Are you ready for key changes to employment law this year?

In the coming months, businesses in the UK will experience a series of pivotal changes in employment legislation, promising significant implications for their operations and plans.

These alterations, ranging from adjustments in existing laws to revisions in pay rates, mandate proactive steps from employers to ensure seamless compliance throughout the ensuing year.

Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the key measures set to be implemented over the next 12 months:

Enhancements in worker protection against discrimination and harassment

The upcoming amendments to the Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023, due to take effect in October 2024, will impose a substantial responsibility on employers to actively mitigate sexual harassment within the workplace.

These changes necessitate employers to adopt “reasonable steps” to prevent such misconduct, thereby fostering a safer and more inclusive working environment.

Complementing these legislative alterations is the issuance of a new statutory code of practice by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, offering comprehensive guidance on compliance. Moreover, employment tribunals will gain enhanced authority, allowing them to increase compensation by up to 25 per cent in cases where employers neglect their duty to prevent harassment.

Advancements in flexible working rights

The impending enactment of the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023, commencing on 6 April 2024, represents a fundamental shift in favour of employees’ rights. This legislation grants employees the prerogative to request flexible working arrangements from their inception of employment, diverging significantly from the previous requirement of six months’ service.

Notably, the Act permits employees to submit two requests for flexible working within a 12-month timeframe, with employers mandated to expedite their response times to these requests.

Simplification of regulations on holiday pay, working time, and TUPE

The forthcoming Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023 introduce a series of pivotal changes to the calculation of holiday pay, advocating for rolled-up holiday pay computed at a rate equivalent to 12.07 per cent of the worker’s earnings.

By simplifying the process of determining holiday entitlement, these amendments seek to ensure parity between hours worked and accrued leave.

Additionally, alterations to requirements concerning working time and rest periods are anticipated, with a notable relaxation of the mandate for employers to maintain detailed records. While ensuring compliance remains imperative, this regulatory adjustment aims to alleviate the administrative burden on employers.

Increasing certainty for gig economy workers

The impending implementation of the Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 represents a significant stride towards enhancing the security and stability of gig economy workers.

This legislation affords gig economy workers and agency personnel the right to request more predictable and consistent terms and conditions of employment, addressing the prevalent uncertainties surrounding their working arrangements.

Expected to come into effect in September 2024, this legislative amendment seeks to engender greater clarity and reassurance for workers navigating the gig economy landscape.

Changes to the National Minimum Wage

From 1 April 2024, the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) rates are increasing substantially – placing additional pressure on your payroll and businesses.

From this date, the NLW increases to £11.44 per hour – a substantial rise of £1.02 per hour or a 9.8% increase.

To complicate matters further, the eligibility age for the NLW has been lowered, making all workers aged 21 and over eligible for the NLW. This is a crucial update that broadens the scope of the NLW, impacting many employers and their payroll considerations.

Furthermore, the NMW rates for younger workers and apprentices will also see changes:

  • For 18-20-year-olds, the rate will rise to £8.60 per hour
  • For 16-17-year-olds, the new rate will be £6.40 per hour
  • The Apprenticeship rate will increase to £6.40 per hour

These updates necessitate a review and adjustment of your payroll processes to comply with the new wage standards and eligibility requirements.

The Government continues to name and shame employers who fail to do this (and indeed has recently published a list of some 524 employers on 24 February 2024), and you may receive substantial fines (on top of orders to make any underpayments) as well.

Time for review

Given the sweeping scope of legislative changes slated for 2024, businesses are urged to conduct comprehensive reviews of their existing HR and payroll frameworks to preemptively address compliance challenges.

For tailored guidance and support in navigating these transformative changes, businesses are encouraged to reach out for assistance.

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