24 April 2024

From April 2024, several new changes to employment laws and regulations in the UK have come into place. The key changes are:

Flexible working

Under Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 and Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023, the right to request flexible working arrangements is now a day one right. Employees can make a flexible working application on their first day of employment.

Employees can also make two applications per year rather than one, and Employers must deal with the application and respond within two months.

It remains the case that this is a right to REQUEST flexible working, not a right for any request to be granted. Employers may decline the request but only on the basis of one of the eight statutory reasons including, for example, the inability to organise work among existing staff, the inability to recruit additional staff or the burden of additional costs. It is important that all employers consider requests carefully and meaningfully and communicate clearly with the employees.

Holiday Pay

Holiday pay for workers with irregular hours or those who work part of the year (e.g. term time only) can now be calculated as 12.07% of their working hours.

In addition, employers can opt to pay “rolled up” holiday, paying accrued leave by way of an uplift at the time of accrual. This means that employees would receive an additional payment in their wages, rather than pay when any holiday is taken.

Carers Leave

The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 recognises the importance of caregiving responsibilities and introduces unpaid leave for employees with dependents with long-term care needs. Changes include:

  • Day-one right: there is no qualifying period required. It can be requested from the very first day of employment.
  • Eligibility: It applies to anyone caring for a spouse, civil partner, child, parent, or other dependant who needs care due to disability, old age, or illness that will last more than 3 months.
  • Duration: The maximum duration of leave is one week per year which can be taken in a minimum of half-day blocks.
  • Employers rights: Employers cannot refuse a request but can postpone it if business operations are unduly disrupted. It’s important for employers to balance the needs of their workforce with the smooth functioning of the organisation.

Family Rights

Redundancy protection

The snappily titled Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 extends priority status to pregnant employees and those returning from maternity leave (or adoption or shared parental leave in redundancy situations).

Redundancy protection will start when an employee tells their employer about their pregnancy on or after 6 April 2024.

If an employee is entitled to statutory maternity leave, the protected period of pregnancy will end on the day the statutory maternity leave starts. If the pregnancy ends and they are not entitled to statutory maternity leave, the protected period ends two weeks after the end of pregnancy.

The additional protected period in respect of Maternity will end 18 months after the expected week of childbirth or, if the employee has notified the employer of the birth date, it will end 18 months after that date

Paternity Leave

Paternity leave can now be taken in the first year of a child’s birth, rather than in the first 8 weeks.

It can be taken in one-week blocks across that year or in a block of two weeks. It’s no longer the case that if you take one week only, you lose the right to take a second.

Breastfeeding Risk Assessment

Further family rights include the obligation of employers to undertake a risk assessment for breastfeeding mothers.


Other upcoming changes that will be music to many employers' ears are the amendments to the consultation requirements under TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)).

For transfers on or after 1 July 2024, businesses of fewer than 50 employees, or businesses of ANY size where transfer of fewer than 10 employees are transferring, consultation may be undertaken directly with those employees without the need to elect employee representatives (unless there are existing employee representatives already in place).

All employers should ensure they familiarise themselves with these changes and make any necessary changes to their policies and procedures.

Do you need further guidance?

Keeping up-to-date and informed of all employment law developments is vital for employers. If you have any specific questions or need further guidance, please contact our Employment Team for more details.

Dawn Gallie, Head of Employment, holds regular Employment Advice Team (EAT) lunches on various topics, with an open floor for questions and discussion on issues facing employers and best practices when managing HR matters.

If you work in HR or you are a small-medium business owner, keep an eye out on our website and socials for further information.