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Employment Law Changes in April

Can you risk being caught out by April’s employment law changes?

Fortunately for you, we’ve broken down many of the changes that apply to SME owners to make it as straightforward as possible for you to make the necessary changes before it’s too late.

Here’s what you need to do in order to comply with the new and amended employment laws, which include the introduction of carer's leave, changes to flexible working requests, and updated rules on taking paternity leave.

Check your rates of pay!

On 1st April, the national minimum wage is rising from £10.42 to £11.44, and it’s extending to apply to workers aged 21 and over (for pay reference periods beginning on or after 1st April 2024).
Ensure that your rates of pay meet this new lower limit, paying extra attention to salaries, where an equivalent ‘hourly rate’ can easily be overlooked. You also need to check that employees are paid at least the minimum rate for the age band they fall into, as those aged 21 or 22 may be entitled to a pay rise.

Annual leave calculations are changing

Also kicking in on 1st April, we have changes to holiday entitlement and pay for irregular hours and part-year workers (for holiday years beginning on or after 1st April 2024).
The key change is that holiday entitlement for irregular hours workers and part-year workers is calculated using an accrual method. Under the new method, entitlement accrues at 12.07% of hours worked in a pay period.
If you’re an employer with a holiday year running in line with the financial year from April to March, you have the immediate task of updating your holiday pay calculations for the above employees. These changes need to be reflected in both holiday policies and contractual arrangements.

Updated paternity leave procedure

These changes took effect on 8th March 2024, but they apply where the expected week of childbirth is after 6th April 2024. Here’s what you need to know…
Employees will be entitled to split their two-week paternity leave policy into two one-week blocks, and in addition to this, they can take it at any point within 52 weeks of the child’s birth rather than only within the first eight weeks.
When someone wishes to take paternity leave under the new procedure, an employee needs to give an employer notice of entitlement, along with a written declaration that they meet the eligibility requirements to take paternity leave, at least 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.
On top of this, they must provide further notice – period-of-leave notice – specifying when they wish to start their paternity leave, along with a written declaration that the leave they would like to take will be used to care for a child or support the child’s mother. For a birth child, this period-of-leave notice needs to be given to the employer at least 28 days before each period of leave is due to start. Similar rule changes extend to paternity leave for adoption situations where the expected date of placement is on or after 6th April 2024.

Rising redundancy pay

From 6th April, new limits on employment statutory redundancy pay will be enforced, meaning that an employer who makes an employee redundant must pay someone with two years’ service an amount based on their weekly pay, age and length of service.
All calculations for statutory redundancy payments from 6th April 2024 must be made on the basis of a new maximum amount of £700 per week (increasing from £643).
Do any relevant policies in your business reflect this?

Introducing carer’s leave

6th April 2024 marks the introduction of a whole new type of leave – carer’s leave. Employees who have caring responsibilities for dependants with long-term care needs will be entitled to one week’s unpaid leave in every rolling 12-month period.
As an employer, you will need to introduce a process for employees who meet the legislative definition of a carer to be able to take carer’s leave.
Be sure to incorporate carer's leave into your family-friendly policies and procedures, and ensure that any eligible employees within your organisation are aware of their new right – additionally, ensure that line managers are trained on the subject as that way, you can ensure a consistent approach across the organisation, and reduce the risk of management errors being made when handling carer’s leave requests.

Reforming flexible working requests

6th April is also the day when significant changes to the procedure around flexible working requests will be implemented. From this date, it’ll be a day-one right to request flexible working, and employees will have the right to make two requests in a 12-month period rather than one.
On top of this, when making a request, an employee will no longer be required to explain what effect, if any, their request would have on you as their employer and how that might be dealt with. Employers will have to deal with the request within two months rather than three, and there will be an obligation for the employer to consult with the employee before rejecting a request.
Now is the time to review your flexible working policies, ensuring that they reflect the new requirements, and train managers on how to handle these new flexible working requests.

Additional redundancy protection

There is already redundancy protection in place for employees on maternity leave, adoption leave and shared parental leave, with them having the right to be offered any suitable alternative vacancy in a redundancy situation. But it’s about to get more comprehensive than that.
From 6th April 2024, additional redundancy protection will come into play to cover employees who are pregnant but have not yet gone on maternity leave, those who have recently returned to work from maternity leave, and those who have recently returned from adoption leave or six weeks or more shared parental leave.
In order to comply with this updated legislation, ensure that your redundancy process takes account of the extended protection period that applies to employees who are pregnant or who have recently returned to work from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.

Increased statutory sick pay and family-related pay

On 6th April 2024, the weekly rate of statutory sick pay increases from £109.40 to £116.75.
On the first Sunday in April, which in 2024 is 6th, weekly rates for statutory maternity, adoption, paternity, shared parental and parental bereavement pay are also increasing to £184.03, up from £172.48.
As an employer, you need to make sure that staff on maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental and parental bereavement leave, and staff on sick leave, are paid these statutory minimum rates from the applicable dates. You also need to ensure that all your relevant policies and procedures reflect the amended rates.

These changes are fast-approaching

If you have any questions about any of these employment law changes, if you’d like to learn more details surrounding any particular change, or if you need a hand with the required policy amendments and alterations in procedure within your business, speak to a member of the team here at Warwick HR and we’ll help you get ready for all April’s got to throw at you.

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