As the calendar flips to 2024, UK employers are gearing up for a series of significant changes in employment laws. The government has recently made several announcements outlining these alterations, and it is imperative for those looking to specialise in employment law to stay informed. In this article, we will delve into the key modifications that will come into effect in 2024, providing an overview of each change and linking to additional resources for in-depth exploration.

Minimum Wage Increase

Effective April 1, 2024, the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage will experience a noteworthy increase. Notably, the National Living Wage will now encompass individuals aged 21 and over. The revised rates are as follows:

  • National Living Wage: £11.44
  • 18-20 year old rate: £8.60
  • 16-17 year old rate: £6.40
  • Apprentice rate: £6.40

This adjustment is expected to impact businesses of all sizes, requiring careful consideration of its implications on budgeting and overall wage structures. 

The Treasury has confirmed an increase in the national living wage for next year, benefiting nearly three million individuals based on the recommendations of the Low Pay Commission in November. Kate Smith, the head of pensions at Aegon, notes that the rise will be well-received by low earners in the UK, providing additional income during a period of elevated living costs. The proposed increase in the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage underscores the government’s dedication to ensuring fair compensation for workers. Employers are advised to conscientiously implement these changes to prevent legal repercussions, as non-compliance may result in penalties and legal actions.

Holiday Entitlement Changes

The draft Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023 have been released by the Government. These regulations follow a consultation earlier in the year on amendments to the law regarding working time, holiday pay, and the TUPE Regulations. The primary objective is to eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy that impedes the effectiveness of existing employment rights.

Scheduled to be in effect from January 1, 2024, the Regulations provide employers with limited time to familiarise themselves with the proposed changes. The key areas of employment law affected include:

  • TUPE: Simplifying consultation requirements for small businesses and small TUPE transfers.
  • Working time: Streamlining employers’ record-keeping obligations under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (“WTRs”).
  • Annual leave and holiday pay: Clarifying carry-over rights and the calculation of holiday pay.

New Forms of Family Leave

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 introduces a new entitlement to one week’s unpaid leave each year for employees providing or arranging care for a dependent. With an effective date of April 6, 2024, this Act aims to support employees with care responsibilities and promote a more inclusive workplace.

Similarly, the Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 grants statutory paid leave for eligible employed parents with a newborn in neonatal care. While the Act received Royal Assent in May 2023, the regulations are expected to be implemented in April 2025.

Employers and their legal counsel must prepare for these changes by updating their leave policies and accommodating the needs of employees with caregiving responsibilities.

Flexible Working

The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 brings about procedural changes in flexible working requests. Employees will be entitled to make two flexible working requests per year without the requirement to outline the potential impact on the employer’s business. Additionally, the right to make a flexible working request will be extended to day one of employment, starting from April 6, 2024.

The Flexible Working Bill has received Royal Assent, granting millions of British workers increased flexibility in determining their work location and schedule. Fulfilling a 2019 Manifesto commitment to promote flexible working, the Act mandates employers to consider and discuss employee requests, with individuals entitled to make two requests annually. The response time for these requests has been reduced from three months to two.

Flexible working encompasses various arrangements, including adjustments to working hours, patterns (such as part-time, term-time, flexi-time, and compressed hours), and modifications to start and finish times. It also extends to the flexibility of working remotely, whether from home or a satellite office, thereby reducing commuting time.

Aside from the evident benefits to workers, these measures are advantageous for British businesses. Research indicates that companies embracing flexible working attract top talent, enhance staff motivation, and decrease staff turnover, ultimately boosting productivity and competitiveness.

CIPD research reveals that 6 percent of employees changed jobs last year due to a lack of flexible options, and 12 percent left their professions altogether because of insufficient flexibility within their sectors. This equates to nearly 2 million and 4 million workers, respectively.

Atypical Working

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 establishes a new statutory right for workers under atypical contracts to request more predictable terms and conditions. This encompasses fixed-term workers, agency workers, and those engaged under zero-hour contracts. Although the Act received Royal Assent in September 2023, it is expected to come into force around September 2024.

The Act, seeks to address the issue of “one-sided flexibility” prevalent in the relationships between employers and workers engaged in non-traditional forms of work. This is particularly relevant to gig economy workers and those in industries characterised by unpredictable shift patterns or short-term engagements. The government has introduced this legislation with the goal of providing stability to working arrangements, with the expectation that it will contribute to increased job satisfaction and improved staff retention. While the intentions are positive, the actual benefits for workers remain uncertain. Employers, however, have a one-year window until the legislation takes effect in September 2024, allowing them time to prepare. It is essential for employers to anticipate potential requests and evaluate how these changes might impact workforce management and contractual agreements.


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Harassment Prevention

The Workers Protection (Amendments of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 places a responsibility on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Coming into force in October 2024, this Act underscores the need for employers to proactively address and prevent instances of sexual harassment.

In addition, the Protection from Sex-Based Harassment in Public Act 2023 introduces amendments to the Public Order Act 1986, establishing a new offence related to sex-based harassment in public places. This extends potential criminal liability for sexual harassment in the workplace.

Despite existing robust legal protections against harassment in discrimination law, workplace sexual harassment continues to be pervasive, as evidenced by recent studies. For instance, recent research from the TUC reveals that “over one in two women and nearly 7 out of 10 LGBT workers” have encountered sexual harassment at work. In light of this, there have been persistent calls for increased regulation in this domain.

The Act introduces a novel proactive obligation on employers to take reasonable measures to prevent sexual harassment of their employees during their employment. It’s crucial to note that this new law specifically pertains to sexual harassment under the Equality Act 2010 and does not extend to other forms of harassment.

The practical implications of this change are yet to unfold. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has affirmed its intention to update its technical guidance on sexual harassment to incorporate the new duty and outline the necessary steps for compliance. These modifications will undergo a consultation process, providing employers with an early opportunity to review the forthcoming guidance.

Protection From Redundancy

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 introduces safeguards for pregnant employees or those returning from parental leave, prioritising them for redeployment opportunities in redundancy situations. These safeguards apply to maternity and adoption leave ending on or after April 6, 2024, and shared parental leave starting on or after the same date.

This implies that individuals coming back from family leave will have the initial option to consider other job opportunities, and they will also enjoy extended protection. The government anticipates that this measure will safeguard new parents and pregnant women against workplace discrimination, providing enhanced job stability during a crucial phase in their lives.

Employers will need to familiarise themselves with the guidelines and regulations outlined in this Act to ensure compliance and fair treatment of employees during times of organisational change.

Key Takeaways

In conclusion, the impending changes in employment laws demand a meticulous legal analysis from employers. Law students should recognise the imperative for thorough legal scrutiny of existing policies, contracts, and practices to ensure compliance with the updated laws.

Legal diligence in implementing necessary adjustments, crafting new policies, and establishing protocols will serve to mitigate risks and fortify employers against potential legal challenges. Proactive engagement with legal counsel and a continual monitoring of regulatory developments will be paramount for navigating the evolving legal landscape in 2024.


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