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Employment law shake-up: 6 changes to the rules

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If you’re an employer in the industry, you’re probably already aware of the statutory wage increases that came into effect on Monday. However, that’s not the only thing changing in 2024. Here are 6 lesser-known updates to UK employment law to ensure you stay informed about your employees’ rights.

(1) Holiday pay calculations

In the dog care industry, where working hours can vary, there is now a new way to calculate holiday pay for any staff that work variable hours for you. Instead of looking at just the last 3 months of hours worked to decide how much someone gets paid when they take a holiday, you now have to look at the whole of the previous 12 months. This makes sure employees get holiday pay that really matches what they usually earn. Plus, all of your full-time workers continue to be entitled to at least 28 days of paid holiday each year, with your part-time staff’s allowance being adjusted pro-rata if they work less than 5 days a week. Those 28 days can continue to include Bank Holidays.

(2) Annual leave carryover rules 

. Staff on maternity or family-related leave are entitled to carry forward up to 28 days of unused leave.

. Workers who are off sick for the whole year can carry over up to 20 days; those with irregular hours or who don’t work the entire year can carry over up to 28 days, which must be used within 18 months.

. You must allow full carryover for employees on family leave.

. Leave can also be carried over if you deny leave rights, fail to provide opportunities for leave, or don’t inform staff about the potential loss of untaken leave.

. Under these circumstances, regular workers may carry over 20 days, while irregular or part-year workers can carry over their full entitlement.

. You can allow your employees to carry over up to 8 days with your agreement.

. If a member of staff is entitled to more than 28 days’ leave, you may permit them to carry over additional days, based on your company’s policy.

(3) Carer’s leave: 

Your staff now have the right to request up to one week of unpaid leave per year to care for a dependent with long-term needs. New workers can take leave from day one of employment, as long as they give notice ahead of time. You can delay leave if it disrupts business, but it must be permitted within a month. Employees are not required to provide evidence for the request and are protected from negative consequences for taking leave.

(4) Strengthened redundancy protections

Starting from April 6, a new law expands job protection during redundancies to pregnant employees and those coming back from long-term family leave (like maternity, adoption, or statutory parental leave over six weeks). This protection lasts 18 months after childbirth/adoption, no matter how much leave the employee takes.

(5) Flexible working hours

Under the new legislation, your staff have the right to request flexible working arrangements right from the start. This means your team can ask to change their work hours or location as soon as they begin working with you. While you do not have to approve every request, you are now required to consider them fairly and respond within three months. If making changes isn’t feasible for your business —perhaps due to cost or scheduling constraints—you can decline, but it’s essential to provide a clear explanation.

(6) Paternity leave

Expectant fathers on your payroll will be pleased to hear that statutory paternity leave has become more flexible. They can now take leave in two separate one-week blocks anytime within the first year after birth or adoption. They are required to provide 28 days’ notice of their leave intention (or seven days after being matched in adoption cases). Additionally, employees still need to give notice of their entitlement to take leave 15 weeks before the expected week of birth.

Disclaimer: This content is informational and not a substitute for legal advice. Consult a legal professional for specific guidance.

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