Several changes to employment law take effect from 6 April 2024. 

These changes come from several pieces of legislation passed in the last two years, mostly Private Members’ Bills which have passed with Government support and related secondary legislation. 

All these changes apply to England, Scotland and Wales, but not Northern Ireland where employment law is devolved. 

Changes to flexible working 

Employees can now make two rather than one request a year for flexible working, and the deadline for employers to respond to requests has been reduced from three to two months.  

Employers will also have to explain the reasons for denying any request, and employees no longer have to explain the impact of their request. However, the list of reasons employers can use to deny requests is remaining the same, including factors such as cost to the business or impact on quality, performance or ability to meet customer demand. 

These changes were made through the Employment Rights (Flexible Working) Act 2023. Through a separate piece of secondary legislation, employees will also be able to make such requests from their first day of employment, without having to wait the 26-week qualifying period. 

For more information about this legislation, see the Library briefing on the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Bill 2022-23. 

Carer’s leave 

Employees are now entitled to take one week of unpaid leave a year if they have caring responsibilities. 

This applies to any employees who are caring for a spouse, civil partner, child, parent or other dependant who needs care because of a disability, old age or any illness or injury likely to require at least three months of care. The leave entitlement is available from the first day of employment with no qualifying period. 

This entitlement was created by the Carer’s Leave Act 2023 and the associated Carer’s Leave Regulations 2024. For more information about this legislation, see the Library briefing on the Carer’s Leave Bill 2022-23. 

Increased protection against redundancy for pregnant employees 

Employees taking certain types of parental leave now have protection from redundancy for at least 18 months. This protection means that if their role is made redundant their employer must give them first refusal of any other vacancies; however, they can still be made redundant if no appropriate vacancy is available. Previously, employees only had this protection during their period of maternity, adoption or shared parental leave.  

Protection now begins on the day the employer is first notified of the employee’s pregnancy and ends 18 months after the date of the child’s birth. These protections also now extend to 18 months after the date of adoption for parents taking adoption leave or 18 months after the child’s birth in cases where a parent is taking at least six weeks of shared parental leave. 

These changes were made by the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023, and the Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 

For more information about this legislation, see the Library briefing on the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Bill 2022-23. 

More flexibility for paternity leave 

Employees taking statutory paternity leave (and pay, if they are eligible) can now split their two weeks’ entitlement into two separate one-week blocks, rather than having to take them both together. They can also take their two weeks at any time within the first year after their child’s birth, rather than within only the first eight weeks after birth as previously required. 

Employees now have to give employers 28 days’ notice for each week of leave, down from 15-weeks’ notice previously, before taking leave. However, they still need to give notice of their upcoming entitlement 15 weeks before the expected date of birth. 

These changes were made by the Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024. 

Changes coming later in 2024 

Other changes are expected to come into force later in 2024: 

About the author: Patrick Brione is the employment law and policy specialist at the House of Commons Library.