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Peter Etherington
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Employment Update for Small Businesses
January 2024

Dear Subscriber

Happy New Year to you all!

There a lot of changes coming up this year in the world of employment law, many of which we have previously reported and some of which will directly affect you. To start the New Year we are providing a summary of what is to come with actual or estimated dates. There is a lot here, so please contact us if you need advice on any of the changes.

Please contact me if you would like to find out a bit more about any of the subjects raised in this update or if you need any help or advice.

Please forward this email to any of your contacts who might find it of benefit.

Regards
Peter Etherington
Tel: 01664 668164

www.etherington.co.uk

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Peter Etherington
Forthcoming Changes for 2024…
Carer’s Leave, Holiday Pay, Flexible Working, Redundancy, TUPE & Discrimination
Carer’s Leave
New Regulations come into force on 6th April 2024. They give employee who have a dependant with long-term care needs the right to time off (without pay). The maximum entitlement is one week in any 12-month period.

We will be drawing up a Carer’s Leave policy and procedure for our retained clients to incorporate in their staff handbooks.

Changes to calculation of holiday for workers with irregular hours
This change takes effect from the start of the holiday year which falls on or after 1st April 2024 (so if your holiday year is January to December, it will apply from January 2025).

This is quite a complicated issue which aims to reverse some decisions by the European Court of Justice over the last several years, now that we are no longer in Europe. It only applies to people who are on irregular hours – e.g. zero hours or casual workers, or those who only work part of the year (such as term-time only).

Employers will be able to pay these types of workers holiday pay each pay period rather than when they take holiday, using the calculation of 12.07% of the pay received in the relevant pay period.

You may wish to contact us for help establishing whether you should try to change the way you handle holiday for irregular hours workers or stay the same (this will also depend on whether or not it would amount to a detrimental contractual change for individuals).

Flexible Working
The right to request flexible working is to become a day one right from 6th April 2024.  Currently an employee needs 26 weeks’ service before they can make a request.

Whilst we were waiting for details of the further changes to be made to flexible working (as reported in our August update), that has not yet materialised and we will update you if and when that occurs.

Protection from Redundancy for Pregnancy and Family Leave
The draft regulations detailing the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 have been laid before Parliament and are due to come into force from 6th April 2024.

They extend the protection already afforded to those on maternity leave to cover pregnancy as well as the 18 month period from the expected week of childbirth. For Adoption Leave, it covers 18 months from the placement for adoption, and there are similar periods covering Shared Parental Leave.

The protection that is offered is quite limited – it does not stop people in the protected period being made redundant, it merely affords them the advantage of being offered any suitable alternative position ahead of other staff, to try to avoid redundancy.

Changes to TUPE
The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations are also being changed with respect to any relevant transfers that take place on or after 1st July 2024.

Currently employers must inform and consult appropriate representatives when TUPE applies, the only exception being when the employer in question has fewer than 10 employees. The new Regulations extend that exception to apply to employers with fewer than 50 employees, or if the number of employees transferring is fewer than 10. In those cases, the employer will be able to inform and consult the individual employees directly if there are no pre-existing appropriate representatives (such as a trade union or staff association covering this area).

Sexual Harassment
As reported in our November update, the law on sexual harassment is to be updated and is expected to come into force in October 2024.

Equality Act Update
The Equality Act has been updated with effect from 1st January. These are largely technical changes which will not require any policy change, and reflect case law developments. In short, the message is to continue to act reasonably to all staff and to avoid singling people out.

The headlines are:

  • An extension of the definition of indirect discrimination – to include people who do not share the same protected characteristic as a group of people who are disadvantaged by an employer’s provision, criterion or practice (PCP), but are nevertheless similarly disadvantaged. For example, it is generally accepted that women bear the chief responsibility for childcare and in many cases can claim indirect sex discrimination if the employer has a PCP that disadvantages them – such as a requirement to be office based 7.00a.m. to 4.00p.m. (which could make it impossible to manage alongside childcare arrangements). Under this changed definition, it may be possible for a man to bring a similar claim if he has chief responsibility for childcare. (NB it is possible for indirect discrimination to be justified in law, so please always contact us for further advice).
  • An update to the definition of “disability” to make it clear that a reference to a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities includes a reference to their ability to participate fully and effectively in working life on an equal basis with other workers.
  • An update to the definition of direct discrimination to include discriminatory statements made about not wanting to recruit people with certain protected characteristics even where there is no active recruitment process current and no identifiable victim.
  • To make it clear that discrimination on grounds of breastfeeding is included in the protected characteristic of sex.
National Minimum and Living Wage
From 1st April 2024, the minimum wage bands are increasing and changing:

  • to £11.44 per hour for workers aged 21 and over (from £10.42 for 23 and over and from £10.18 for 21 and 22 year olds)
  • to £8.60 per hour (from £7.49) for workers aged 18 to 20
  • to £6.40 per hour (from £5.28) for workers aged 16 and 17; and for apprentices under 19 and those over 19 in their first year*

*N.B. Apprentices over 19 and who have completed at least one year are entitled to the appropriate rate for their age.

www.etherington.co.uk

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