pregnancy, for pregnancies ending before 24 weeks. Pregnancies ending after 24 weeks the employee would be entitled to full statutory maternity leave. For employees taking shared parental leave the protection begins at the start of the shared parental leave and if less than six weeks of SPL is taken, the protection ends at the end of the SPL, if more than six continuous weeks of SPL is taken, the protection will end 18 months from the child’s date of birth.


On the basis of these new or additional protections, employers who are considering or planning restructures in 2024 will need to ensure they have thought through the implications of the new protections as it will significantly increase the number of employees with priority status. The new protection will apply to pregnancies which have been notified to their employer on or after 6 April 24 and for any employee whose maternity/adoption leave is ending on or after 6 April 2024.

If employers find themselves in a situation where they have more employees with priority status than there are suitable alternative vacancies the regulations only state, the employee’s entitlement to be offered the suitable alternative vacancy where there is one available. In these circumstances, it is likely that employers would need to undertake further selection processes between the employees who have the priority status.

The penalty for getting this wrong could mean the employee has the ability to claim automatic unfair dismissal, which would mean a compensatory award that is not capped and does not require two years’ qualifying service. If an employee who is pregnant or on maternity leave during this period and believes they have been treated unfairly there is also the risk of discrimination claims.

New Carer’s Leave legislation

From 6 April 2024 the Carers’ Leave Act will come into force. This means that carers could take up to 5 days of unpaid carers leave in a rolling period of 12 months for employees who are providing or arranging care. This will be a statutory day-one right.

To take the leave the person being cared for must have a long-term care need i.e. they have a long-term illness or injury that requires care for 3 months or more, a disability as defined in the Equality Act 2010 or require care connected to their old age. The leave could be taken as a block of 5 days or in individual half or full days and can be self-certified in the same way as a person self-certifying their absence within the first 7 days would do.

Employees taking this leave to look after a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, someone living in the same household or a person who reasonably relies on the employee for care will have the same protection as they do for other family related leave.

Should an employer not be able to accommodate a request due to operational requirements, then they must allow the leave to be taken within one month of the start-date the leave was originally requested for. This should be done in consultation with the employee.

Employers will need to consider either introducing a new policy or updating and amending policies such as the ‘time-off’ policies and/or handbooks to reflect the new protections.

Changes to Paternity Leave Rights

Any baby who is due on or after 6 April or child due to be placed with an adopter on or after 6 April eligible parents will be able to take the paternity leave in two separate one-week blocks as opposed to the current ability to take either one- or two-week consecutive weeks. The other change is that parents will have longer to choose when they want to take the leave, as they will have 52 weeks after the birth or adoption rather than the current 56 days. Whilst the notice of entitlement requirements have not changed, new parents will only need to give 28 days’ notice of the intention to actually take each period of paternity leave. Currently the requirement is to provide notice at least 15 weeks before the due date.

Statutory rates of pay

Statutory rates of pay for Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Adoption Pay, Statutory Shared Parental Pay, Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay will increase from £172.48 to £184.03 per week.

The rate of Statutory Sick Pay will also increase from £109.40 to £116.75 per week.

The National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates will rise as follows.

  • The National Living Wage (for people aged 21 or older) will increase from £10.42 to £11.44 per hour.
  • The National Minimum Wage for workers aged 18–20 will increase from £7.49 to £8.60 per hour.
  • The young workers rate for workers aged 16–17 will increase from £5.28 to £6.40 per hour.

The apprentice rate for apprentices under 19, or over 19 and in the first year of the apprenticeship, will increase from £5.28 to £6.40 per hour.

Changes to Holiday Rules

There are a number of changes to the Working Time Regulations which have been introduced on 1 January this year which affect holiday pay and entitlements. More detailed information can be found on the Government website here. Employers do need to familiarise themselves with the changes and they will likely need to amend employment contracts and annual leave policies to reflect the new holiday accrual rules. However, remember any changes to the employment contract will need the employee’s agreement.

Changes include both part-year employees and irregular hours workers accruing annual leave entitlement on the last day of each pay period at the rate of 12.07% of the number of hours worked during that pay period, subject to a maximum of 28 days per year. The following reforms will only apply to leave years beginning on or after 1 April 2024:

  • The introduction of the method to calculate statutory holiday entitlement for irregular hours and part-year workers.
  • The introduction of the method to work out how much leave an irregular hour or part-year worker has accrued when they take maternity or family related leave or are off sick.
  • The introduction of rolled-up holiday pay as an alternative method to calculate holiday pay for irregular hours workers and part-year workers.

Some dates for your diaries

  • 31 March 2024 – From the 1 January 2024, employees can no longer accrue Covid carry over leave. Any leave carried over due to it being unreasonable to take it due to the effects of coronavirus must be taken on or before 31st March 2024.
  • 1 February 2024 – Time to Talk Day, get your employees together and encourage open conversations around mental health and look to reduce the stigma around mental health in the workplace.
  • 11th – 17 February 2024 – Random Acts of Kindness Week, encourage your employees to take the time to recognise and appreciate the little acts of kindness that make our lives whole and can have a massive impact.
  • 1 March 2024 – National Employee Appreciation Day, why not grab the opportunity to show your employees your appreciation for the incredible work and commitment they show each day and review and promote your employee recognition tools.
  • 8 March 2024 – International Women’s Day, a day to mark and celebrate women’s achievements in the workplace and beyond and to recognise and challenge discrimination and inequality.

Note: The above guidance was correct at the time of writing this article on 19/01/24. This does not constitute legal advice and is for information purposes only.
If you have any questions regarding the content of this newsletter or would like more information to support your business with the changes, please get in touch.

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