Navigating the many changes in UK Employment Laws: A crucial task for HR managers and businesses

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For HR managers and businesses alike, keeping abreast of employment law changes isn't just advisable—it's imperative.

As the legislative landscape evolves, understanding and complying with employment laws not only ensures legal adherence but also fosters a healthy and productive work environment.

Here, Banner Jones’ Employment Law expert, Katie Ash, provides some insight into the latest changes, and why awareness of everchanging Employment Laws is essential for businesses.

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Firstly, let's delve into why this awareness is essential and how it impacts the realm of human resources and business operations. Legal compliance, protection of employee rights, mitigation of risk and competitive advantage are all key objectives when it comes to being across employment law changes.

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For example, the UK boasts a robust framework of legislation governing various aspects of employment and failing to comply with these laws can result in costly penalties, litigation, and reputational damage for businesses.

Likewise, employment laws exist to safeguard the rights and well-being of workers, and HR managers play a pivotal role in ensuring that these rights are respected within the workplace.

Furthermore ignorance of employment laws exposes businesses to various risks, and changes in legislation can introduce new liabilities or alter existing obligations for employers. By proactively monitoring legal developments, businesses can identify potential risks early on and take appropriate measures to mitigate them.

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Not to mention that demonstrating a commitment to ethical and lawful employment practices can attract high-calibre candidates.

So, what recent Employment Law regulation changes have we seen that businesses need to be aware of?

Every year we see a raft of new regulation changes, and 2024 was no exception with the following having come into effect in April in England and Wales:

The changes see eligibility for the national living wage (NLW) extended as the age at which entitlement to the highest rate reduces from those aged 23 and over, to 21 and over. The hourly rate has increased from £10.42 to £11.44 (9.8%), with workers aged between 18 and 20 getting an even bigger boost of 14.8% (£7.49 an hour to £8.60).

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The Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 have now come into force, bringing with them changes which see fathers or partners of children born or adopted after 6th April 2024 being able to take their paternity leave entitlement in 2 blocks of one week within the first year of the birth or adoption of their child.

The Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024 came in to effect on 6th April 2024 and offer a day-one right for employees to be absent from work to provide or arrange care for a dependant with a long-term care need.

Employees can apply for up to one week’s unpaid leave in any rolling 12-month period, and leave can be consecutive or non-consecutive, half-days or full days.

The new Regulations give pregnant employees and those on maternity leave or family-related leave better protection from redundancy. From the 6 April 2024, the new Regulations extend the priority status to pregnant employees and those who have recently returned from maternity leave, Shared Parental Leave (SPL) or adoption leave too.

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The Government has created a new system of holiday accrual and holiday pay for part-year and irregular hour workers.

For holiday years starting on or after 1 April 2024, holiday rights for part-year or irregular hours workers will no longer come from Regulation 13 and Regulation 13A of the Working Time Regulations 1998. Instead, their rights will be set out in new Regulation 15B of the Working Time Regulations 1998.

To accompany the legislative changes, the Government also issued Holiday Pay guidance.

In conclusion, the ever-changing nature of UK employment laws underscores the critical importance of awareness and vigilance on the part of HR managers and businesses.

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Business leaders and HR managers who have questions surrounding these regulation changes, or who need help with drafting or re-negotiating employment contracts, should seek legal advice.

The Banner Jones Employment Law team can be contacted at [email protected], with the firm also offering its Employer Protect service.