April brings a number of large scale changes to employment legislation, here is an overview of what to expect…

Flexible Working Reform

The anticipated changes to the right to request flexible working will finally come in to force from 6 of April 2024.

Under these reforms:

The right to request flexible working will become a ‘day one’ right, removing the requirement for an employee to have 26 weeks service.
Employees will no longer have to explain what effect their requested change may have on the employer and how any such effect might be dealt with.
Employees will be entitled to make two requests (instead of one) in any 12-month period.
Employers will not be able to refuse a request unless the employee has been consulted.
Employers will have to make a decision in two months (reduced from three months), subject to agreeing a longer decision period.

Carer’s Leave Regulations

The Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024 were made on 28 February 2024 and will come into force on 6 April 2024.

This introduces a new entitlement of one week’s unpaid leave per year for employees who are providing or arranging care for a dependant with a long-term care need.

The leave may be taken in either individual days or half days, up to a block of one week. The required notice period is either twice as many days as the period of leave required, or three days, whichever is the greater. The notice does not need to be in writing and an employer cannot require evidence in relation to the request before granting the leave. An employer may waive the notice requirement where the other requirements of the regulations have been met.

An employer cannot decline a request altogether but may postpone carer’s leave where all of the following apply:

The employer reasonably considers that the operation of the business would be unduly disrupted if it allowed the leave during the requested period.

The employer allows the employee to take a period of carer’s leave of the same duration, within a month of the period initially requested.

The employer gives the employee a written notice within seven days of the initial request, setting out the reason for the postponement and the agreed dates on which the leave can be taken.

Where there is a contractual right to take carer’s leave, an employee will only be permitted to take advantage of whichever right is more favourable.


Changes to Statutory Paternity Leave and Pay

Changes to statutory paternity leave and pay apply to children whose expected week of childbirth is after 6 April 2024 and children whose expected date of placement for adoption is on or after 6 April 2024.

These include allowing fathers and partners to take paternity leave and pay in two non-consecutive blocks of one week, and at any point in the first year after birth or adoption. The notice periods required will also be shortened in most cases.

Redundancy protection extended for pregnant women and new parents

The Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024, extending the protected period during which certain employees are entitled to be offered suitable alternative vacancies in a redundancy situation, will come into force on the 6 April 2024.

This legislation extends the right to be offered suitable alternative vacancies in a redundancy situation so that it will apply during pregnancy and for a period after pregnancy or maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.


What Next?

As a result of these changes, we would highly recommend all employers take the time to review and update their employee practices and policies. At RT Advance Consulting we review and update employee contracts, handbooks and policies, all for a one-off fixed fee. Please contact us to find out more.