National minimum wage
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt, announced in the autumn statement that the national minimum wage will increase by almost 10 per cent following high inflation and the cost of living crisis. The change will see it rise from £10.42 to £11.44 per hour from 1 April. For the first time, the increase will be expanded to cover 21 and 22 year olds and the national minimum wage rates for younger workers will also rise by £1.11 an hour to £8.60 for 18 to 20 year olds.
Pay for those undertaking apprenticeships will also increase with an 18 year old apprentice seeing their minimum hourly pay increase from £5.28 to £6.40.
Currently employers have to give holiday pay at the time that their employees take their annual leave. The government is set to implement legislation permitting rolled-up holiday pay for certain workers. Rolled-up holiday pay is the practice of not paying holiday pay while an employee/worker is on holiday but instead, making an additional payment to employees or workers when they are working. The legislation intends that this payment will represent holiday pay due to them.
This approach has previously been deemed unlawful for all employees however for leave years starting on or after 1st April 2024, employers will now be able to consider using “rolled-up holiday pay” for those who have irregular hours, such as zero-hour workers and part year workers.
Changes to TUPE
Reforms will see changes to the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE), which protects employees and their benefits when their work transfers from one employer to another.
The new legislation looks to ease the pressure on small businesses. For transfers taking place on or after 1st July 2024, there will no longer be a requirement to elect employee representatives for the purpose of TUPE consultation where:
- There are fewer than 50 employees at the employer; or
- The transfer involves fewer than ten employees.
In either of the above situations, employers will be able to consult with their employees directly if there are no existing employee representatives in place. Where employee representatives, including trade unions are in place, employers will still be required to consult them.
Currently only employees with at least 26 weeks of continuous employment can request flexible working under the statutory scheme however, from 6th April 2024 this will change. The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 received Royal Assent in July 2023 and from 6th April 2024, the Act (and related secondary legislation) will:
- Give employees the right to make a flexible working request from day one.
- Allow employees to make two flexing working requests in each 12 month period instead of the current one.
- Require an employer to consult with an employee if it is considering rejecting a request.
- Reduce the period in which an employer must respond to a flexible working request from three months to two months.
- Remove the requirement for employees to specify how the employer might deal with the effects of the flexible working request.
A draft Code of Practice has been issued by ACAS on how to deal with flexible working requests from 6th April 2024. Employers should consider reviewing and updating their policies ahead of these changes.
The Carer’s Leave Act 2023
From 6th April 2024, the Carer’s Leave Act will introduce five days unpaid leave per year for employees who have a dependent with a long-term care need. The legislation defines a “dependent” as the employee’s spouse, civil partner, child, parent or a person who lives as the same house as the employee (other than a lodger or tenant) and who reasonably relies on the employee to provide or arrange care.
The employee will be protected from dismissal or any detriment as a result of having taken time off.This applies from the first day of employment and there is no requirement to provide evidence other than self-certification.The employee must give notice which is either twice as many days as the period of leave required or three days, whichever is greater.We would advise employers to review and update their policies to deal with this type of leave.
Redundancy Protection | Pregnancy
Currently employees on maternity leave have more protection against redundancy than other employees because an employer must consider suitable alternative roles for them before other employees. From April 2024 however, this protection is extended to pregnant workers from the moment they tell the employer about their pregnancy (either verbally or in writing) and up until 18 months after the birth of their child. Those returning from adoption or shared parental leave will also benefit from the same protection.
Duty to prevent sexual harassment
The new Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 places a legal duty on employers to take reasonable steps to help prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. It will also give employment tribunals the power to uplift sexual harassment compensation by up to 25% where an employer is found to have breached the new duty to prevent sexual harassment. The Act is likely to come into force around October 2024. Whilst employers should already be taking steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, employers should ensure that they take steps to put adequate procedures and staff training in place in light of the new statutory duties that will apply to them.
Rights to request a more predictable working pattern
Under the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023, certain workers with unstable or unpredictable working hours will have the legal right to ask for more predictable working patterns. This would include zero-hour workers, agency workers and those on fixed term contracts lasting less than a year.
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 are the same for refusing a flexible working request.This is likely to come into force around September 2024 however, ACAS will be producing a new Code of Practice to provide further guidance for employers in managing this new right.
Statutory Neonatal Care Leave
The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 will allow parents of babies who are admitted into hospital aged 28 days or less, the right to leave and pay, if the baby is in hospital for a continuous period of 7 days or more.
Employees will get a maximum of twelve weeks of neonatal leave and pay which must be taken within 68 weeks of birth.The leave will be available from day one of employment, although statutory neonatal pay will be subject to 26 weeks’ service and earnings above the lower earnings limit (currently £123 per week).
These rights will not come into force until April 2025, giving employers time to update their policies and procedures to take account of the new entitlements.
Law on tips and gratuities
The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023 will require employers to pass on 100% of tips to staff with no deductions (other than those required by tax law). The new rules are due to come into effect on 1st July 2024. The new legislation includes:
- Employers must pass on tips to workers without any deductions
- Employers should have a written policy on tips and record how they manage tips
- A draft statutory code of practice sets out how tips should be distributed in order to demonstrate fairness and transparency.
The legislation will apply to hospitality businesses including restaurants, bars and cafes. Tips must be allocated fairly between all workers, including those on zero-hour contracts.
The draft code of practice is being consulted on until 22nd February 2024 and there are likely to be updates before the new law is introduced in July 2024. Further guidance is likely to be published to help employers and their workers interpret the legislation.
We hope you have found this round-up of employment law helpful. Throughout the year we will keep our website updated with “news” of employment law changes. If you have any questions about employment law, including your obligations as an employer or your rights as an employee, please contact Lisa Aitken, employment lawyer at Moore & Tibbits on LisaA@moore-tibbits.co.uk or 07960469988
Lisa Aitken | Employment Solicitor