Employment law changes from 6th April 2024

Flexible working

Post-pandemic, the demand for flexible working has grown exponentially. Employees want more flexibility in their working lives. In the current job market, employers are having to offer more than just competitive salaries to attract the best candidates. Enabling employees to fit work around their personal circumstances is key.

Flexible working means changing an employee’s terms and conditions in relation to:

  • How many hours they are required to work each week,
  • When their working hours are undertaken, and/ or
  • Where their work is done (i.e., when are they at home and in the office).


From 6th April 2024, the right to request flexible working starts from day 1 of employment. Previously, an employee had to have been employed for 6 months continuously to qualify for the right to request flexible working. This means that from the moment employment starts an employee can request to work flexibly. There is no longer a requirement for the employee to explain and justify the impact of the proposed change to their working arrangements. The request must be properly considered by their employer and dealt with within 2 months. The request can be declined on the same grounds as before. Beware of making a decision which is discriminatory in effect!

Although no employee has an absolute right to work flexibly, the change in regulations reflects the fact that flexibility has become central to the workplace and is now a fundamental part of the employment landscape. Are your policies up-to-date and in line with current job market demands?

Paternity leave

In response to the changing culture towards gender-equality and hoping to give new parents more flexibility than previously, the Government has introduced changes to paternity leave.

Previously, an employee can only choose to take 1 or 2 weeks of statutory paternity leave as one block and within the first 8-weeks of birth. From 6th April 2024, an employee can choose to take 1 or 2 weeks of statutory paternity leave as one block or as two separate, non-consecutive blocks of one week. This can be taken at any time within the first 52 weeks after birth. The notice period for providing the required information to your employer is reduced to 28 days.

Holiday pay

From 1st April 2024, the Harper v Brazel Supreme Court decision that ‘irregular hours’ and ‘part-year’ workers were entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday per year irrespective of the hours worked will be remedied. In the most extreme circumstances, an employee who only works one month each year could be entitled to 5.6 weeks’ further holiday pay each year. Further, any underpayments in holiday pay are likely to be brought as unauthorised deduction from wages claims, leaving employers vulnerable.

To remedy this unfairness the Working Time Regulation have been amended; part-year and irregular hours workers’ holiday entitlement will instead be calculated in hours, accruing on the last day of each pay period at a rate of 12.07% of hours worked in that pay period which is precisely what happened in practice prior to the Harper decision.

Forthcoming duty on employers to take steps to prevent sexual harassment

In 2023, the ONS found that 25% of people who had experienced sexual harassment had experienced this in their place of work.

The new Worker Protection Act, due to take effect from October 2024, creates a duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of their employees in the workplace. Previously, it was a defence to a harassment claim for an employer to show that they had taken all reasonable steps to prevent it from happening. This meant that although it was advisable to take steps to prevent harassment, there was no obligation to do so. This positive statutory obligation placed on employers is intended to drive long-term change in the attitudes and cultures surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers owe their employees a safe and respectful workplace and the new legislation reflects this. In real terms this will mean updating your Employee Handbooks to enshrine a zero tolerance approach and arranging training.

Are your policies up-to-date and fighting fit for the future?

Email employment@goughs.co.uk to arrange a meeting to discuss any imminent changes you need to be making to protect yourself and your business.

The information contained in the above article was correct at the time of publication. To ensure you are kept up to date with changes to employment law matters, click here to sign up to our dedicated employment database.

Learn more about Rebecca

All the articles above are written by our Partner & Head of Employment Rebecca Dennis. Rebecca’s professional background is unique in that she worked for more than 20 years as a barrister providing legal advice, drafting and advocacy for her clients and more recently provided specialist trouble-shooting services on employment law and employee relations at a leading international HR outsourcing company.

What Rebecca doesn’t know about Employment Law really isn’t worth knowing.

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