April changes requiring employers to spring into action 

March, 2024 - Shoosmiths LLP

April is traditionally a month when employment law changes are made and this year is no exception. We provide a summary of the key changes employers need to be aware of and what steps they should take as a result of the changes.

National Minimum Wage

From 1 April 2024, the hourly National Living (NLW) and Minimum Wages (NMW) will increase to £11.44 (for workers aged 21 and over), £8.60 (for workers aged 18-20), £6.40 (for workers aged 16-17) and £6.40 (for apprentices) with the accommodation offset rising to £9.99 per week. Employers will need budget for the increase in staffing costs and ensure their payroll is updated accordingly so that the increases are factored into employees pay. It may be that employees who were previously paid above NMW and NLW are now much closer to the statutory minimum and care needs to be taken that inadvertent breaches of the NMW rules do not occur. Employers should review contracts and arrangements for lower paid workers to make sure they are still compliant.

Statutory Sick Pay and Statutory Family Leave Pay

From 6 April 2024, there will be an increase in Statutory Sick Pay to £116.75 and from 7 April 2024 the weekly rate of statutory maternity pay, maternity allowance, statutory paternity pay, statutory shared parental pay, statutory adoption pay, and statutory parental bereavement pay will increase to £184.03 per week or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. The rate for first six weeks’ statutory maternity or adoption pay remains at 90% of average weekly earnings. Again, employers will need to budget for the increase in staffing costs and ensure their payroll is updated accordingly so that the increases are factored into employee’s pay. It is also worth checking policies and updating these where rates are specifically referred to.

A week’s pay

The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2024 changes the limits on various tribunal awards and other amounts payable under employment law. The order applies where the event that gives rise to the entitlement to the payment occurs on or after 6 April 2024. As a result, the limit on weekly pay applied in statutory redundancy pay calculations increases from £643 to £700. Employers should be aware of the impact which the increase to weekly pay will have on any ongoing and future redundancy exercises where any dismissals are made on or after 6 April and revise any preliminary redundancy payment calculations that have already been provided to at risk employees.

Flexible Working

The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 will come into force on 6 April 2024, removing the current requirement for employees to have at least 26 weeks' continuous service to make a flexible working application. This means that the statutory right to request flexible working will be extended to all employees from day one of employment. Additional regulations implementing The Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 are also expected, allowing employees to make two flexible working requests every 12 months, a change from the current single request. The time limit for employers to deal with flexible working requests will reduce from three to two months, although this can be extended if the employee agrees. Employers will also be required to consult with an employee before refusing a request, and employees will no longer need to explain or justify the impact of the proposed change to their working arrangements.

Acas has drafted a new code of practice on how employers should handle flexible working requests and will come into effect alongside the new regulations from 6 April. Employers will need to ensure that flexible working policies are updated and that managers are trained on the new requirements.

Carer’s Leave 

The Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024 will come into force on 6 April 2024. They implement the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 and provide for a new statutory right to one week’s unpaid carer’s leave per year for eligible employees to provide or arrange care for a dependant who has: 

  • a physical or mental illness or injury that means they need care for more than three months;
  • a disability as defined by the Equality Act 2010;
  • care needs because of their old age.

It is a day-one right, meaning there is no requirement for a certain length of service. Employers will need to offer training to line managers so that they understand the new entitlement. It is also advisable to put in place a carer’s leave policy explaining who can be defined as carers and dependants, how much notice is required and what the leave can be used for.

Redundancy protection

On 6 April 2024, the Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 will bring into force the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family) Leave Act 2023. This will extend the redundancy protections that currently apply to those on maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave to include employees who are pregnant and have notified their employer about their pregnancy along with those employees who have recently returned to work from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave (of six or more consecutive weeks) up until 18 months after the expected week of childbirth, the child’s birth date, or date of adoption as applicable. 

Where the protected period covers pregnancy, the new rules will apply where the employee notifies their employer of their pregnancy on or after 6 April 2024. Where it relates to a period after relevant leave, the new rules will apply to maternity and adoption leave ending on or after 6 April 2024 and to a period of six consecutive weeks' shared parental leave starting on or after 6 April 2024. This means that employers will be required to offer suitable alternative employment, if available, to an extended category of employees as part of any redundancy process. Managers will need to be made aware of this change.

Holiday for irregular hours and part-year workers

For holiday years starting from or after 1 April 2024, irregular hours workers and part-year workers are no longer entitled to the four weeks’ annual leave and 1.6 weeks’ additional leave (totalling 5.6 weeks) that regular hours workers receive. Instead, they will accrue annual leave at the end of each pay period at the rate of 12.07% of the hours worked during that period, up to a maximum of 28 days. Employers will also be able to introduce rolled-up holiday pay for irregular hours workers and part-year workers if they so choose. This involves paying an additional amount representing holiday pay for each pay period throughout the year, instead of paying holiday pay at the time annual leave is taken. Employers of these types of workers will need to review and update their holiday entitlement and pay practices and ensure they are brought up to date.

Paternity leave

The Paternity Leave Amendment Regulations 2024 have now been enacted and will apply where the expected week of childbirth falls on or after 6 April 2024. The regulations allow paternity leave to be split into two blocks of one week at any point in the first 52 weeks (up from 56 days) after the birth or adoption of a child. Notice of entitlement to take paternity leave must be given during or before the 15th week before the expected week of birth, followed by at least 28 days’ notice of each period of leave. Employers should update their paternity leave policies and make sure that managers are aware of the changes.


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