Key employment law updates | April 2024

Welcome to our monthly update, where we share upcoming changes to employment law.

Following the government’s publication of its consultation response and revised draft Code of Practice on Dismissal and Re-engagement in March (see our previous update), a new statutory Code of Practice on Dismissal and Re-engagement (Code) will be brought into force by July 2024, subject to Parliamentary approval.

Additionally, a draft Order giving tribunals power to uplift or reduce compensation for failure to follow statutory Code on dismissal and re-engagement has been published.

This states that, where an employee has been dismissed in a “fire and rehire” scenario not in compliance with the Code, compensation can be increased by up to 25%. This will apply conversely if the employee has unreasonably failed to comply with the Code.

Carer’s leave

New guidance outlines the notice that an employee wishing to take carer’s leave must give, employees’ rights whilst on leave and how to calculate the leave period when working part-time.

Pregnancy and family leave and pay

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has created guidance, worked examples and typical scenarios for pregnant employees and employees entitled to family leave and pay.

Pregnancy and maternity: Pregnancy: Summarises an employer’s key obligations in relation to pregnant employees and provides guidance for employers on avoiding pregnancy and maternity discrimination.

Pregnancy, adoption, and maternity: Return to work: Explains an employer’s obligations to new parents returning to work after they have taken leave due to pregnancy, adoption, or maternity.

Maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave and pay: Covers an employer’s duties in relation to pay for family-related leave.

Flexible working

ACAS has published its Code of Practice which outlines the process of making a flexible working request, consultation with the employee and handling appeals.

On 9 April 2024, the government published a new version of guidance for line managers on recruiting, managing and supporting the career development of disabled people.

The Guidance aims to help managers:

  • Be confident about managing and supporting employees with a disability or health condition, from recruitment and induction through to training, development, progression, and retention.
  • Understand, identify, and reduce the barriers that could potentially be preventing a colleague with a disability or health condition from performing and/or developing to their full potential.

Research from the University of Warsaw revealed that, amongst 937 UK managers, 11% were less likely to give a promotion to staff who worked entirely from home, and 9% less likely to give them a pay rise, than to those who were completely office-based. Hybrid workers were on average 7% less likely to be promoted or receive a pay rise.

From an analysis of 22,000 tasks in the UK economy, the report identifies two key stages of generative AI adoption: the first wave, which is here and now (11 per cent of tasks done by workers are already exposed to AI), and a second wave in which companies will integrate existing AI technologies further and more deeply into their processes.

In the first wave, the most likely to be affected are:

  • Those holding or seeking back-office, entry-level and part-time jobs, such as secretarial, administrative and customer service roles.
  • Women, as a greater proportion work in impacted roles.
  • Young people, as employers hire fewer people into entry-level jobs, introducing AI technologies instead.
  • Low to medium-level earners, as they are most likely to be replaced by AI.

The report states this could increase to AI doing 59 per cent of tasks in the second wave. This would also impact non-routine cognitive tasks (such as creating and maintaining databases) and would affect increasingly higher earning jobs.

Three future scenarios are modelled, from full displacement by AI with no GDP gains to full ‘augmentation’ with no jobs lost and GDP gains of 4% annually.

A recent review by the government accepted that domestic abuse should be seen as a workplace issue and that employers have a role to play in supporting their employees.

The prevalence of hybrid working and the common use of the workplace as a place of safety for victims of domestic abuse is something to acknowledge.

However, the review highlighted the impracticability of creating a law that accommodates the needs of victims of domestic abuse whose needs differ on a case-by-case basis.

It suggests that, instead, employers can support employees by offering greater flexibility about when and where they work, or by making small adjustments to allow time off for appointments.

Millions are being invited to switch from physical immigration documents to an eVisa – a key step in creating a modernised and digital border.

The Home Office has begun to send emails to all those with physical immigration documents, called biometric residence permits (BRPs), inviting them to create a UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account to access their eVisa, a digital proof of their immigration status.

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