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Employment Law Changes from April 2024

Several important changes to UK employment laws came into effect on 6 April 2024 which provide employees with expanded rights around flexible working, paid and unpaid leave and protection from redundancy during parental leave.

These changes to existing employment laws come from several pieces of legislation passed within the last two years and apply to Scotland, England, and Wales, but not to Northern Ireland where employment law is devolved.

Key employment law changes to know

  • The statutory right to request flexible working is now a ‘day one” right meaning employees no longer need to have 26 weeks of continuous service to make a flexible working request.
  • Employees can now make two flexible working requests within a 12-month period opposed to one.
  • The decision period has been reduced from 3 months to 2 months, but both parties can agree to extend this, and employers are obliged to consult with an employee before rejecting a request.
  • Employees are no longer required to identify the impact the change would have on the business and how that might be dealt with.
  • Protection now begins on the day the employer is first notified of the employee’s pregnancy and ends 18 months after the date of the child’s birth.
  • These protections also now extend to 18 months after the date of adoption for parents taking adoption leave or 18 months after the child’s birth in cases where a parent is taking at least six weeks of shared parental leave.
  • Employees taking certain types of parental leave now have protection from redundancy for at least 18 months.
  • If their role is made redundant their employer must give them first refusal of any other vacancies.
  • Employees can take their two weeks leave entitlement as two separate one-week blocks, rather than having to take just one week in total or two consecutive weeks.
  • Employees can take paternity leave at any time within the following 52 weeks after the birth of the baby, rather than having to take it within 56 days following the birth of the baby.
  • Employees will only need to give 28 days’ notice of their intention to take paternity leave rather than 15 weeks before the Expected Week of Childbirth.
  • The statutory right to Carers Leave is a “day one” right and employees are protected from detriment and dismissal should they take or seek to take carer’s leave.
  • To be eligible you must want to provide care for a dependant with a long-term care need (physical or mental) that requires or is likely to require care for more than 3 months; has a disability (Equality Act 2010) or the dependent requires care for a reason connected to their old age.
  • Dependants are not just close family such as spouse or child, but also anyone who reasonably relies on the employee for care.
  • Entitlement is one week (unpaid). A week’s leave is the equivalent of a week’s work, for example if you work one day per week, you will be entitled to one day carer’s leave. If the amount of time that the employee works varies, this will be calculated as an average week’s work.

Steps Employers Should Take


Getting it wrong when dealing with flexible working requests, redundancies, paternity leave and carers leave requests could potentially leave employers exposed to Employment Tribunal claims, including claims for discrimination.

To mitigate the risk employers should take the following steps:

  • Familiarise themselves with the changes and how they might impact their business.
  • Review and adjust policies and practices to accommodate these changes, ensuring compliance and fostering a supportive work environment for employees balancing work and caregiving responsibilities.
  • Review training requirements for managers to ensure they are aware of the changes and how to properly manage rights around flexible working, paid and unpaid leave and protection from redundancy during parental leave.


Other Changes to UK Employment Laws

The changes we’ve highlighted here follow changes to the law on holiday pay that were introduced in January 2024 (New Guidance on Holiday Pay), and will be followed by further changes to UK employment law later in 2024, including:

  • A new law and code of practice on how employers must distribute tips and service charges to their workforce, expected to come into force in July 2024.
  • A new code of practice on dismissal and re-engagement (‘fire and rehire’), expected to come into force in summer 2024.
  • A new law creating a right to request more predictable working patterns for eligible workers, expected to come into force from around September 2024.
  • A new law requiring employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of their employees, expected to come into force from October 2024.


Where Can You Get Help with Employment Law?

If you need employment law help with some or all of these important changes to holiday pay and expanded rights around flexible working, paid and unpaid leave and protection from redundancy during parental leave, the team at Employment Law Services (ELS) LTD can help.

Don’t hesitate to contact our specialist team if you have any questions or book a free consultation with us online to discuss your employment law and HR needs.