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Employment Law Updates in the UK

Important updates to the UK employment law affecting employee leave, flexible working, and statutory payments came into effect in April 2024. Here’s a breakdown for businesses with UK employees:

Statutory Leave Changes

Carer’s leave

Employees will have a statutory right to a week’s unpaid leave each year to care for a dependent from 6 April 2024.

Key features:

  • Day 1 right for all employees to take up to one week’s unpaid leave in a rolling 12-month period to provide or arrange care for a dependent with a long-term care need.
  • “Dependent” includes family members and anyone relying on the employee for long-term care.
  • Carer’s leave can be taken in half, one or multi-day blocks, up to a week’s leave in total.
  • Notice must be at least twice the requested leave duration or three days, whichever is greater.
  • Employers can only postpone leave due to operational disruption, with a counter-notice explaining the reason and revised dates within seven days.

Paternity leave

Increased flexibility allows employee to take statutory paternity leave in two separate one-week blocks (or one block of two weeks) within the first year of birth/adoption (previously eight weeks after birth/adoption).

Key features:

  • Employees will be able to choose to take statutory paternity leave in either one block of two weeks or two separate blocks of one week’s leave. The current overall entitlement of two weeks’ leave is unchanged.
  • Employees may take the leave at any time in the first year of birth/placement for adoption. The current regime requires the individual to take the leave within the first eight weeks after birth/placement for adoption.
  • 15 weeks’ notice required before birth and 28 days’ notice before each leave period.

Flexible Working Rights

Employees now have the right to request flexible working arrangements from day one of employment, offering greater flexibility for balancing work and personal commitments.

Key Changes:

  • Right to make two requests in a 12-month period (previously one).
  • Two-month employer response timeframe (previously three months).
  • Mandatory employer consultation before rejecting a request.
  • Employees no longer need to explain the impact on the employer.

Increases to Statutory Payments

  • National Living Wage Increase: Raised to £11.44 per hour for workers aged 21 and over (previously £10.42 and applied only to those 23 or over).
  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): Increased to £116.75 per week (previously £109.40).
  • Statutory Parental Payments: Increased to £184.03 per week for maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental, and parental bereavement pay (previously £172.48).

Statutory Holiday Entitlement

Effective for leave years starting April 1, 2024 or later.

New rules will change how holiday pay is accrued for certain workers and allow for rolled-up holiday pay at a rate of 12.07%. (Specific details not covered here, but further resources can be provided).

Seeking guidance on updating your policies, procedures, and employment contracts to ensure compliance? Our team of Employment Law Experts, specialised in Ireland, the UK and Northern Ireland, are ready to assist you.

Contact us to support and train you and your managers in implementing these vital changes effectively.

Laura Banfield, Voltedge Management Senior HR Consultant

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