Employment law update: June 2024

Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Act 2024

Aaron Horsey found himself without the right to parental or paternity leave after his wife died while giving birth to their son in 2022 because he had been working for his company for less than nine-months. Horsey, who became the sole carer for his newborn son, began campaigning to address the deficiencies and uncertainties in the law and provide grieving father’s and partners with the automatic right for time to care for their children in the most devastating of circumstances.

As part of the Parliamentary mop up prior to the General Election, the Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Act 2024 was given royal assent on 24 May 2024. The Act removes the 26-week minimum service requirement, making paternity leave a day one right for bereaved fathers and non-birthing partners, in cases where a mother, or a person with whom a child is placed or expected to be placed for adoption, dies.

Job redesign was a repudiatory breach of contract – McCormack v Medivet Group [2024] EWHC 1000 (Comm)

In Medivet, the employee had a contractual flexibility clause which entitled Medivet to appoint other persons to act jointly with them in their office, or to change their executive office or responsibilities as it shall think fit. The employee was moved from a COO role to a clinical role with no revenue or line management responsibility. Her responsibility for pricing, procurement, facilities, field operations, practice development and integration were all allocated to another employee. This was a in fact not an exercise of a contractual flexibility clause but a repudiatory breach of contract. Remember that the power conferred by such a clause, and which power is being ostensibly used to an employee’s disadvantage, must be exercised honestly, rationally and in the interests of good management. Ultimately, a flexibility clause like this cannot simply be used to require an employee to take on a new job role. There was no rational basis for the employer’s unilateral decision and which was made without proper consideration of the broader business reorganisation. What do your flexibility clauses say and what do they allow you to achieve?

What does a Labour government plan to do for employment law?

The Labour paper ‘Plan to Make Work Pay’ has revealed significant plans to reform employment law. The proposals are widespread with the stated aim to ‘back working people to take their voice back, improve their terms and conditions and ensuring protections at work are fit for the world today.’ Items on the agenda include represent an expansion of existing rights. They include a ban on those zero hours contracts which are ‘exploitative’ and to replace then with contracts for certain hours based on a 12 week reference period and allowing ‘basic individual rights’ for all workers as Day 1 rights. It is impossible to know what the fine detail will look like when presented in the planned Employment Rights Bill. Be prepared for qualifying periods in relation to the right not to be unfairly dismissed and maternity and paternity rights to change! Watch this space.

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.

Other Employment News Bulletins

Let us search for you