Employment law changes for April 2024 – further details

Wake Smith Solicitors 29 January 2024

April always sees legislative updates for the new business year with several covering employment law.

Changes include increased redundancy protection for pregnant women and maternity leave returners; greater protection against sexual harassment and help for carers and neonatal parents.

Nazia Kausar, solicitor in the employment team at Wake Smith Solicitors takes a further look at the forthcoming changes and how these will affect employers and employees, in part two of two articles.

 

6 April – Extending priority status for redeployment in a redundancy situation for pregnant women and employees returning from maternity, adoption and/or shared parental leave.

The current rules provide that employees on maternity leave should be given priority status for redeployment in a redundancy situation.

However, from 6 April 2024, this protection will also be extended to cover both pregnancy and a period known as the "additional protected period":

  • Pregnancy – priority status in redeployment will start when an employee tells their employer about their pregnancy. If the employee is entitled to statutory maternity leave, the protected period of pregnancy will end on the day the statutory maternity leave starts. If the pregnancy ends and they are not entitled to statutory maternity leave, the protected period ends two weeks after the end of pregnancy.
  • Maternity leave - The additional protected period will end 18 months after the expected week of childbirth, unless the employee has informed the employer of the date of their child's birth, in which case the additional protected period will end 18 months after that date.
  • Adoption leave - The additional protected period ends 18 months after the child's placement or the date they enter Great Britain (in the case of overseas adoptions).
  • Shared parental leave - For those taking six or more consecutive weeks of shared parental leave but who have not taken maternity or adoption leave, the additional protected period ends 18 months after the date of the child's birth or placement (or date they enter Great Britain).

Where the protected period covers pregnancy, the new rules will apply where the employee notifies their employer of their pregnancy on or after 6 April 2024.

Where it relates to a period after relevant leave, the new rules will apply to maternity and adoption leave ending on or after 6 April 2024. In the case of Shared Parental leave when an employee had taken the priority status in redeployment will apply when leave is starting on or after 6 April 2024.

New duty to prevent sexual harassment

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 has received royal assent and will come into force on the 26 October 2024.

The Act introduces a duty on employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent employees from sexual harassment “in the course of their employment”. (This latter part of the Act reflects the commitments made by the Government in its response to the 2019 consultation on workplace sexual harassment).

The duty will be enforced by Employment Tribunals who will be allowed to apply an uplift of up to 25% to an employees’ compensation in sexual harassment cases where the employer has failed to take all reasonable steps to prevent this.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission will produce a statutory code of practice to provide guidance to employers to help them understand the sort of steps they need to take to meet the new duty.

Employers should remember that Employment Tribunals will expect an employer to show they took all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment by:

  • having a policy (usually in their Staff Handbook)
  • providing training
  • taking steps to deal effectively with complaints, and
  • where there is proven sexual harassment as a result of a grievance, taking appropriate disciplinary action against the employee(s) who perpetrated the sexual harassment.

Neonatal leave and pay

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Bill will entitle parents to each take up to 12 weeks of leave, with statutory Neonatal Care Pay in addition to other leave entitlements such as maternity and paternity leave, to spend more time with their baby who, having been born prematurely or sick, is receiving intensive care.

Neonatal leave will be a day one right and give parents protection from dismissal or detriment. The estimated time for the implementation around April 2025.


Leave for unpaid carers

The Government has introduced the Carer’s Leave Act 2023, which will give employees with care obligations a minimum of one week’s unpaid carer’s leave per year.

Once implemented (April 2024), this unpaid leave will be available as a day one right as well as giving those who exercise the right protections from dismissal or detrimental treatment.

 

May 24 - Tipping, gratuities, cover and service charges

The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023, will require that employers allocate all qualifying tips between workers with no deductions (other than those which are required by tax law).

Employers will also be required to have a written policy explaining how their tips will be allocated.

This is to ensure that tips are distributed in accordance with a new statutory Code of Practice on Tipping.

Employers will be expected to retain receipt and allocation records – and to share those records on request. The Act comes into force in 1 July 2024.

Dismissal and re-engagement, fire and rehire

In the wake of the mass redundancies at P&O Ferries in March 2022, which occurred without notice or consultation, the Government announced that it would introduce a new Statutory Code of Practice on ‘fire and rehire’ practices.

The draft Statutory Code of Practice requires employers to hold ‘fair, transparent and meaningful consultations’ with employees where changes are proposed for employment terms and conditions.

The final version of the code is expected to be published in Spring 2024.

Further advice

If you require any advice on the matters discussed in this article, please give our employment team a call on 0114 266 6660, or click the 'contact us' button below.

Link to part one article.

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