HomeInsightsEmployment & Immigration Law – what’s on the horizon?

Key legislation

Key points

The Act will allow for the extension of existing redundancy protections while on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave to also cover pregnancy and a period of time after a new parent has returned to work.

Date of entry into force

The Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 will come into force on 6 April 2024.

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The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill received Royal Asset on 26 October 2023. The Act will change and expand the existing anti-harassment provisions currently contained within the Equality Act 2010. In particular, it will introduce a proactive duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

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The government has responded to two recent employment law reform consultations and published a draft statutory instrument to implement the proposed changes. The reforms focus on: (1) simplifying holiday pay calculations and permitting ‘rolled-up’ holiday pay for those working irregular hours and/or part of the year; (2) reducing the record keeping requirements under the Working Time Regulations 1998; and (3) simplifying the consultation requirements under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006.

The record keeping and TUPE reforms came  into force on 1 January 2024, although the provisions related to percentage accrual of holiday and rolled-up holiday pay being permitted for irregular hours and part-year workers for holiday years will come into force for holiday years commencing from 1 April 2024 onwards. For those interested, we’ve recently published a standalone blog on some of the potential practical implications of this proposed legislation.

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Key points

The Bill is set to change and expand the existing anti-harassment provisions. In particular, it will introduce a proactive duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

Date of entry into force

October 2024. A new statutory code is expected from the EHRC before then.

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Key points

The Act will create a new statutory entitlement to one week of flexible unpaid leave per year for employees who are caring or arranging care for a dependant with a long-term care need.

Date of entry into force

The Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024, which will introduce the new statutory right to one week’s unpaid carer’s leave a year, will come into force on 6 April 2024.

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Key points

The Act changes the current flexible working regime in the following ways:

  • When making a request, employees will no longer have to explain what effect (if any) they think their requested change would have on their employer and how such effect might be dealt with.
  • Employees will be able to make two flexible working requests, rather than one, in any 12-month period.
  • The time for an employer to make a decision will be reduced from three months to two months (if no extension is agreed).
  • Employers will not be able to refuse a request until they have ‘consulted’ with the employee (although there is no requirement of what that ‘consultation’ needs to include).

Date of entry into force

Expected July 2024.

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Key points

Under the new regulations, statutory paternity leave will change in the following ways:

  • Employees can take their paternity leave at any point during the first year after the birth, rather than during the first eight weeks;
  • Leave can be split into two one-week blocks, instead of being two weeks consecutively;
  • Employees will now only need to give 28 days’ notice of their intended leave dates; and
  • Employees will need to explicitly declare both their eligibility and the legitimate purpose of their leave.

Date of entry into force

The Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 will come into force on 6 April 2024.

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Key points

The Act will allow eligible employed parents whose new-born baby is admitted to neonatal care to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave. This is in addition to other leave and pay entitlements such as maternity and paternity.

Date of entry into force

Expected April 2025.

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Key points

The government has confirmed that it will introduce a statutory limit on the length of non-compete clauses of 3 months and will bring forward legislation to introduce the statutory limit “when parliamentary time allows“.

Date of entry into force

TBC.

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Key Points

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill received Royal Asset on 19 September 2023. The Act will amend the Employment Rights Act 1996 to give workers and agency workers the right to apply for a predictable work pattern.

Two applications may be made within a 12-month period, and applications may be rejected on statutory grounds. A minimum service requirement to access the right, expected to be 26 weeks, will be specified. Workers will be able to make claims based on procedural failings by their employer, unlawful detriment and automatic unfair dismissal.

Date of entry into force

September 2024. The Act and secondary legislation are expected to come into force approximately one year after Royal Assent so that employers have time to prepare.

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Key Points

The Pensions (Extension of Automatic Enrolment) (No 2) Bill 2023 received Royal Assent, on 18 September 2023. The Act will amend the Pensions Act 2008 to implement two key recommendations made by the Department of Work and Pensions in their 2017 independent review of auto-enrolment. Regulation-making power will be introduced to: (i) reduce the lower age threshold for auto-enrolment; and (ii) reduce or repeal the amount of the lower limit of the qualifying earnings band.

Date of entry into force

The substantive provisions of the Act will come into force on a day appointed in a statutory instrument made by the Secretary of State. Therefore, it is not possible to provide a timescale for implementation.

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Key cases

Key points

The EAT upheld an appeal against an employment tribunal’s decision that a Christian employee was not directly discriminated against or harassed because of her protected beliefs, including that gender cannot be fluid and that an individual cannot change their biological sex or gender.

The EAT outlined several helpful overarching principles for employers regarding what to consider when attempting to restrict an employee’s freedom to express their beliefs while at work. It remains to be seen whether this guidance will be altered by the Court of Appeal.

Decision expected

Due to be heard by the Court of Appeal on 7 October 2024.

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Key points

The Court of Appeal made a significant ruling by overturning an injunction which prohibited Tesco from employing the controversial tactic of “fire-and-rehire” to retract a historical collectively agreed contractual benefit. Notably, this benefit had been explicitly stated to be “permanent” and “guaranteed for life” in prior agreements.

Decision expected

Due to be heard by the Supreme Court on 23 and 24 April 2024.

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Key consultations

The consultation on a new draft Code of Practice restricting “fire and rehire” practices closed on 18 April 2023. A response to the consultation will be published in Spring 2024.

The Government has announced its plan to consult on reforms to fit notes as part of changes to the welfare system for those with long-term health conditions, disabilities or long-term unemployment.

The Government has launched a consultation of draft regulations and guidance under the Seafarers’ Wages Act 2023. The consultation closed on 11 December 2023. A response to the consultation will be published in due course.

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