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April 2024 sees key changes to employment rights come into effect

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Lizzie Tasker Blog

Spring is in the air and with the transitioning seasons come several key employment law changes in April that employers need to be aware of.


With effect from 6th April 2024 all employees, regardless of their length of service, will have the right to request flexible working – it becomes a Day 1 right.

As it stands currently, the wider changes published last year by the Government were also expected to come into force at the same time on 6th April but have yet to be formalised into regulations. It is still unknown if this will happen or not, but the planned changes were:

  • To remove the requirement for employees to set out in their written request what effect their proposed flexibility would have on the business and how it could be dealt with

  • Increasing the number of flexible working requests that can be made in any 12-month period from one to two

  • Reducing the time period that employers have to deal with flexible working requests from 3 months to 2 months (including any appeal). It will remain possible, by agreement, to extend this time period.

  • Employers cannot reject a request without first consulting with the employee and exploring alternative options. The existing eight grounds that businesses can legitimately refuse a request will still stand.

However, it’s important to note that whilst the Government haven’t published the regulations and confirmed these changes will take effect from 6th April , ACAS have issued a revised code for dealing with flexible working requests which does take into account these changes.


Under existing protection, employees on maternity leave, adoption leave and shared parental leave have the right of first refusal over other employees when it comes to suitable alternative roles in a redundancy situation.

From 6th April, these protections are being extended:

  • Pregnant employees are protected from the date they inform their employer of the pregnancy, and until 18 months after the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC) or the actual birth date.

  • Employees on adoption leave are protected for 18 months from the date of placement.

  • Employees taking less than 6 weeks’ shared parental leave will have protection during the period of their leave. Employees taking more than 6 continuous weeks of shared parental leave will be protected for 18 months after birth.


We’ve set out the main changes to National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates in an earlier blog post, available here.

Employers must ensure they pay their workforce correctly, as if they are found to be in breach of the rules could face legal action from staff, investigation by the HMRC – including inclusion on the public name and shame list as well as financial penalties.

It’s also worth noting that this isn’t just something which should be reviewed every April when the rates increase, you need to diarise any workers’ birthdays which will take them to the next level, such as ages 18 or 21 and track any workers on recognised Apprenticeships.

There have been several high-profile cases that have seen employers who have inadvertently fallen foul of the regulations. It’s not just the rates of pay you should consider; you also need to look at factors such as your practices relating to working time, pay periods and whether any deductions are being made from worker’s pay. It can be a difficult field to navigate so we recommend taking specific legal advice relating to your individual circumstances.


For employees where the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC) is on or after 6th April 2024, the following paternity leave changes apply:

  • Employees will be able to take paternity leave at any time in the 52 weeks after birth (previously within the 56 days following the birth)

  • Employees can take their two-week paternity leave entitlement as two separate blocks of one week

  • Employees only need to give 28 days’ notice of their intended dates to take paternity leave

Employers will need to ensure that any relevant policies are updated to reflect these changes and that line managers handling such requests on the frontline can provide accurate information and plan accordingly.


Coming into effect from 6th April, employees have a new day one right to take up to one week of unpaid carers leave every 12 months to provide or arrange for care of a dependent with a long-term care need. Requests can be consecutive or non-consecutive half-days or full days, must be provided by the employee in writing and must give notice of either three days or double the length of leave requested, whichever is longer.

Employers cannot refuse leave, but can postpone when there’s a reasonable belief that the business operations would be unduly disrupted. In these instances, leave must be given within one month of the date it was requested, and employers must explain why it has been refused.

Employers must note that they are not able to ask for proof of why carers leave is required. Employees are protected from any detriment or dismissal as a result of taking or seeking to take carers leave.

Employers will likely need to review thier policies or employee handbook to now include a reference to this new form of leave.


Dramatic new changes for those who work part-years (employees who have at least one week per year where they do not work and are not paid) or irregular hours (workers whose paid hours of work in each pay period are either wholly or mainly variable) come into force for holiday years commencing on or after 1st April 2024.

Holiday entitlement for these workers will accrue at the rate of 12.07% of the hours worked during that pay period. Employers will have the choice to:

  • pay them holiday pay when they take their holiday; or

  • pay them rolled-up holiday pay. This is when an additional supplement is added to the worker’s pay that represents the holiday pay they have earned in that pay period. This is calculated based on 12.07% of pay received for that pay period and should be itemised separately on their payslip. They will still be entitled to take time off as holiday but, when they do, this will be unpaid.

It's important to note that these changes take effect from holiday years commencing on or after 1st April 2024 – so if your holiday year runs from January, for example, you won’t need to implement changes until January 2025.

Employers firstly need to establish if this applies to any of their current workforce and if it does, decide if rolled-up holiday pay would be a suitable option. Other considerations are to ensure that HR/payroll functions can handle a new method of accrual and pay, update any relevant policies and consider whether revised terms and conditions / contracts are required to be issued.

Holiday pay is a very complex area, and we’d always recommend taking specific legal advice.