April brings change from an HR perspective: employers, are you ready?

26 April 2024

The second quarter of 2024 brings numerous employment law changes that will affect how employers need to manage their people. Here is a reminder of some of the most significant changes that will need to be actioned from an HR perspective in the coming months. 

Starting from 6 April 2024, three key pieces of legislation will come into effect.

  1. Employment Rights (Flexible Working) Act 2023.
  2. Carer’s Leave Act 2023.
  3. Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023.

Employment Rights (Flexible Working) Act 2023

This new legislation allows any employee to request flexible working from their first day in an organisation. Employers must be prepared to consider requests from new employees as soon as they join, rather than 26 weeks later. We recommend reviewing each role before the recruitment campaign starts so that requests can be dealt with fairly from day one.

Employers can still decline a request using one of the prescribed reasons. However, employees will not need to wait a full year before asking for flexible working again. From 6 April 2024, employees will be able to ask for flexible working twice per year. Employers will need to be ready to respond more quickly from this date as the new legislation requires them to respond in two months, not three, from the start to the finish of the request (including any appeal). 

Employees will no longer have to explain how they think their flexible working request could be accommodated. Instead, employers will need to consider why the request is unworkable from their perspective and explain their reasoning to the individual. Managers will need support and training to ensure the correct processes are followed. HR documentation must also be updated to reflect the changes.

Carer’s Leave Act 2023

From 6 April 2024, carer’s leave will be provided to employees with caring responsibilities. Employees will be able to request unpaid leave so they can care for their dependents. Leave does not have to be paid but it is available from day one of employment. Employers will need to accommodate this, or they can choose to postpone the leave if business operations would be disrupted. Employees have the right to one week’s unpaid leave per year. Whilst the impact of this legislation is likely to be less than others, it’s crucial that managers are aware of it so they can handle requests fairly when they arise. Again, HR documentation must also be updated to reflect the changes.

Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023

April also brings new and enhanced protections from redundancy for those who are pregnant or returning from family leave. It’s important that those making redundancy decisions are aware of the increased protections. Redundancy is never easy for business leaders to take, and stress levels can be high. Managers will need support and training to ensure the correct processes are followed so those with priority status are treated fairly. HR documentation may need to be updated to reflect the changes.

For a conversation around any of the above topics or for a review of your HR documentation, please get in touch with Kerri Constable from the HR Consulting team.