Employment legislation changes – April 2024 and beyond

It’s that time of year when we consider forthcoming employment legislation changes from April 2024. Being aware of the changes ensures you can prepare for them and protect your business from any legal claims. Here’s a rundown of the changes.

Payroll costs – National Minimum Wage rates

Inflation continues to be a key issue for many employers who are facing pressure to increase wages.  Whilst there is no legal requirement to increase pay to address issues with high inflation rates, the National Minimum Wage/living rates are going up on 1 April 2024, therefore if your pay is based on minimum wage rates per hour, you will need to implement these changes:


Age group Up to 31/3/2024 From 1/4/2024
21 and over £10.18 (£10.42 for 23+) £11.44
18 – 20 £7.49 £8.60
Apprentices under 19 (or over 19 but in year 1 of apprenticeship) and under 18s £5.28 £6.40
Statutory pay rates – From April 2024
Family friendly leave

The rates of Statutory Maternity, Adoption, Paternity, Shared Parental and Parental Bereavement pay will increase to £184.03 per week.

Statutory Sick pay

The rate of Statutory Sick Pay will increase to £116.75 per week.

Statutory redundancy payments

With effect from 6th April 2023, the statutory redundancy pay cap will increase to £700 per week. It’s important to ensure you get up to date compensation information for anyone who leaves due to redundancy on or after this date. You will need to calculate their redundancy pay on the new rate.  If the redundant employee’s normal weekly rate is under the new figure, you should calculate their redundancy compensation based on their actual weekly pay rate.

Rolled-up holiday pay

With effect from the holiday year starting in April 2024 and thereafter, workers who work irregular or part year hours can have their holiday pay rolled in to their pay, rather than accruing actual holiday which has to be taken as leave.  The method of calculating the holiday pay will be 12.07%. Employers should note this only applies to those employees who work irregular or part-year hours. Other employees with set hours (either part or full-time) will accrue paid holiday which must be taken as paid time off.

Flexible Working Requests

With effect from 6th April 2024, employees will be able to make a flexible working request from day one of their employment, removing the current 26 weeks’ service requirement.  Employees will be able to make two requests a year (currently only one request is possible) and they will no longer be required to set out the likely effects on the business of the change.  Employers will be compelled to consult with the employee before rejecting a request and the time allowed for the whole process, including appeal, will be reduced from three to two months.

Statutory Carer’s Leave

Statutory Carer’s Leave will give carers a minimum of one week’s unpaid leave per year to care for a dependant with a long-term care needs, from day one of their employment.

This will be a day one right for employees and is flexible, however it’s likely advance notice will need to be provided, and it may be possible to postpone requests in a similar way to Unpaid Parental Leave.

This right will be in place from 6th April 2024.

Paternity Leave

An amendment to the entitlement for fathers and partners to take Paternity Leave has recently been proposed.  If approved fathers and partners will be able to take their Paternity Leave in two split weeks, should they wish, and the timeframe for taking the leave will be extended from 56 days after the birth, to 12 months after the birth, offering more flexibility to new parents.

This amendment will be effective for babies born or children adopted on or after 6th April 2024.

Redundancy Protection for Pregnancy and Family Leave

This protection extends the right to be redeployed during pregnancy (including if a miscarriage is suffered), maternity and family leave for 18 months after the start of that leave. These are important considerations during an employee’s family/maternity leave and in restructuring or redundancy exercises.  Employers who breach this protection will risk claims for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination (with uncapped compensation).

This new protection will be in place from April 2024.

Upcoming changes to be confirmed

2024 is potentially going to be another busy year for changes in employment law.  This is a summary of what may be in the pipeline when it comes to employment legislation changes from April 2024.  In some cases there are no firm dates for implementation however, it pays to be ahead of the changes and consider how they may affect you and your business in advance of the bills being passed in to law.

Employment Allocation of Tips Act

This ban will make it unlawful for employers to withhold tips from staff.  In addition, employers must also have a written policy related to tip allocation in place.  This will apply to tips, gratuities and service charges given during the previous month.

This is expected to be in place from July 2024.

Statutory Neonatal Care Leave

This statutory leave will allow parents whose babies need hospital neonatal care to take 12 weeks’ paid leave. This is in addition to their statutory maternity, shared parental or paternity leave. The right will:

  • be available from day one of employment;
  • apply to parents with babies who are admitted to hospital before they are 28 days old;
  • apply to babies who need to stay in hospital for 7 days continuously or more.

This is expected to be in place from April 2025.

Right to request more predictable working patterns

Employees and workers (including agency and zero hours workers) will have the right to formally request a more stable working pattern.  In addition, this right will also be available to those on fixed-term contracts of less than a year.  This right will apply after 26 weeks of continuous employment.

Employers will only be able to refuse requests  if there is a legal reason for refusing the request.

This is expected to be in place ‘in due course’.

Proactive duty to prevent sexual harassment

This will require employers to have proactive measures in place to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.  As a result employers will be legally responsible if no measures are in place.  And that responsibility applies, regardless of whether or not an incident has occurred. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in increased compensation of up to 25%.

This is expected to be in place from October 2024.

Pensions (Extension of Automatic Enrolment) Act 2023

This Act brings in changes to the Automatic Enrolment populations and employers who use Qualifying Earnings to calculate contributions:

  • Lowering the age criteria for auto-enrolment from 22 to 18 years of age
  • Removing the Lower Earnings Limit of £6,240 if you’re using qualifying earnings

There is no indication at this point when this change will come in to effect.

If you’re concerned about what these employment legislation changes from April 2024 mean for your business and need help reviewing your policies, please get in touch with Helpful HR.


The Covid-19 pandemic had an undeniable impact on everyone’s lives.  During that time, the requirement to work flexibly created a new landscape, which employers are still having to navigate.

For some employees, that switch to remote, flexible working appears to have resulted in the ‘always-on’ phenomenon. There’s no real boundary between work time and personal time. This means that employees can work around other personal commitments or activities, if they wish. However some people find it difficult to switch off, in some cases leading to a culture of presenteeism.

What is Presenteeism?

The CIPD states that presenteeism occurs when people work when in suboptimal health.  Your employees are attending work when they are unwell, and are therefore unable to be productive.  Absenteeism has a huge cost implication for employers.  But interestingly, the CIPD also reports that presenteeism has a much bigger cost (according to research by Deloitte).

Why is it a problem?

Unless addressed, presenteeism can lead to a culture where presence indicates commitment and success. I.e., if you turn up early and leave late you’re doing a great job, you will be more valued, and potentially rewarded accordingly.  What it doesn’t do is lead to an increase in productivity and it can cause a toxic culture. These things will drive away talent, further decreasing productivity.

There are also other effects, for example:

  • Employees come to the workplace with contagious illnesses, which spread through the workforce, increasing absence and / or presenteeism.
  • Employees won’t take the rest from work they need to recover, therefore stay unwell for longer, or their health deteriorates further.
  • Employees working while unwell will understandably demonstrate less enthusiasm and motivation, leading to low morale. This low morale may be contagious within the workforce, even in your healthy employees.
  • Depending on the sector, employees who are unwell are more likely to have workplace accidents, putting themselves and others at risk.
  • Presenteeism means that employees aren’t giving their full commitment to their work, and therefore will not progress and develop, which may lead to further demotivation and disengagement.
  • The quality of work produced is less likely to be as high as it might otherwise be, if the employee was healthy. This may have a knock-on effect on colleagues, for example causing frustration, or blockages and delays in systems and processes.
What can you do about it in your business?

Leaders need to be proactive in changing the narrative about the behaviours that are valued in their business. They need to move away from a ‘bums on seats’ approach (i.e. presenteeism), and instead focus on outputs and achievements. One of the first things they can do is lead by example. Create those work and home time boundaries. For example, only respond to emails during working hours, or as close as you can get (unless it’s business critical). Encourage employees to leave work, or if remote, switch off at the end of their contracted hours.

Tips to reduce presenteeism
  • Find out why people are behaving this way, either through focus groups or an anonymous survey, and find out about their concerns around taking time off ill, and blurred work / home boundaries.
  • Look at your sickness absence policy. Will employees suffer significantly financially every time they take a day off sick?  Do you have a fair sickness absence review policy which is consistent, reasonable and supportive?  And if you make changes to your policy, ensure these changes are communicated. Create clear messaging that supports taking time off if it’s needed, so people can fully recover and then return to work.
  • Consider what you could do to promote a healthy working environment that supports mental and physical wellbeing.  For example discounted gym membership, walking meetings, cycle to work schemes, wellbeing apps, mental health first aiders and training for all employees.
  • If you use zero hours contracts, consider if this is a factor. Review your resourcing model to establish if you could reduce these and create more stability for your workforce.
  • Improve manager / staff communication, so that managers are familiar with their employees and have positive working relationships. Employees may then feel the can share any health concerns with confidence, and managers will spot warning signs of any health or wellness issues.

If you’ve noticed your employees seem to be working when they are clearly unwell, and you want to find out why, or need support to change those habits, get in touch.

Mental Health Awareness

Mental Health Awareness week in the UK is an initiative introduced by the Mental Health Foundation.  In 2023, Mental Health Awareness week is from 15-21st May and the theme this year is Anxiety.

Anxiety can affect people both physically and mentally. People may experience different symptoms, including increased heart rate, headaches and chest pains.  It can cause people to feel tense or nervous, making it hard to relax and detrimentally affect sleep and concentration.

Mental health is something everyone has, like physical health, and they are connected – you will have noticed physical symptoms of anxiety described above.  Equally, those experiencing physical health problems can experience declining mental health as a result.

Mental health at work

Your employees’ mental health problems have a big potential impact at work, for example:

  • Increased absence from work
  • Lack of concentration leading to reduced productivity
  • Increased accidents at work due to lack of attention
  • Increased attrition rates
  • Poor morale and low-esteem in the workforce

It is estimated that cost to employers of poor mental health at work cost £56 billion per year [1], consisting of:

  • absenteeism cost: £6.1 billion
  • presenteeism cost: £24.8-£27.6 billion
  • staff turnover cost £22.4 billion

So, if you consider the cost, investing in ways to support good mental health at work seems to be a ‘no-brainer’.

Promoting good mental health at work

Businesses can take small steps to support their employees’ mental health. Here are some ideas:

  1. Talk to people in your team and get to know them, so you can notice any changes in their behaviour and demeanour.
  2. In your regular 1-1s with your team, ask them how they’re feeling, if they have any worries or concerns, and respond constructively. Normalise that kind of conversation.
  3. Encourage your staff to ‘switch off’ out of work, especially when it comes to accessing and responding to emails outside of working hours.
  4. When addressing issues with your staff, make sure you deliver difficult messages in a kind and supportive way.
  5. Consider introducing an Employee Assistance Programme which offers a confidential counselling support service.
  6. If you operate as a remote business, think about introducing more face-to-face interactions with your team, or alternatively review the frequency of video / phone calls.
  7. Encourage employees to take physical exercise, whether lunchtime walking or yoga, walking meetings, sponsored challenges, subsidised gym membership, volunteering days or competitive ‘step challenges’ between teams.
  8. Introduce a ‘buddy’ system, where a colleague is allocated to an employee as an additional support. This provides another way for them to flag concerns.
  9. Train some employees as Mental Health First Aiders, and provide regular training about mental health to all employees and managers.
  10. Ensure your managers are meeting their team members regularly and providing feedback to them, not just via an annual appraisal system.

Mental Health problems affect one in four people in any given year [2] so if you have a team of 12 people, 3 of them may be struggling.  If those three employees are absent as a result, then that could have a big impact on your business.

If you would like help with supporting the mental health of your employees, get in touch here.


1 – Source: Deloitte | March 2022

2 – Source: Mind.org.uk

5 tips for managing long-term sickness absence

Absence of more than 4 weeks is often defined as long-term sickness absence. In some cases an employee’s absence can continue month after month.  But how do employers manage this absence in a positive and pro-active way that benefits the business and the employee?

Here are 5 tips for managing long-term sickness absence:
  1. Make sure you have a sickness absence policy.  Any policy you have should include: absence notification requirements; sick pay applicable and what the qualifying criteria is; expectations regarding contact with the employee during sickness; an absence review process and how long-term absence will be dealt with.
  2. Introduce an Ill Health Capability procedure. This will enable you to manage an employee’s long-term absence through a fair and transparent process.
  3. Maintain regular communication with the employee.  Contrary to popular belief it is rarely appropriate to cease contact with an employee while they are off sick.  Limit this contact to business updates and enquiries regarding the employee’s health.  You should put no pressure on the employee to return or deal with work during their absence.  A supportive and empathetic approach should be taken, focussed on their wellbeing and what you can do to support them. This will support their ongoing engagement with the business and hopefully a productive return to work.
  4. Consider the steps you need to take to support the remainder of the team during the employee’s absence.  This will reduce any potential resentment about additional workload. The danger is that resentment builds and is directed at the absent employee, making their return to work difficult. Carry out regular check-ins with the team to enable you to address any issues they share.
  5.  Ensure you follow the policies you have in place correctly.  Put milestone dates in the diary to prompt actions under the policies and procedures to ensure you stay on track. For example: the date the current fit note expires; next planned contact date and why; when Company and Statutory sick pay expires, and the stages of the Ill Health Capability procedure.

Although every situation is different, you will be best placed for success if you have these basics in place.   The worst-case scenario is that you get it wrong and receive an employment tribunal claim against you alleging disability discrimination.  In addition to this, the employee may be disengaged even if they do return, therefore they are unlikely to be productive.  The alternative is that they ‘disappear into the ether’, making it difficult to resolve the situation one way or another.

Helpful HR can support you if you have an employee absent from work due to long-term sickness, so get in touch and we can get you on track and limit the risk of a costly employment tribunal claim.