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Emma O'Connor


In the second part of the series focusing on April 2024 employment law changes, Emma O’Connor, Legal Director, discusses changes in family friendly leave rights. In the first part of the series, Emma details holiday entitlement, national living and minimum wage and visa thresholds.


The flexible working revolution

For requests made on/after 6 April 2024, the law relating to who and how statutory flexible working requests are made is changing. HR will need to check their policies and procedures and train their teams and managers as to the new changes and what they mean. We are running virtual and in person training courses for managers and HR focusing on the “Flexible Working Revolution” so get in touch to book your session with us.


What’s changing? 

  • Making a flexible working request is to become a “day one” right for employees, as the requirement for employees to have at least 26 weeks' service to be entitled to make a flexible working request is being removed.
  • Employers will have to consult with employees on alternatives to a flexible working request before refusing their request.
  • Employees will be able to make 2 flexible working requests in any 12-month period
  • The time to deal with a request, including appeal if one is offered, is being reduced to two months from the date of receipt.
  • Employees will no longer be required to set out the effect their requested arrangement will have on the business, nor suggest ways their employer can manage it.

These changes will mark a huge shift in the way flexible working requests are made and by who, as well as how businesses manage requests. There will also be a new ACAS Code of Practice, which we reported on.


Unpaid carer’s leave

The Carer's Leave Regulations 2024 will introduce a new statutory right to unpaid carer's leave for employees in England, Wales, and Scotland to take up to 5 days of unpaid leave to provide or arrange care for a dependant who has a long-term condition (physical or mental). Leave is pro-rated for part-time employees. Also, leave can be taken as odd half or full days or as a full 5 days. There are rules around the notice which needs to be given by the employee and if the employer can postpone a request. HR will need to think about implementing a Carer’s Policy and alerting managers to the new leave entitlement, which is again a “day-one” right. Also, employees cannot be treated to their detriment for making a leave request or taking carer’s leave.


Paternity leave

For fathers or partners whose child is born, placed for adoption on or whose expected week of entry to Great Britain is after 6 April 2024, there are significant changes to the way paternity leave can be requested and taken. Paternity leave will be able to be taken within the first 12 months of birth/adoption (a change from the current 56 days) and qualifying employees will be able to take leave as either 2 x separate one-week blocks or as a two-week consecutive block. Also, notice to take paternity leave (for births) is changing to 28 days before (unless not reasonably practicable) – this is the same for each block of leave. Also, notification to change paternity leave dates is also reducing, again to allow parents to flex how the leave is taken.


Redundancy protection extended

This change could create several difficulties for employers who are proposing to make redundancies. Under new Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 redundancy protection (the right to be offered suitable alternative employment above others in an “at risk” pool) is going to be extended to apply during pregnancy and for a period of 18 months after birth or placement of a child for those taking maternity, adoption or shared parental leave. Given the increase in terms of who is protected under the right – remembering that if the right is breached, this would be an automatic unfair dismissal – this could cause significant issues for employers who now have different employees all entitled to the same protection at the same time. There are also rules as to when the new protections start from. It may not be possible to have enough roles which may be offered, so how do employers select between the protected group and can they legally? Some issues here to consider which will (hopefully) be helped by accompanying government guidance.


Next steps

We will be discussing some of the April Change Conundrums at our next webinar, so book now to secure your place.

For help with the changes, amending policies or procedures or with training, speak to us.

Get in touch

If you have any questions relating to this article or have any legal matters you would like to discuss, please contact the Employment team.

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