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Navigating Employment Law Changes: A Guide for Public Sector Employers

A series of significant changes to employment legislation have been slated for 2024/25, affecting everything from carer’s leave to flexible working provisions. This timeline explores the key amendments and actions required to help you effectively navigate the changes for your organisation.

January 2024

Equality Act 2010

Some important post-Brexit reforms took effect from 1 January 2024. The Equality Act 2010 was amended to preserve in domestic law various key rights and principles of equality and discrimination law after retained EU law ceases to have effect.

Notable changes include clarifications on direct discrimination in relation to pregnancy, maternity and breastfeeding, as well as indirect associative discrimination and discriminatory statements about recruitment. The definition of disability has been amended to provide clarity on the meaning of “normal day-to-day activities” to specifically cover a person’s “ability to participate fully and effectively in working life”. Additionally, a single source test has been introduced for the provision of equal pay.

What you need to do: Review and update policies in relation to equality and discrimination and emphasise the importance of these changes in training.


Working Time Regulations (WTR) and TUPE

Working time record keeping obligations have been clarified, confirming that employers do not need to record all daily working hours of all their workers, however, they are required to keep “adequate” records that reflect compliance with the 48-hour average work week limit from 1 January 2024.

In a change that reflects EU case law, also effective from 1 January 2024, employees can now carry over annual leave that could not be taken for any of the following reasons: due to maternity or family-related statutory leave; sick leave; as a result of misclassified employment status; where the employer has failed to give workers a reasonable opportunity to take holiday; or where the employer has failed to inform them that holiday not taken will be lost. Workers can no longer accrue COVID-19 carryover leave, however, and any such accrued leave has to be used by 31 March 2024.

What you need to do:  Ensure workers are classified correctly for employment status purposes, ensure you have processes in place for reminding/encouraging employees to take leave, that policies about carrying leave over are updated and that you remind anyone who still has leave outstanding which accrued during the pandemic that they need to take it by 31 March 2024.

“Normal remuneration” for holiday pay purposes reflects retained EU case law and has been codified into the rules on holiday pay to include, amongst other things, commission and regular overtime in relation to four weeks leave. This is in force from 1 January 2024.

What you need to do: Ensure that holiday pay is correctly calculated on the basis of “normal remuneration”.

“Rolled-up” holiday pay has been reintroduced for irregular hours and part-year workers and calculated as an uplift of 12.07% to the normal rate of pay. This applies to leave years that start on or after 1 April 2024.

What you need to do: Ensure amounts in respect of holiday pay are clearly and transparently set out on payslips. Put safeguards in place to ensure that these workers take holiday.

An accrual method for calculating holiday pay was introduced for irregular hours and part-year workers for leave years starting on or after 1 April 2024. Holiday pay is calculated as 12.07% of all hours worked in the previous pay period, meaning that holiday will accrue as the year progresses and will stay in proportion to the hours worked.

What you need to do: Update templates for irregular hours and part-year workers where appropriate.

TUPE consultation changes allow small businesses (fewer than 50 workers) and businesses of any size proposing a transfer involving fewer than 10 workers, to consult directly with workers rather than electing representatives. This applies to transfers taking place on or after 1 July 2024.

What you need to do: Speak to us for advice on TUPE regulations and handling a transfer.

Code of Practice on Preventing Illegal Working

The Draft Code of Practice on preventing illegal working came into force on 22 January 2024. It sets out how an employer can establish a statutory excuse for right to work checks, thus avoiding civil penalties.

What you need to do: Review and update your right to work policy and ensure staff are trained on how to carry out right to work checks correctly. Speak to us for guidance.


April 2024

Statutory Rates Increase

Rates of National Minimum Wage increase from 1 April 2024, Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and other statutory family-leave related payments increase from 2 April 2024 and Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) increases from 6 April 2024.

What you need to do: Ensure all payments are increased in line with statutory rates and update references in policies, procedures and templates as appropriate.

Carer’s Leave

The Carer’s Leave Act comes into force on 6 April 2024 creating a new statutory unpaid leave entitlement for employees who have someone who relies on them for care. This is a day one right, meaning that it will be available from the first day of employment, and those who qualify will be able to take up to one week (in days, half days or as a block) of unpaid carer’s leave in any 12-month period.

What you need to do: Review or introduce policies and procedures in relation to unpaid carer’s leave, raise awareness and train managers.

Flexible Working

The changes to the right to request flexible working in the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act come into force and will become a day one right for all requests made on or after 6 April 2024.

Employees may make two requests in any 12-month period. An employer will not be able to refuse a request without consulting the employee and the time for making a decision will be reduced from three to two months.

The Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service (Acas) consulted on an updated statutory Code of Practice and will also be updating their non-statutory guidance in relation to flexible working requests. New advice will be published on 6 April 2024.

What you need to do: Ensure policies and procedures are updated and keep a watching brief for Acas Code of Practice and Guidance. Ensure managers are trained on the changes.

Extending Current Redundancy Protection

The period of special protection from redundancy (i.e. the right to be offered suitable alternative vacancies in a redundancy situation) for employees on maternity leave, adoption leave or shared parental leave (SPL) is extended. For maternity leave, the period of protection will be 18 months from the expected week of birth; adoption leave will be 18 months from placement for adoption; and for SPL, protection will cover 18 months from birth provided at least six consecutive weeks of SPL is taken but will not apply if maternity or adoption protection applies.

This extension applies to cover pregnancy where the employer is informed of the pregnancy on or after 6 April 2024. The extension of the protected period will apply to any maternity and adoption leave ending on or after 6 April 2024 and any period of six weeks SPL starting on or after 6 April 2024.

What you need to do: Raise awareness and update training for anyone involved in implementing redundancies.


September 2024

Statutory Right to Request a More Predictable Working Pattern

The Workers (predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 is expected to come into force, introducing a new statutory right to request a more predicable working pattern. It will apply to workers whose existing working patterns lack certainty in terms of hours or times they work and to those on a fixed-term contract of 12 months or less. It will also apply to agency workers.

Employers must deal with a request in a reasonable manner and notify the worker of their decision within one month. A maximum of two applications will be permitted during any 12-month period and requests may be refused on specified grounds.

Acas consulted on a new statutory Code of Practice and non-statutory guidance will accompany the Code.

What you need to do: Keep a watching brief for the finalised new Code and diarise updating your policies and procedures, raising awareness and training managers.


October 2024

New duty to prevent sexual harassment

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 comes into force in October 2024 and introduces a new duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of their employees. It also gives tribunals the power to uplift sexual harassment compensation by 25% where the employer is found to have breached this duty.

What you need to do: Update policies, ensure managers are aware of their responsibilities, and ensure that this is included as part of training.


April 2025

Neonatal care leave and pay

Legislation is now in place to enable regulations to come into force introducing neonatal leave and pay for employees whose babies spend an extended period of time in neonatal care.

What you need to do: Monitor developments and prepare for the implementation of new regulations.


Equipped with the knowledge to respond appropriately, and act ahead of time, organisations can emerge through this period of employment law reform more resilient and better equipped to meet the evolving needs of their workforce and uphold the principles of a modern, inclusive workplace.

If you need advice on navigating these developments for your organisation, please get in touch. Our team of highly experienced solicitors are committed to giving prompt and cost-effective advice to public and third sector legal and HR teams. Our clients include unitary authorities, first and second tier authorities, fire and rescue authorities, local authority trading companies, multi-academy trusts and school governing bodies.


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