UK labour law: what changes to expect in 2024
In 2024, important labour reforms will come into force in the UK, ranging from parental leave to flexible working. These changes will need to be considered to maintain business efficiency and ensure compliance with legal regulations. Find out more about what to expect from UK labour law in 2024
The UK government is planning to make strategic decisions on labour law reforms after Brexit, actively supporting private members' bills. This has led to significant changes in labour legislation this year. This article reviews the main transformations, presents key court cases and identifies possible prospects under the new Labour government.
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Key changes to UK labour law in relation to Brexit
On 1 January 2024, important labour reforms came into force in the UK as a result of the EU Law (Repeal and Reform) Act last year. This law ended the rule of EU law in the country, giving the government new powers to review labour law.
One of the key changes was the introduction of new laws on holiday entitlements and pay. Employers are now required to provide full pay for at least four weeks of leave. However, it is important to take into account additional allowances, such as overtime or commissions, when calculating holiday pay. Employees were also granted the right to carry over unused leave to the next period, facilitating more flexible leave management.
The decrees amending the 2010 Equality Law retained the influence of key EU case law. This applies to areas such as indirect discrimination, recruitment and breastfeeding in the workplace. These changes have expanded the scope for claims in certain areas and require employers to pay attention to the new regulations.
Notwithstanding these labour changes, the government has also taken steps to waive some of the consultation and working time recording obligations imposed by the EU. These steps are considered modest compared to previous speculation of radical changes to labour law post-Brexit.
The end of EU supremacy will also lead to changes in the treatment of UK legislation, which will no longer be interpreted in line with European requirements. This may open up grey areas for re-litigation, and employers should be prepared to adapt to new case law and consider possible changes in the definition of EU-derived law.
The most important labour reforms in the UK coming into force in April 2024
From April 2024, significant changes in the UK labour law will come into force, which should be considered to maintain business efficiency and ensure compliance with the new regulations. One of the most significant initiatives is the draft Code of Practice on Dismissal and Reinstatement, which follows the growing interest in this topic in 2023. The final version is expected to be published in early 2024 and will provide important guidance for those planning to change the terms of a contract.
However, it is important to bear in mind that April is traditionally the period when many changes in labour law come into force. One significant aspect of this is the increase in the National Living Wage to £11.44 per hour from 1 April 2024. This historic increase is billed as the largest ever, closing the gap between the statutory minimum and the 'real' living wage, which is currently £12 per hour outside of London.
In addition, employees can expect improvements in family leave, sick leave and other types of leave. The proposed increase in pay will help to incentivise employees and improve their financial conditions during leave.
In addition, a new leave system for employees with irregular working hours or those who work part of the year will be introduced from 1 April 2024. This is intended to ensure greater flexibility and equality in leave rights. Professional experts recommend that employers review the new rules and update their leave policies to reflect these changes.
Starting from 6 April 2024, employees can request flexible working arrangements from the first day of work, which is an important step in creating favourable conditions for employees. This change may provide employees with more control over their work schedule and ease their working conditions.
In addition, it is important to take into account the new right to one week's unpaid parental leave from 6 April 2024. This right allows employees to take parental leave at any time during the first year, providing them with the flexibility they need.
At the end of April 2024, minor changes to parental leave are planned. This may affect employers who need to update their policies and prepare their staff for the new realities of the labour market.
All of these changes in labour law require careful and timely responses from employers to ensure compliance and effective HR management.
Changes to UK labour law, coming into force from May 2024
The coming months promise to be a period of intense change in UK labour law. In particular, the long-awaited Tipping Fairness Act, which will come into force on 1 July 2024, will be important for hospitality employers. This law will bring significant changes to the distribution of tips and its transparency, affecting the financial processes in the service industry.
In September 2024, a new legal right will come into force, allowing employees to demand predictable working hours. This will be a step towards greater fairness in working conditions and will allow employees to take more control over their schedule and the terms of their employment contract.
Equally important is the date of 26 October 2024, when the Law on Protection of Employees from Sexual Harassment will come into force. This law will set new standards and oblige employers to take proactive measures to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission will be a key document that will determine how employers should respond to and prevent such situations.
Another important milestone will be the government's adoption of the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill in 2024. The law will aim to maintain data protection compliance with the EU, while helping employers manage personal data and interact with data subjects.
All of these legislative changes demonstrate the ongoing development of employment law in the UK and provide more rights and protections for employees. However, it should be borne in mind that many of these laws require careful attention and timely response from employers to ensure effective implementation and compliance.
What court decisions in the field of UK labour law are expected in 2024
In 2024, the labour law area will be in the spotlight due to several important court cases. The first case, Manjang v. Uber Eats, concerns the use of facial recognition software in the background check process. This may raise questions of racial discrimination. This high-profile lawsuit is being heard in an employment tribunal and is the subject of much interest from trade unions.
The other case, Mercer, which is being heard by the Supreme Court, concerns a strike and the measures employers can take in response to it. The outcome of this case may define the limits of employers' actions during strikes and their responsibilities in such situations.
Finally, the case of Bathgate v Technip considers the possibility of entering into a settlement agreement in respect of future claims that have not yet arisen. The outcome of this case, expected in 2024, may have an impact on the practice of concluding agreements between employers and employees in respect of future disputes.
In immigration law, the year 2024 will also bring significant changes, including a tripling of fines for employing persons without the right to work. This significant provision is aimed at strengthening control over illegal employment and may affect businesses that violate the rules of engaging foreign labour.
Thus, 2024 promises to be a key year in the field of labour law, defining a number of significant changes. Among the challenges facing employers are strict return-to-work policies, resolving conflicting views in the context of the culture wars, and efforts to stay at the forefront of artificial intelligence. With a Labour victory, an important shift in labour law could begin, with the potential to be the most significant in recent years.
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