April 2024 HR Updates: What Employers Need to Know

As we settle into the first week of British Summer Time (not just yet?) and begin our Spring cleans (ahem), let’s not also forget that April 2024 brings a plethora of employment law and statutory rate updates. Here is your roundup of the important changes happening this month:

Flexible Working Updates

This is an area that is continuing to evolve. From 6 April 2024, legislation entitling employees to request flexible working from day one of employment finally comes in to place. This is a development from the previous 26 weeks service requirement.

The Employment Rights (Flexible Working) Act 2023 applies to employee flexible working requests including those for part-time, term-time, flexi, compressed hours and location changes. In addition to the day one entitlement, changes this month include:

  • Employees will no longer need to explain the effect they think their requested change will have on their employer.
  • Employees will be able to make two requests in any 12-month period.
  • Employers must conclude the process within two months (decreased from three) unless the parties agree a longer period.
  • Employers must consult with the employee first before refusing a request.

Employers will need to update their Flexible Working policies and communicate with employees. It may also be an opportunity to consider trialling new flexible working arrangements and opening up conversations of new ways of working.

New Carer’s Leave Law

From 6 April 2024, employees will also have a statutory right to one week’s unpaid leave during any 12-month period to care for a dependant with a long-term care need. This is a new law, effective from day one of employment.

Employers should consider either updating existing relevant policies, or developing a new policy for Carers if this is not already in place, to ensure employees are aware of this new right. Alongside this, consider introducing a self-certification form, tracking system and training for managers. Experiences of being a Carer vary and this also presents an opportunity for employers to open up conversations with employees who have caring responsibilities, potentially developing inclusive practices and workplace belonging.

Paternity Leave Rights

Changes to paternity rights from 6 April 2024 will introduce new flexibilities around how paternity leave is taken, supporting a shift in greater work-life balance and gender equality. The updates includes:

  • Fathers and partners will be allowed to take their leave and pay in non-consecutive blocks, rather than the current two-week block.
  • Fathers and partners will be allowed to take their leave and pay at any point in the first year after the birth or adoption of their child.
  • Employees will only need to give 28 days’ notice of their intention to take paternity leave.

Employers will need to update existing policies and may also want to consider enhancing statutory entitlements to further support parental inclusion and work-life balance.

Extended Pregnancy and Family Leave Redundancy Protections

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 provides employees with greater protection against redundancy during pregnancy and on return to work from maternity leave, adoption leave and shared parental family-related leave.

From 6 April 2024 the redundancy protection is extended so it applies to pregnant employees from the point they inform their employer that they are pregnant. In addition, the extension includes employees returning from maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave until 18 months after the expected week of childbirth, date of the child’s birth, or date of the adoption placement.

This means employers will be required to offer pregnant employees, and those who have come back from maternity, adoption and shared parental leave until 18 months after the birth/adoption, a suitable alternative vacancy during a redundancy exercise, in favour of any other employee.

Holiday Rights

This one applies for holiday years starting on or after 1 April 2024. Irregular hours and part-year workers, who were previously entitled to 5.6 week’s holiday each year, will now accrue holiday at the end of each pay period at a rate of 12.07% of the number of hours worked in that pay period. This is up to a maximum 28 days’ holiday.

In addition, employees are entitled to carry over their whole 5.6 weeks’ statutory annual leave entitlement into the next holiday year if the reason they can’t take it is because of family related statutory leave, including maternity leave.

National Minimum Wage (NMW), National Living Wage (NLW) increases

Statutory rates, NMW and NLW are reviewed annually and this year has seen some inequalities addressed. From 1 April 2024, there are increases in the NMW for 16-17 and 18-20 year olds, the NLW, and Apprentices rate. Significantly, the NLW has been expanded to include workers aged 21+, when it previously applied to workers aged 23+. In addition, the previous domestic worker exemption from the NMW/NLW has been removed. Here is a summary of the rate changes:

Rate from 1 April 2023Rate from 1 April 2024Percentage increase
Workers aged 23 and over (NLW)£10.42
Workers aged 21 and over (NLW)£11.449.8%
Apprentices under 19, or over 19 and in the first year of the apprenticeship£5.28£6.4021.2%

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and Statutory Guarantee Pay (SGP)

SSP and SGP will both increase from 6 April 2024. SSP, which is paid when an employee is too ill to work, will rise from £109.40 to £116.75. SGP, the payment made while an employee is asked not to work, will increase from £35 to £38. This is a daily rate paid on any days where an employee is laid off, to a maximum of 5 days a week for 13 weeks. The payment will need to be pro-rated for part-time employees.

Family Friendly Statutory Payments

Then from 7 April 2024, the statutory rate for maternity, adoption, paternity, shared parental and parental bereavement payments will increase from £172.48 to £184.03. These new payments will apply to anyone currently on relevant leave as well as for new periods of leave after 7 April 2024.

Employment Tribunal (ET) Compensation Limits

There are also a number of changes to Employment Tribunal compensation limits from April 2024. This is significant for employers facing potential Employment Tribunal claims, as increased compensatory awards will apply to any events occurring after 6 April 2024. The key changes are:

  • Limit on a week’s pay for calculating redundancy and unfair dismissal basic award increasing from £643 to £700
  • Maximum basic award for unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy payment (30 weeks’ pay subject to the limit on a week’s pay) increasing from £19,290 to £21,000
  • Maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal (subject to a maximum cap of a year’s pay) increasing from £105,707 to £115,115 

As ever, it is important for employers to manage employment issues effectively to avoid potential escalations.

If you would like to discuss how any of the April 2024 changes impact your business, particularly if you are considering leveraging statutory rights as an opportunity to further enhance the employee experience, please get in touch via the Contact page or my LinkedIn profile.

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