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Navigating the New Employment Law Changes: A Guide For Employers

Posted on 12th April 2024

As we transition into the new tax year, employers must stay informed about significant changes in employment law to ensure compliance and foster a supportive workplace environment. This year brings updates that focus on flexible working, carers leave, and measures to prevent workplace harassment. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate these changes. As covered in our webinar with Emma Griffith an Employment Lawyer from Draper Lang LLP.

 

Flexible Working: A Default Right

One of the most notable changes is the shift in flexible working policies. Previously, employees needed a qualifying period of service to request flexible working. Now, it’s a day-one right. This means that new employees can request flexible working arrangements from their first day of employment.

Key Takeaways for Employers:

  • Be prepared to handle flexible working requests from new hires immediately.
  • Encourage open discussions about flexible working during the interview process to set clear expectations.
  • Understand that flexible working requests are increasingly common and reflect the evolving nature of work post-COVID-19.

 

Carers Leave and Family-Friendly Policies

Supporting employees with caring responsibilities is a central theme in the new legislation. The changes aim to make it easier for employees to balance work and family life, thereby enhancing employee satisfaction and retention.

Key Takeaways for Employers:

  • Update your policies to include provisions for carers leave.
  • Ensure your family-friendly policies are well-communicated and easily accessible to all employees.
  • Recognise that supportive policies contribute to a more humane and productive workplace.

 

Upcoming Changes: September and October

Several significant changes are on the horizon for later this year. In September, workers will gain the right to request more predictable terms of employment. This applies to workers and agency workers with at least 26 weeks of service and includes requests for permanent contracts or more predictable working patterns.

Key Takeaways for Employers:

  • Prepare for an increase in requests for more predictable employment terms.
  • Review your policies and processes to ensure they align with the new statutory rights.
  • Be proactive in communicating these changes to your workforce.

 

Preventing Sexual Harassment

Starting in October, a new law will require employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. This includes ensuring a zero-tolerance approach, updating anti-harassment policies, and providing regular training.

Key Takeaways for Employers:

  • Implement and communicate a clear zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment.
  • Regularly review and update your anti-harassment policies and training programs.
  • Foster a workplace culture where harassment is not tolerated, and employees feel safe to report issues.

 

Looking Ahead: Potential Changes from a New Government

With the possibility of a general election, employers should be aware of potential changes that a new government might bring. If the Labour party wins, they have proposed several changes, including:

  • Removing the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims, which could increase the volume of straightforward claims.
  • Outlawing fire and rehire practices.
  • Enhancing discrimination protections and requiring the publication of ethnicity and gender pay gap statistics.

Key Takeaways for Employers:

  • Stay informed about political developments and proposed legislative changes.
  • Be prepared to adjust your hiring and employment practices accordingly.
  • Consider flexible hiring options like temp-to-perm to navigate potential new regulations.

 

Conclusion

Navigating these employment law changes is crucial for maintaining compliance and fostering a supportive work environment. By staying informed and proactive, employers can not only avoid legal pitfalls but also create a workplace that values and retains its employees. As always, staying ahead of these changes will help ensure your business remains a desirable place to work.

For more detailed guidance and support, The Maine Group is here to assist with expert training consultancy and recruitment services tailored to your needs.

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