From as soon as 1 January 2024, the UK Government is implementing a wide range of new employment law that will affect organizations with UK operations. Below is a handy table summarizing key changes and start dates.

Some critical issues for employers include: (i) stronger workplace protections against sexual harassment; (ii) increased employee flexible working rights; (iii) new holiday pay rules; (iv) new employee rights to request predictable working terms; (v) rights for agency workers to request jobs at client companies; and (vi) changes to TUPE. 

  Name of new legislation  What will change? When will it happen?
        1.  The Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023 (Draft Statutory Instrument) – This will introduce “rolled-up” holiday pay and a new annual leave accrual method for irregular hours and part-year workers.
 
– The Regulations also retain EU law that allowed workers to carry-over annual leave when they are unable to take such leave due to being on statutory leave or sick leave and will introduce a method of accrual of annual leave for irregular workers and part-year workers that have been on statutory leave or sick leave.
 
– The Regulations will also introduce a change to TUPE, such that businesses with less than 50 employees will be able to consult directly with employees, if there are no employee representatives in place; for transfers of 10 employees or less, businesses of any size will be able to consult directly with employees, if there are no employee representatives in place. 
 Expected to be January 2024.
  2.    Carer’s Leave Act 2023 Any employee caring for a dependant with a long-term care need will be entitled to one week of flexible unpaid leave a year.  No implementation date announced yet; not expected before April 2024.
 3.  Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 – Currently, when employees make a flexible working request, they have to explain its effect on the employer and set out potential ways to deal with it. Under the new law this will no longer be required.
 
– Employees will also be able to make 2 flexible working requests in a 12-month period and the employer must make a decision within 2 months (rather than 3 months, as now). The Government has also stated that it intends to make this a day-one right through regulations alongside the Act – rather than the current 26 weeks’ continuous service which is required. 
 Expected to be July 2024.
        4. Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023–  Workers and agency workers with working patterns that lack certainty of hours or times they work, and those on a fixed-term contract of 12 months or less, will have the right to request more predictable terms and conditions of work. Such requests can be rejected on specified statutory grounds, but the process (including any appeal) must be completed within one month. Two applications can be made per employee/worker per year.
 
– Agency workers (with requisite minimum service) who have worked on the same role for 12 continuous calendar weeks can request to become an employee of the hirer i.e. to change status to become a permanent employee, or an employee on a longer fixed-term contract, of the ultimate client (not the employment agency). This may potentially impact companies regularly using large numbers of agency workers for medium-term or longer assignments.
 Expected to be September 2024.
       5. Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 Employers will have a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of employees at work. If the employer breaches this duty, employment tribunals will be able to increase compensation (which will be uncapped) by up to 25%.  Expected to be October 2024.
      6. Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 Employed parents whose children are admitted to neonatal care will be granted up to 12 weeks of paid neonatal care leave.  Expected to be April 2025.
       7. Protection from Sex-based Harassment in Public Act 2023 This will create a new criminal offence for intentional harassment, alarm or distress of a person in public, carried out to due to a person’s sex or presumed sex. A workplace may be a public place and employees could be criminally liable for sexual harassment at work.  No implementation date announced yet.
       8. Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 – Currently, in a redundancy situation employers need to offer employees on maternity leave a suitable alternative vacancy, where one exists.
 
– The new law will extend this protection to those on adoption or shared parental leave, as well as maternity leave, and extend the period of protection from the point the employee informs the employer that they are expecting a baby until 18 months after the birth.
 No implementation date announced yet.

Employers will need to review policies and procedures, and potentially employment and/or worker contracts, to assess what changes are required to comply with the new laws. New or enhanced processes may need to be put in place to manage risk. Insurance coverage may need to be strengthened. In particular, for companies who hire significant numbers of agency workers, the relationship with work agencies and their workers should be reviewed, and any current terms used reconsidered, in light of 4 above. 

We hope this alert will provide a useful reminder to ensure adequate provisions are in place to comply with the new laws once they come into effect. If you have any questions regarding the material discussed in this alert, please contact the members of our Employment and Employee Benefits practice. We are of course happy to provide additional guidance as needed.

Print:
Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
Photo of Chris Bracebridge Chris Bracebridge

Chris Bracebridge specialises in advising multinational employers on international employment and global mobility matters, including complex transactional issues and senior employee retention and termination arrangements. He co-heads a Global Workforce Solutions team providing the employment, benefits, tax and immigration advice required in these…

Chris Bracebridge specialises in advising multinational employers on international employment and global mobility matters, including complex transactional issues and senior employee retention and termination arrangements. He co-heads a Global Workforce Solutions team providing the employment, benefits, tax and immigration advice required in these complex situations. A keen advocate for increasing the diversity of the legal profession, Chris also leads the London office’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

Chris’ UK domestic practice comprises contentious, commercial and advisory employment experience. He advises on the HR aspects of company and business acquisitions and disposals, and outsourcing transactions, represents major employers in dismissal, discrimination, and whistle-blowing cases, and advises corporate clients on the full range of day-to-day employment issues (in particular, listed company executive departures), as well as data privacy and pensions matters.

Covington’s Employment team was shortlisted for three UK national awards in 2014/2015. Mr. Bracebridge was shortlisted for Assistant Solicitor of the Year 2009 by The Lawyer magazine. He has gained valuable in-house experience whilst on secondment to two global financial institutions – a major U.S. investment bank and a leading UK bank.

Chris regularly trains and presents to clients and external organizations and writes articles for both the legal press and client publications. He has spoken at events and conferences in the UK, U.S., and Europe on a range of issues such as global mobility, executive departures, redundancy, gender pay gap reporting, data protection and transfers of undertakings.

Photo of Antonio Michaelides Antonio Michaelides

Antonio Michaelides advises clients in heavily regulated sectors on a broad range of cross-border regulatory and compliance matters, with a particular focus on Europe and the Middle East. He has particular expertise in helping clients navigate international HR-legal compliance issues—including labor laws, international…

Antonio Michaelides advises clients in heavily regulated sectors on a broad range of cross-border regulatory and compliance matters, with a particular focus on Europe and the Middle East. He has particular expertise in helping clients navigate international HR-legal compliance issues—including labor laws, international equity compliance and immigration matters—and frequently helps multinationals find solutions to their most complex global employment and benefits challenges.

Photo of Helena Milner-Smith Helena Milner-Smith

Helena Milner-Smith helps companies navigate complex international HR-legal compliance issues.

Helena advises clients across a range of industries on all aspects of UK and international employment law, including the HR aspects of privacy compliance and human rights regulation.

Helena has particular expertise advising…

Helena Milner-Smith helps companies navigate complex international HR-legal compliance issues.

Helena advises clients across a range of industries on all aspects of UK and international employment law, including the HR aspects of privacy compliance and human rights regulation.

Helena has particular expertise advising on the HR-legal aspects of multi-jurisdictional transactions. She also regularly assists clients seeking to protect their business and increase international compliance by designing and implementing global policies, employment contracts and restrictive covenants.

Helena has been recognised by Legal 500 UK for her “exceptional service” and “responsive and practical” advice.

In addition, Helena has gained valuable in-house experience while on secondment at three large multinational corporations – a pharmaceutical company, an oil company and a leading investment bank

Photo of Hannah Edmonds-Camara Hannah Edmonds-Camara

Hannah Edmonds-Camara advises on a range of both international and domestic employment issues including drafting and implementation of policies and compliance programmes, international employment aspects of global transactions and contentious employment matters.

She also has particular expertise in helping businesses navigate the evolving…

Hannah Edmonds-Camara advises on a range of both international and domestic employment issues including drafting and implementation of policies and compliance programmes, international employment aspects of global transactions and contentious employment matters.

She also has particular expertise in helping businesses navigate the evolving global regulatory and best practice landscape surrounding the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. Her experience includes advising on: the development and implementation of global human rights due diligence and ethical sourcing compliance programmes, including in response to pressure from NGOs, investors and regulators; human rights due diligence in an M&A context; global risk assessments; transparency and reporting requirements; design of project-specific human rights frameworks and stakeholder engagement strategies; assessment of downstream human rights risk; and conflict minerals compliance.

Hannah gained valuable experience while on secondment to a large pharmaceutical client. She is a member of the firm’s Diversity Committee, Public Service (pro bono) Committee, and Africa Initiative.

Photo of Mark Welch Mark Welch

Mark Welch is an associate in the International Employment Practice Group, having joined the firm as a trainee solicitor in 2018. His practice covers a range of both UK and international employment issues including international employment aspects of global transactions, HR-legal compliance issues…

Mark Welch is an associate in the International Employment Practice Group, having joined the firm as a trainee solicitor in 2018. His practice covers a range of both UK and international employment issues including international employment aspects of global transactions, HR-legal compliance issues and contentious employment matters.

Mark also assists clients seeking to protect their business and increase international compliance through the drafting and implementation of employment contracts and internal policies. He has particular experience in relation to whistleblowing matters, both advising clients on whistleblower protections and requirements for compliance purposes and defending clients in contentious matters involving allegations based on protected disclosures.

Mark gained valuable experience while on secondment to a large pharmaceutical client. He is a member of the firm’s Diversity Committee.

Photo of Richard Rowlands Richard Rowlands

Richard Rowlands is an associate in the International Employment Practice Group, having joined the firm as a trainee solicitor in 2021. His practice covers a range of both UK and international employment issues including international employment aspects of global transactions, HR-legal compliance issues…

Richard Rowlands is an associate in the International Employment Practice Group, having joined the firm as a trainee solicitor in 2021. His practice covers a range of both UK and international employment issues including international employment aspects of global transactions, HR-legal compliance issues and contentious employment matters.

Richard assists clients seeking to protect their business and increase international compliance through the drafting and implementation of employment contracts and internal policies. He gained valuable experience while on secondment to a large pharmaceutical client.

Richard is committed to pro bono work. He has worked on a wide variety of matters, including those relating to charity, environmental and immigration law.

Richard is a co-founder and co-lead of the firm’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Book Club.

Photo of Emma Sawatzky Emma Sawatzky

Emma Sawatzky is an associate in the BHR, ESG, and Employment Practice Groups. Emma advises clients on a number of BHR-related matters, including: modern slavery statements; BHR-related investigations; human rights-related OECD proceedings; supply chain due diligence frameworks, human rights policies, supplier risk assessments…

Emma Sawatzky is an associate in the BHR, ESG, and Employment Practice Groups. Emma advises clients on a number of BHR-related matters, including: modern slavery statements; BHR-related investigations; human rights-related OECD proceedings; supply chain due diligence frameworks, human rights policies, supplier risk assessments, and supply chain tracing exercises. She has experience providing tailored advice to clients on ESG and BHR legal and regulatory developments in the UK, EU, and the MENA region.

Emma is a member of the firm’s Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Committee.