Employment Law: What’s in store for 2024?
A summary of the latest changes to employment law expected in 2024, by Employment Partner Michael Scutt.
If the last year was relatively quiet for employment lawyers, this year is likely to be a bit more active. New legislation coming in will require employers to review every aspect of their employment policies and procedures. The Supreme Court is also due to give Judgment in some important cases. Finally, there will be a General Election at some point in the year, meaning more changes will be announced if not introduced before the end of this year. Labour has promised an employment rights bill within its first 100 days in office and that could bring significant changes. We will have to wait for the party to publish its manifesto to see what they are proposing.
In this post, Michael Scutt looks at some of the legislative changes to employment law in 2024, which employers need to be aware of, plus a case on settlement agreements which could be significant.
Please contact us on 01707 329333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you require employment law advice.
The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act ended the supremacy of EU law in the UK from 31st December 2023. This means that the UK courts are no longer obliged to follow EU legal principles or decisions in cases that arise after that date. To address this, the government has issued new regulations to re-state those parts of retained EU law and make changes elsewhere.
One such example is the Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023 to deal with holiday pay and entitlement. For employers, this may impact on holiday pay and entitlements. So called “rolled-up” holiday pay will cease to be unlawful (although many employers have continued to use the practice) for staff working irregular hours or on a part-year basis from 1 April. Rolled-up holiday pay will not be lawful for all workers. Those workers who do receive rolled up holiday pay must still take their 5.6 weeks holiday per year.
Of more wide application is the removal of the need for employers to keep records on workers’ daily working time. In TUPE transfers, where the business has fewer than 50 employees, or fewer than ten employees are being transferred, the business can consult directly with employees rather than having to set up a collective consultation process.
National Living Wage (NLW)
From 1st April 2024, the NLW will make its largest ever increase from £10.42 to £11.44.
The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023 will reform the current law on tips and service charges from 1 July 2024 to prevent businesses from retaining some or all of tips paid by card. This will instead require the money is paid through to staff without deduction. Consequently, this should ensure that gratuities are distributed fairly amongst staff.
From 6th April 2024, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working ) Act 2023 will give employees a day one right (i.e from the day they start work) to request flexible working. Currently they must have 6 months’ service to be eligible to make the request. Employees will be allowed to make two requests in any 12 month period and they will not have to provide an explanation of how the change they request will affect the business. An employer will now have two rather than three months to provide a response, but the lawful reasons for refusing the request remain the same.
The same Act also introduces the right for workers and agency workers to ask for more predictable terms and conditions at work e.g. in respect of working patterns – expected in September 2024.
Pregnancy & Redundancy
Pregnant employees and those returning from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave will receive greater protection from redundancy from 6th April. The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 will extend the protected period in which a pregnant employee should be offered a suitable alternative vacancy over other employees, from the time the pregnant employee notifies the employer of their pregnancy, to 18 months after childbirth.
From 6th April 2024, the Carer's Leave Act 2023 will give employees a day one right to seek one week of unpaid leave annually to care for a dependant with long term care needs. This is any person with a condition that deems them disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010, or having an illness or injury, either physical or mental, that means they will need care for more than three months, or through old age.
The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) 2023 regulations will come into force on 26 October 2024. See our previous blog post here about it. The Equality and Human Rights Commission will publish a Code of Practice on what steps employers are required to take to meet their duties under the regulations. We will update you on this when the CoP has been published.
In the Scottish case of Bathgate v Technip Singapore PTE Ltd, a case on age discrimination, the issue was whether a settlement agreement can compromise an unknown future discrimination claim. The Employment Appeal Tribunal held that it could not, which would obviously have significant implications for all employers who use settlement agreements.
Judgment has recently been given and the Scottish Inner Court of Session held that settlement agreements can settle future claims, but the type of claim must be clearly identified. There is no need for the complaint made to have been foreseen at the time the settlement agreement is entered into, but the wording of the agreement must cover the dispute which does arise. As it is a Scottish case, it is not binding on courts in England & Wales but will be persuasive. The main takeaway from the case is that care will need to be taken to ensure settlement agreements specify the claims being waived with reference to the statute sections concerned and be clearly expressed. This case shows that practice of appending a lengthy list of waived claims to the end of a settlement agreement is the safest way to proceed.
Hiring and Firing
The government’s draft Statutory Code of Practice on Dismissal and Re-engagement closed last May. This seeks to address the practice of employers imposing new terms and conditions on employees by terminating their employment and the re-hiring on new, lesser, terms. The purpose of this Code is to ensure that employers take all reasonable steps to meaningfully consult with employees and trade unions in good faith, before imposing change. It also aims to prevent threats of dismissal being made to enforce changes. If an employer fails to follow the code, then an Employment Tribunal can award an increase in compensation by up to 25%. It is not yet in force and the government has not set a date for it. This is likely to be of significant interest to employers so watch this space.
On the face of it, some of the changes might seem technical in nature, but they should not be ignored. 2024 is set to be an important year for changes in Employment Law.
As ever, if you need more information on employment law matters and any of the points mentioned above, we would be happy to talk to you. Please contact us on 01707 329333 or email email@example.com.