Employment Law Changes in 2024

There are some changes which are significant and will have a larger impact on some of our clients more than others, but we feel it is important to ensure that all of our clients have the time to consider how they will implement these upcoming changes.
ET Case Reserved Judgement Funeral Director HR Boss Sacked For Sexual Harassment

Employment Law Changes in 2024

There are some changes which are significant and will have a larger impact on some of our clients more than others, but we feel it is important to ensure that all of our clients have the time to consider how they will implement these upcoming changes.


Reforming the right to request flexible working.

What is changing?

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 provides for changes to some of the rules on statutory flexible working requests.


What are the main features?

  • There is no longer a need for 26 weeks continuous service but a day-one right to request flexible working.
  • Allow employees to make two statutory flexible working requests every 12 months (the current limit is one).
  • Reduce the time limit for employers to deal with statutory flexible working requests from three to two months (although this can be extended by agreement with the employee).
  • Require employers to consult with an employee before refusing a request.
  • Remove the need for employees to explain the effect of the proposed change or how that could be dealt with when making a request.

What will this mean for employers?

It is more important than ever that employers get their approach to flexible working right, given the sea change in attitudes towards flexible working (with the proliferation of the hybrid working model) and the competitive advantage that employers that offer flexible working can get in the labour market.

In advance of the legislation taking effect, employers should:

  • Review their flexible working policies to ensure that they reflect the new requirements;
  • Train managers on how to handle flexible working requests in light of the new requirements; and
  • Plan communications to staff to reflect the changes.


These regulations are due to come into force on 6th April 2024.

We will review flexible working policies and can also run training sessions on flexible working (the pitfalls and things to be aware of).


Carer’s leave

What is changing?

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 provides employees who have caring responsibilities for dependants with a long-term care need with a right to one week’s unpaid leave per year.


What are the main features?

  • Introduce one week’s unpaid leave each year for employees who are carers, for the purpose of caring for a dependant, or arranging care for a dependant, with long-term mental or physical health needs.
  • Employees using the leave must take a minimum of half a working day at a time; a working day meaning the employee’s usual working pattern. There is no need for the leave to be used on consecutive days either. Employees could therefore take five separate days over a 12-month rolling period.
  • Employees are required to provide notice, although this does not need to be in writing. The notice must include the fact that the employee is entitled to take carer’s leave and the day(s) or part of a day that will be taken.
  • Employees will be required to give notice which is either twice the length of time being requested, or three days, whichever is the longest. It is open to employers to waive the notice requirement provided the employee is otherwise eligible to take carer’s leave.

What will this mean for employers?

  • Employers should be prepared to incorporate carer’s leave into their family-friendly policies and procedures. The other key aspects of the new right are that:
  • Carer’s leave will be a “day one” right, meaning that staff will not require a minimum period of service;
  • Entitlement will depend on the relationship between the carer and the person being cared for, with a focus on dependants with a long-term care need or terminal illness;
  • Eligible employees will be able to take five days’ carer’s leave per year, as individual or half days; and
  • Employers will be able to ask employees to self-certify that they are eligible, with no evidential requirements (for example details of the dependant’s condition or caring activities being undertaken).


Does an employer have to agree?

Employers are not able to deny an employee’s request for carer’s leave but can postpone it if they reasonably consider that the operation of the business would be unduly disrupted if the leave was approved. If the employer does postpone the leave, they must provide a written counter-notice within seven days of the request, explaining the reason for the postponement and the revised dates the leave can be taken on. The employee must be allowed to take the requested leave within a month of their original request.


The right to carer’s leave will take effect from 6th April 2024.

Practical implications for employers

  • Updating or creating policies to inform employees of the new right and the logistics of requesting and taking it.
  • Creating a “self-certification” form for employees to complete, declaring that they meet the legal definition of a carer and will be using the leave in that capacity.
  • Introducing a system of record-keeping to track the number of days taken. Employers should also use this data to consider what further support they could provide for employees (for example, allowing additional unpaid time off if staff are using high levels of annual leave to provide intermittent care or help to dependants).
  • Informing people managers of the new right, the fact that any dismissal connected to using the leave will be automatically unfair, and the potential sensitivities around this topic. Some employees may not wish their colleagues to be aware they are taking time off for caring responsibilities, if they have not previously discussed this at work, or may not want to inform their manager of their need to take carer’s leave.


Neonatal care leave

What is changing?

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 will provide parents whose babies need neonatal care after birth with up to 12 weeks’ neonatal care leave. The leave will be paid if the parent meets minimum service and pay requirements.

What are the main features?

  • To provide new parents whose baby requires neonatal care for at least seven continuous days, and which starts within 28 days of birth with the right to take up to 12 weeks’ leave in addition to maternity or paternity leave.
  • This will be a “day one” right, although pay will be subject to minimum service and pay requirements.

What will this mean for employers?

Employers should be prepared to incorporate this new type of leave into their family-friendly policies and procedures. The other key aspects of the proposed new right are that:

  • It will be a “day one” right;
  • It is expected to be used mainly to assist new parents whose baby requires neonatal care in hospital;
  • It will be available to parents of babies who are admitted up to the age of 28 days, where the baby has a continuous stay in hospital of at least seven full days; and
  • Statutory neonatal pay, which would be set at the same rate as other family-friendly statutory payments, would have a qualifying period of 26 weeks of continuous service.

Notice and evidence requirements are expected to be “light touch” to take account of the sensitivity of the situation.


The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 received Royal Assent on 24 May 2023. The details of the new right to neonatal care leave will be set out in regulations in due course. The Government has indicated that it plans to introduce neonatal leave in April 2025.


Changes to statutory paternity leave

What is changing?

Currently, eligible employees (fathers and partners) can take either one week or two consecutive weeks of paid paternity leave in the 56 days after their child’s birth or placement for adoption.

The new draft Regulations will amend the current rules by:

  • Extending the period within which paternity leave can be taken so that eligible employees will be able to take their paternity leave at any point in the first year after their child’s birth or placement for adoption;
  • Providing some flexibility as to how paternity leave can be taken, so that eligible employees will be able to take their leave as two separate one-week blocks if they wish (rather than in a single block of one or two weeks); and
  • Reducing to 28 days the notice that eligible employees will have to give of their intention to take paternity leave (compared with the current law which requires notice of the intention to take paternity leave to be given at least 15 weeks before the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC)). The new provisions will include situations where an employee wishes to vary any leave dates, they have notified to their employer previously. This recognises that family circumstances can change on relatively short notice. (For domestic adoption cases, the current requirement to provide notice within seven days of the adoption match being notified to them will remain unchanged).


It is anticipated that the new Regulations will come into force on 8 March 2024 and that the changes will apply to birth parents where the EWC begins after 6 April 2024. For adoptive parents, the changes will apply where the expected date of placement for adoption, or the expected date of entry into Great Britain for adoption, is on or after 6 April 2024.


Pregnancy and maternity leave – extending redundancy protection.

What is changing?

Employees on maternity leave already have the right to be offered any suitable alternative vacancy in a redundancy situation. The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 provides for greater protection against redundancy during pregnancy and for six months after return to work from maternity leave as well as certain other family-related leave.

What are the main features?

  • Ensure that the redundancy protection period (the right for pregnant women and new mothers on maternity leave to be offered suitable alternative employment in a redundancy situation) applies from the point that an employee informs their employer that they are pregnant (whether this is done orally or in writing).
  • Extend the redundancy protection period until 18 months after the birth of the child for employees returning from maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave.


What will this mean for employers?

Employers will need to review their redundancy policies and procedures to ensure that they cover the right for those on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave to be offered any suitable alternative vacancy on redundancy.

HR professionals and line managers implementing a redundancy process will also need to ensure that they take into account the extended redundancy protection period where any employees at risk of redundancy are pregnant or have recently returned to work from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

The changes in relation to maternity leave will double the current period of redundancy protection from one year to around two years, assuming the pregnant employee advises the employer of their pregnancy at about the 12-week point and takes one year’s maternity leave. This could substantially increase the number of employees who must be given priority for any suitable alternative vacancy on redundancy, particularly in workplaces where the majority of employees are women.


The additional protection set out in the Regulations applies:

  • For pregnant employees, where they inform their employer of their pregnancy on or after 6 April 2024;
  • For employees returning from maternity leave or adoption leave, where they return on or after 6 April 2024;
  • For employees returning from shared parental leave, where they take a period of at least six consecutive weeks of shared parental leave that commences on or after 6 April 2024.


Workers Protection Act 2024

Strengthening workplace sexual harassment laws

What is changing?

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill provides for a positive duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of their employees in the course of their employment.

What are the main proposals?

  • Introduce a mandatory duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • Introduce a statutory code of practice on sexual harassment at work.


What would this mean for employers?

Employers are already liable for harassment carried out by their employees at work unless they have taken “all reasonable steps” to prevent the harassment. However, a positive duty on employers to take steps to prevent harassment should prompt employers to review their policies and procedures to ensure that:

  • The equality, diversity and inclusion policies that they have in place will meet the new requirements;
  • Those policies are implemented in practice;
  • Their workforce is made aware of the policies;
  • Employees and line managers are provided with equality, diversity and inclusion training;
  • There is a system in place for dealing effectively with employee complaints; and
  • Their policies are reviewed as appropriate.


HR professionals should also look out for a new statutory code of practice on sexual harassment. The Equality and Human Rights Commission is developing the new code and is expected to consult on a draft version before it is introduced.

Following amendments to the Bill, its provisions no longer seek to introduce employer liability for third-party harassment of employees.


The Government is backing the Bill and it is in its final stages of passing through Parliament, prior to Royal Assent. It will not come into force until one year after the Act is passed, which is expected to happen in 2024.


Duty on employers to give all tips to workers without deductions.

The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023 introduces a requirement for employers to give all tips, gratuities and service charges to workers without any deductions. It also obliges employers to ensure that tips are distributed fairly between workers. Organisations will need to abide by a Code of Practice setting out principles of fairness and transparency.

The measures are expected to come into force in July 2024, following a consultation and secondary legislation.


Right to request more predictable terms and conditions of work

Implementation date: To be confirmed.

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 gives workers, including agency workers and zero-hours workers, the right to request more predictable terms and conditions, including the right to request a predictable working pattern.

The provisions of the Act are subject to secondary legislation (regulations) being introduced and brought into force. The Government has said that it expects the measures to come into force approximately one year after Royal Assent (which happened on 18 September 2023), to give employers time to prepare for the changes. It is expected to come into force November 2024.


Changes to Visa’s

Most of these changes will be introduced in Spring 2024.


Skilled Worker visa minimum salary increase:

The salary threshold for an application will rise by nearly 50% from £26,200 to £38,700. Health and care workers, and professions like teachers with national pay scales, will be exempt and will still qualify for the visa with a lower salary. This hike in minimum pay – to more than twice the minimum wage and to a higher level than the median UK salary – will have a big impact on all employers.


Shortage Occupation List (SOL):

The 20% discount applied to the minimum salary for visa applicants applying for shortage occupation roles will be scrapped. The SOL will be replaced with a new Immigration Salary List, which will retain a general salary threshold discount.

The types of jobs on the list will also be reviewed and reduced by the Migration Advisory Committee, so employers in sectors like technology, and engineering should expect roles to disappear from the list. Construction roles – like bricklayers, carpenters, and roofers – were only added to the SOL earlier this year, so we’ll need to wait for more detail to see how that sector is impacted.


Family visas:

The minimum salary threshold for a family visa will also be raised from £18,600 to £38,700 to “ensure [British and settled] people only bring dependants whom they can support financially”. That will have a huge impact on couples wanting to move to the UK as it will block many of them from qualifying. Family Visas are only open to British or Irish citizens, people with settled or pre-settled status or refugees with protected status.


Student visas:

The government will ask the Migration Advisory Committee to review the Graduate visa route – a post-study work visa – “to ensure it works in the best interests of the UK and to ensure steps are being taken to prevent abuse. Currently, graduate Visas allow people to stay in the UK for 2 years after finishing a course.


Health and care visas:

Overseas care workers will not be able to bring any family members with them on dependant visas. Care firms that want to sponsor visas will also need to be regulated by the Care Quality Commission.

Healthcare surcharges and visa application fees rise

The annual fee visa holders must pay to use the NHS – known as the immigration health surcharge – will rise by 66%, from £624 to £1,035.

The increase will come in no earlier than 16 January 2024.

This change was announced in July when the government also said visa application fees would go up.

On 4 October, work and visit visa fees went up by 15%, family visas, settlement and citizenship by 20%, and student visas by 35%.

The details of the new rules will be set out in a Statement of Changes that will be published in due course. There are many unresolved issues to be addressed, like transition arrangements for those already in the UK before the rules change, and whether there will continue to be concessions for new entrants to the labour market.

In the short term, employers that are considering sponsorship for UK roles or vacancies at salaries below £38,700 should try to accelerate recruitment and sponsored visa applications before next Spring to take advantage of current thresholds. We also recommend that employers review the visa status of any UK-based colleagues who are not currently on a sponsored visa, but who will need sponsorship in the future (because their current visa can’t be extended). For example, that will apply to those working on Student, Graduate, Youth Mobility, High Potential Individual or even capped intra-company transfer visas.

As outlined above some significant changes are coming through in relation to UK Employment Law and as ever, we are here to support you when you look to implement the changes. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the team if you wish to set up a call with one of our advisors to talk through any of the points raised above before any formal review of policies taking place.


Should you wish to discuss this in more detail, please contact us via telephone or email or visit our website here 

01256 384700


Black Mountain Group

Leave a Comment

Sign up for our Newsletter

Enter your email in the box above to add yourself to our mailing list, giving you access to our newsletters and updates on globals legislation changes.

Request a Proposal

Complete the form and we will get back to you within 24 hours!