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Employment law changes ahead

on Thursday, 01 February 2024.

As the new year gets underway, we have looked at some of the key employment law developments anticipated in 2024.

Changes to Flexible Working Regime

We are expecting new flexible working legislation and a new ACAS Code of Practice on Flexible Working (supported by new ACAS Guidance) to come into effect in April 2024.

This will introduce the following changes to the flexible work regime:

  • The right for an employee to make a flexible working request becomes a "day one" right, and the current requirement for an employee to have at least 26 weeks continuous employment will be removed
  • The number of times employees can make a flexible working request every 12 months will increase from one to two
  • The timeframe for the employer to respond to a request will be reduced from three months to two months
  • Employees will no longer have to explain what they anticipate the impact of the proposed new working arrangement will be on the school
  • Employers will not be able to refuse a request until they have consulted with the employee

The changes don't affect school's ability to reject requests on one of the eight prescribed business grounds and these have remained unchanged.  However, the changes are likely to result in an increased number of requests and added scrutiny around decisions made.

Statutory Unpaid Carer's Leave

From 6 April 2024, employees with caring responsibilities will have a statutory right to take up to one week's unpaid leave per rolling 12-month period, to provide or arrange care for their dependents. They must be providing or arranging the care on an unpaid basis to qualify for the leave. The leave is a “day one” right, meaning there is no minimum service requirement to take advantage of it. As with other statutory leave entitlements employees who take, or seek to take, carer's leave will be protected from being subjected to any detriment or being dismissed as a consequence of having done so.  Schools will need to ensure this right is understood so that any absences can be accommodated and must be disregarded when managing attendance or making other decisions (for example around promotions, access to training opportunities or redundancies).

Paternity Leave Regulations

The Government has now published the draft Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024.

The Regulations come into force on 8 March 2024 and apply where the Expected Week of Childbirth is 6 April 2024 onwards

 The Regulations will make the following changes to the legal framework for paternity leave:

  • Employees will be able to choose between taking two non-consecutive weeks of paternity leave or a single period of one or two weeks
  • Employees will be able to vary the dates of their leave, provided they give at least 28 days' notice of the change
  • Employees will be able to take leave at any time during the first year following the birth and will only need to give 28 days’ notice of their intention to take paternity leave

Schools will need to update their employment policies to reflect these changes.  For those schools who adopt our Employment Manual we will be providing an update in due course.

For more information or advice on any of the developments, please contact Alice Reeve in our Education team on 07741 271 363, or complete the form below.

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