10 key employment law developments – Summer 2024

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In this insight we summarise some recent key developments in employment legislation and immigration law that employers should be aware of. You can download the full update here.

1. Changes to a week’s pay, compensation limits and National Minimum Wage bands and rates

From 6 April 2024 the annual increase to rates and limits took effect. A “week’s pay” increased by 8.9% (in line with the RPI rate) from £643 to £700. This change means that the maximum basic award or statutory redundancy entitlement increased from £19,290 to £21,000.

The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal increased from £105,707 to £115,115.

Currently the ‘top rate’ referred to as the National Living Wage applies to employees aged 23 and over but from 1 April 2024 this top rate has been extended to apply to workers who are aged 21 and over. 

2. Updated Draft Code of Practice on Dismissal and Re-engagement

An updated version of the Draft Statutory Code of Practice on Dismissal and Re-engagement (also referred to as “fire and rehire”), was published by the Government in February 2024 along with its response to the consultations on the same, which ran from January to April 2023.

“Fire and rehire” is the practice which involves an employer introducing a change to employees’ contractual terms by terminating their employment contract (on notice) and at the same time giving them the option to be re-engaged on different and generally less favourable terms, but if the employee refuses, then their employment will cease at the end of their notice period.

Whilst lawful, this practice is increasingly controversial and it was brought into the spotlight in 2022 when P&O dismissed around 800 UK-based employees without consultation and replaced them with cheaper agency workers. Since then, the Government has promised measures to seek to restrict the practice, and the updated Code of Practice is the result.

3. Predictable hours requests

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 creates a new statutory right for workers and agency workers to request a more predictable working pattern in relation to when and where they carry out work and is expected to come into force in September 2024.

This will apply to working arrangements that lack predictability such as zero hours contracts. It is presumed that workers on a fixed-term contract of less than 12 months will be able to make a request under this legislation. Additional legislation introducing this right for agency workers is also expected.

4. Reintroducing Employment Tribunal fees?

On 29 January 2024, the Government published a consultation paper on proposals to reintroduce Employment Tribunal (ET) fees.

The previous ET fees regime in place between 2013 and 2017 was declared unlawful in 2017 by the Supreme Court in R (Unison) v The Lord Chancellor on the basis that the fees were an unfair obstacle to access to justice and the amount of the fee that had to be paid in a discrimination claim was itself indirectly discriminatory. 

The fee now proposed is a flat fee of £55 to issue a claim and a further £55 to issue an appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). The amount might still persuade some potential claimants against commencing proceedings and the TUC, amongst other bodies, have published a statement protesting against the proposal.

5. Paternity leave

The Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 make important changes to the way in which paternity leave is taken in the UK.

Changes to this legislation (as summarised below) will provide greater flexibility in relation to employees whose partner is pregnant or who are going through an adoption process and whose expected week of childbirth or date of placement for adoption is on or after 6 April 2024.

  Previous position New position
Length of paternity leave A single period of either one or two weeks Either a single period of two weeks or two non-consecutive weeks
When can paternity leave be taken? Within the first eight weeks after birth or placement Any time within the first year after birth or placement
Notice required to take leave 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth or placement (except the notice period for domestic adoptions, which remains within seven days of receiving notice of having been matched with a child) 28 days’ notice prior to each period of leave

These are important and practical changes to the way in which paternity leave will need to be administered by employers and it is likely that HR policies will need to be updated to reflect the changes.

6. Carer’s Leave

A new right to Carer’s Leave is being introduced from 6 April 2024. Employees who are responsible for any dependants with long-term care needs will have the right to take a week’s unpaid leave to help with their caring obligations.

A “long-term care need” is defined as an illness or injury (either physical or mental) that requires or is likely to require care for more than three months, a disability under the Equality Act 2010, or issues related to old age.

7. EHRC publishes menopause guidance

The Equality and Human Rights Commission published new guidance for employers on menopause in the workplace on 21 February 2024.

The EHRC guidance summarises an employer’s legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010, particularly in relation to the protected characteristics of disability, age and sex. It emphasises the risk of claims against employers for failure to make reasonable adjustments, as well as claims of direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation. It also highlights an employer’s obligation to conduct a workplace risk assessment under health and safety legislation. The guidance also provides examples of reasonable workplace adjustments that should be considered by employers to support employees going through the menopause.

8. What might a Labour Government do?

A general election is likely to take place at some point this year and opinion polls would suggest that the Labour party is heading for Government. 

The Labour party have produced a green paper entitled “A New Deal for Working People” in relation to changes to employment rights. The most significant proposed changes include:

  • Banning zero-hours contracts
  • Ending fire and rehire
  • Scrapping qualifying periods for employment rights, such as unfair dismissal
  • Extending time limits to bring Employment Tribunal claims
  • Creating a single “worker” status with the same rights to holiday pay and sick pay as employees
  • Extending maternity and paternity leave and reviewing shared parental leave
  • Updating trade union legislation to strengthen collective bargaining
  • Raising the NMW rates
  • Introducing a new right to “switch off”

9. Sweeping reforms to the Skilled Worker route

The new Immigration rules from 4 April 2024 radically reforms the Skilled Worker immigration route. These are arguably the most significant changes we have seen since Brexit.

These changes, according to the Home Secretary, James Cleverly, are designed to encourage businesses to invest in the UK workforce, while also ensuring that overseas workers have the means to support themselves while living in the UK. The clear message from Government is that net migration must be reduced. 

The key change is the rise in the minimum salary threshold for overseas workers. Under the changes, businesses will only be able to sponsor skilled workers for positions that pay at least £38,700, a near 50% increase on the original £26,200 threshold, or the minimum as set out by the Standard Occupation Code (SOC codes) if this is higher. There are limited exceptions within certain sectors and a discounted salary rate for more junior hires.

10. On-line visa status (eVisa)

The Home Office has been developing a digital immigration system whereby physical documents, including biometric residence permits (BRP) cards, will be phased out completely by the end of 2024.

The Home Office has confirmed that those who hold physical documents will need to take steps to register for a UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) on-line account in order to update the physical document to an eVisa. The eVisa will be linked to an individuals’ passport, and therefore these individuals must keep their passport numbers up to date in the UKVI account.

Download full update

10 key employment law developments

Download the key employment law developments that employers need to be aware of in full. 


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