2024 was already shaping up to be a busy year for new employment law but with a general election in July, there could be even more legislative changes later in the year.

Important new statutory holiday rules were introduced on 1 January 2024. Some of those aim to restate the position on holiday carry-over and holiday pay calculations, based on earlier case law. Two new categories of worker were also created - irregular hours and part-year workers – and there are new rules for calculating holiday entitlement and pay for those workers for holiday years starting on or after 1 April 2024 (including the option of using rolled-up holiday pay).

On 1 April, the right to make a flexible working request became a 'day one' right (rather than requiring 26 weeks' continuous service) and employees can now make two requests in a 12-month period. The employer's response time has reduced from three to two months, and they must now consult with an employee before refusing a request.

Since 6 April, a new statutory right for employees to take one week's unpaid carer's leave in each rolling 12-month period 'to provide or arrange care for a dependant with a long-term care need' has been in force. Also, paternity leave can now be taken as two separate blocks of one week, anytime in the 52 weeks after birth or adoption. There is now increased protection for pregnant employees and those returning from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave, where if selected for redundancy, they must now be offered alternative employment if there is a suitable alternative.

From 1 July 2024 there will be new rules allowing employers to consult directly with employees about a transfer of employment under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations - where the business has fewer than 50 employees or the transfer involves less than 10 employees.

From October 2024, employers will have a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment and employment tribunals will be able to uplift compensation by up to 25% where the employer has breached that duty.

We were anticipating a number of further changes to be made later this year:

  • a new statutory Code of Practice on dismissal and re-engagement practices (often referred to as 'fire and rehire'). The Code will come into force on 18 July 2024 but it is not yet clear if legislation that would allow an employment tribunal to uplift or reduce compensation awards if the Code is not followed, will also come into force on that date;
  • a statutory Code of Practice on the fair and transparent distribution of tips was expected to come into force on 1 October 2024. If commencement regulations are passed, 'qualifying tips' will need to be allocated fairly between workers and paid by the end of the month that follows the month in which the tip was paid. A written policy on dealing with tips will need to be introduced and records of how qualifying tips have been allocated will need to be made and retained for three years.
  • a new right for qualifying workers and agency workers to request more predictable terms where there is a lack of predictability to their working pattern. The relevant legislation was expected to come into force in September 2024 but it is now not clear whether and when this will happen.

Employers will want to pay close attention to what the main political parties say about the changes they would make to the current employment law landscape as it could be that there will be yet more changes businesses will need to deal with later in the year.