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April 2024 Employment Law changes – what businesses need to know


There are a number of important employment law changes coming into effect this April, and businesses need to prepare to ensure that policies are updated in time to avoid future issues.

Emma Butterworth, partner at our Manchester office, and Hannah Dickie, associate solicitor at our Lancaster office look at the key changes that businesses need to be aware of and when they are coming into effect.

The Flexible Working Regime

One of the key changes comes from The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023. The Regulations make the right to request to work flexibly a day one statutory right rather than the current requirement for an employee to have at least 26 weeks service.

Other changes around flexible working are set to be brought in via the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023. However, we are still awaiting guidance from the Secretary of State as to when these changes will actually come into effect, although we do also expect this to be from 6 April 2024 (so watch this space). Those proposed changes will mean:

  • Businesses will have a duty to consult with the applicant before they can reject an FWR.
  • Employees will have the right to make two FWRs in any 12-month period, doubling the previous right.
  • Businesses will have two months, rather than three, to respond to FWRs.
  • Employees making a FWR will no longer be required to outline how the proposed changes might impact their organisation.

It is important to note that the new regimes do not give employees an automatic right to work flexibly and that businesses can still reject such requests.

Businesses should keep in mind that rejections of FWRs can have a negative impact on recruitment and retention.

It is understood that ACAS will be releasing a new code of practice on 6 April 2024 to assist businesses with handling FWRs.

Enhanced protection from redundancy

The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023 introduces protection from 6 April 2024 for a wider group of individuals who are at risk of redundancy.

Pregnant employees, an employee who has suffered a miscarriage, and employees returning from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave will have priority when considering redeployment opportunities.


  • Pregnant employees will have protection from the date they notify their employer of the pregnancy until 18 months after the birth of the child.
  • Employees who have taken adoption leave will be protected for 18 months from the date of the placement for adoption of the child.
  • Employees taking less than six weeks’ shared parental leave will have the protection during that period of leave. However, employees taking more than six weeks of leave will be protected for 18 months after the birth or placement for adoption of the child.

At this time there is no guidance on what happens when a business has more protected individuals than suitable roles.

It is anticipated that this could be a source of litigation in the future. Until such time the usual principles around fairness in redundancy processes apply.

Carer’s Leave Act 2023

This is also set to come into force on 6 April 2024.

It gives a new statutory right to a week of unpaid leave per year for those who are providing, or arranging, care for a dependant who has a long-term care need – this is a day-one right for employees.

An employee’s ‘dependant’ is defined as:

  • Spouse, civil partner, child, or parent.
  • An individual who lives in the same household as the employee for a reason other than being a boarder, employee, lodger or tenant.
  • An individual that reasonably relies on the employee to provide or arrange care.

It defines ‘a long-term care need’ as being:

  • If a dependant has an illness or injury that is likely to require care for more than three months.
  • If a dependant has a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.
  • If the dependant requires care for a reason connected with their old age.

It is possible to take the leave in periods of less than a week but there are notice provisions for the request to take that leave and it is possible, in certain circumstances, for a business to ask for that leave to be postponed.

Employees have the right not to be subjected to a detriment as a result of requesting this type of leave and if they are dismissed for exercising this right it would be automatically unfair.

The Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024

These regulations came into force on 8 March 2024 and apply to all cases where the expected week of childbirth or date of placement for adoption fall on, or after, 6 April 2024.

Eligible partners can now choose between taking two periods of a week’s leave or to take it as a block of two weeks.

The amount of notice required to be given has been reduced to 28 days as opposed to 15 weeks before the expected week of childbirth.

Paternity leave can now be taken at any point in the first year after the birth or placement of the child, which means businesses may have more chance to plan for the absence.

However, it is possible for a request to be made to vary the original notice of paternity leave dates provided an employee gives 28 days’ notice of the variation.

The new rules also require an employee to both declare their eligibility for this leave and the legitimate purpose of it.

Our Employment Law team can assist with drafting and reviewing company policies and procedures, we can also provide line manager training workshops to equip your managers with the tools to deal with these issues. To make an appointment, please contact us on 01772 258 321 or get in touch Emma Butterworth or Hannah Dickie directly.

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