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UK HR & employment law update from myHRdept April ’24

UK HR and employment law update for employers April 2024

Welcome to our latest newsletter, and as has become customary, it’s also available in video form – click on the icon above.

April is the month most statutory updates of employment law are effected, & in this article we’ll take a look at the various employment law changes coming our way in a matter of days.

Election year – Labour party employment law intentions

Before looking at the more immediate changes, let’s remember that it is election year, and virtually everyone is predicting a change of government, so what will a Labour government mean for employers?

Angela Rayner published a green paper outlining Labour’s intentions in precisely this area, and these include the ability for employees to bring an unfair dismissal claim from day 1 of employment – the law currently requires 2 years’ service for this. They will also harmonise worker and employee status, ban zero hours agreements & create sector by sector ‘fair pay agreements’ – European style agreements that will set minimum terms and conditions and dismissal compensation arrangements and will promote the influence of trade unions.

I can’t overstate the significance some of these policies, if implemented, will have for employers – and these are just a few of the changes proposed. If you want to read more about Labour’s plans for employment law, just follow this link, which will take you to the myHRdept news pages.

January – New code of practice on Preventing Illegal Working

Before looking forwards let’s take a look back, because January  saw the new Preventing Illegal Working -code of practice, which comes with increased fines – £45,000 for a first offence, up to £60,000 per illegal worker for employers who are repeat offenders. 

Employers should review their policies and procedures to ensure compliance with these changes, to read the new code, follow this link

UK employment law changes coming in April 2024 

From April 2024 we’ll see changes to how holiday pay should be calculated, and the legalisation of rolled up Holiday Pay  for workers with irregular hours or who work for just part of the year.

Employers will be permitted to roll up holiday pay into wages, paying a supplement to reflect the accrued holiday, and those employers who provide only the minimum holiday entitlement equivalent to 5.6 weeks per annum can calculate holiday pay for these workers at 12.07%.

These changes largely stem from a case law decision that previously resulted peculiarly in some part year workers receiving proportionately more holiday pay than their full-time counterparts. While many employment & HR advisors encouraged their clients to adopt convoluted formula to accommodate the impact of that case, myHRdept took a policy decision to recommend clients to continue to use 12.07% as the calculator – we predicted (correctly) that legislators would fix the problem. 

Rolled up holiday pay has been unlawfully used by many employers for years anyway, and so this is a case of law catching up with practice, but do bear in mind that one of the Labour Party’s stated employment policies is to ban zero hours contracts, and if they actually implement that … and at myHRdept we’re not sure whether they can in practice … then these changes will become largely obsolete.

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wages April 2024

Also in April the National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) will see significant increases. For the first time, the top rate (NLW) will apply to workers aged 21 and over (in the 23/24 year it’s 23 and over), and we’ll see an increase of 9.8% in the headline rate to £11.44 per hour. 

Other rates increase by up to 21.2%. For employers who pay minimum wage for, in particular, a young workforce, 2024 is going to prove an expensive year. 

To see all of the new rates, please see our earlier article (or watch the video)  by following this link.

Increases to other UK statutory rates in April 2024

Other statutory rates are increasing in April too – guarantee pay, which is a statutory payment employers have to make for workless periods, increases by £3 a day to £38…Statutory Sick Pay is up to £116.75 per week and all of the various forms of statutory paid family leave increases to a maximum of £184.03 per week.

 New right to Carer’s Leave 

 April sees the arrival of a new employment right for employees with dependent care responsibility. The right bestows an entitlement to one week’s unpaid leave each year to provide or arrange care for a dependant. The leave is unpaid, and can be postponed by employers if the timing of the requested dates would cause operational difficulty.

Some employers may choose to enhance this right, perhaps by providing pay for some or all of the entitlement, or by choosing to extend the period beyond the statutory minimum.

Refusing an eligible employee permission to take their entitlement to Carer’s Leave would amount to a breach of contract, and could attract financial penalties, including for unfair dismissal in certain circumstances.

Enhanced protection from redundancy 

Currently women on maternity leave are given special protection from being made redundant if redundancy comes about while they’re on maternity leave, but from April 24 this will be extended to include the period of pregnancy and for 6 months following their return to work after maternity. Similar rights will extend to adoptive parents and those taking 6 or more consecutive weeks of shared parental leave. 

New day 1 right to request flexible working

April 24 changes to the right to request flexible working arrangements include: 

  • the right for employees to apply for flexible working from day one of employment
  • the right to make two requests in each 12-month period (currently just one request in 12 months is permitted)
  • the requirement for employers to consult with employees if they are thinking of rejecting the request
  • the reduction in the period required for the employer to respond to the request from 3 months to 2
  • the removal of the requirement for the employee to set out in their request information about how the request could be accommodated.

July 24 – amendments to TUPE

Later in the year in July we’re expecting TUPE to be amended to allow for employers who have less than 50 staff, or employers of any size who are proposing to transfer less than 10 staff, to consult with employees directly. Under existing regulations employers often have to elect representatives for this purpose, although, again, myHRdept have always adopted a more pragmatic approach when advising clients on small scale or low impact transfers. 

Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023

Also in July and of interest to myHRdept’s licensed retail clients, the Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023 aims to ensure that 100% of tips are distributed fairly and transparently among workers, the draft statutory code of practice is already available. 

Right to request predictability of employment

Around September 2024 we’re expecting a new right for employees with unpredictable terms and conditions (many zero hours workers would be included here) to apply for greater predictability of, in particular, working hours. 

October 24 – new duty on employers to prevent Sexual Harassment, Duty to Prevent 

The national press and myHRdept have featured numerous articles concerning sexual harassment, this new duty will require employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace,  and should they fail to do so, any tribunal award may be uplifted by 25%. 

Last year we released training and communication materials to enable myHRdept & JCHR clients to quickly and easily help raise awareness of sexual harassment – our videos and resources have been accessed thousands of times, and will remain free for our clients to use – and we will be issuing refreshed versions throughout 2024. 

3-month statutory cap on non-compete clauses

We are expecting (there is no firm date for this yet) a 3-month statutory cap on non-compete clauses. These clauses often feature in restrictive covenants contained in employment contracts.

Over recent times myHRdept have been advising clients to move towards shorter restricted periods which are more likely to be enforceable. 

Increases to UK employment tribunal compensation limits & redundancy calculations from April 24 

Returning to the April 24 changes, the annual increase in compensation limits in employment tribunals comes into play, and this year’s numbers are a bit more memorable, with the cap on a week’s pay increasing to £700 per week. The maximum unfair dismissal award increases to £115,115 pounds, which our good friend and employment barrister Daniel Barnett pointed out, looks very much like a telephone number for directory enquiries!

The new weekly cap on a week’s pay means the maximum statutory redundancy payment, which is capped at 20 years’ service, is raised to £21,000 – that would be for someone who has worked for 20 years all beyond the age of 41, when SRP compensation increases to 1.5 weeks per year of service – so 30 weeks effectively in total.

Historical reasons employers have accidentally breached national minimum wage rates

Earlier in this article we covered the minimum wage increases from April. To date HMRC have unearthed 524 employers who failed to pay this. The most common reason for falling short was the effect of salary sacrifice schemes, where employees sacrifice some of their gross pay in exchange for a benefit, like an electric car perhaps. Many employers have fallen into the trap of allowing employees to sacrifice too much pay, resulting in their gross pay falling below the national minimums.

If you offer salary sacrifice schemes, or are planning to, this is a point worth considering.

This link will take you to the myHRdept article which looks at this, and the other reasons employers have missed their minimum wage obligations.

GMB staff go on strike in protest at Union’s failure to tackle toxic culture

Finally, the GMB, a union often responsible for coordinating strikes, are suffering a dose of their own medicine, with their own staff going on strike.

GMB staff are striking over an alleged toxic, misogynistic culture within the GMB, unearthed a few years ago by independent enquiry but, say the staff, has never effectively been dealt with.

If you want to read more about it, the link to that particular article is here.

HR, payroll and H&S support from myHRdept

We hope this update was useful. myHRdept is an independent family run business – we are not a franchise – we provide HR, payroll, employment law and health and safety services, we also recruit for HR and other vacancies.

Whilst we are a prominent provider of outsourced HR and payroll, we also support in-house HR teams, most usually by helping with their employee relations cases and with their employment law needs 

For a no obligation assessment of how partial or full outsourcing could help your organisation, or to discuss any of other services, please contact us & we’ll be happy to arrange a Teams meeting, or attend in person if you prefer.

Thank you for taking the time to read our April 24 HR and employment law update for employers.

If you’re thinking of outsourcing your HR, payroll or employment law needs, why not contact myHRdept? Call us on 01628 820515, email us at  enquiries@myhrdept.co.uk to discuss your requirements, or contact us via our website and we’ll call you back.

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