Employment law changes in 2024

From carers to flexible working, there are several employment law changes coming into effect in 2024.

Older woman caring for her husband who is in a wheelchair


2024 will see a range of new employment rights come into force, including a day one right to request flexible working and unpaid carer’s leave.


From April, under The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 (Commencement) Regulations 2023, carers will have a new day one right to one week of unpaid leave each year to carry out caring responsibilities. The right will apply to employees who need to take time off to care for a dependant. A dependant will include:

  • A spouse, partner or civil partner
  • A child
  • A parent
  • A person who lives in the same household as the employee (otherwise than by reason of being their employee, tenant, lodger, or boarder)
  • A person who reasonably relies on the employee for care

In order to be eligible for carer’s leave, which could be taken as a single block or as days or half days, the person being cared for must have a long-term care need. They will need to give notice of twice the length of time to be taken off.

An employee will be able to take carer’s leave for any of the following forms of caring:

  • Providing personal support
  • Providing practical support
  • Helping with official or financial matters
  • Providing personal and/medical care
  • Making arrangements

Carers who take the time off will be protected from dismissal or detrimental effect in relation to their caring responsibilities. Under the Equality Act, carers already have the right not to be discriminated against as a result of their caring role and “association” with a disabled person.

Other legal rights include the right to take unpaid time off during emergencies without affecting your employment.

Flexible working

The right to request flexible working from day one in a new job will come into effect from April 6th. Later in the year, the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 will come into effect which includes provisions such as the right to make two requests for flexible working in a year [up from one] and a reduction of one month in the time employers have to consider a request. Employees can claim any form of flexible working. They do not have to give a reason why they need it, but employers do not have to grant it. There are eight broad business reasons why an employer can refuse it:

1. The burden of additional costs
2. An inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
3. An inability to recruit additional staff
4. A detrimental impact on quality
5. A detrimental impact on performance
6. Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
7. Insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
8. Planned structural changes to the business.

However, under the new legislation employers will be required to consult with employees and the stipulation that employees need to make a business case for their request by considering the impact on their employer has been removed. Nevertheless, employment law experts say that it is a good idea to show that you have taken this into account and could help push your request over the line.

Other legal changes coming in this year include:

-The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act. This will come into force this year, meaning people on atypical contracts, including  zero hours contracts and fixed-term contracts of less than 12 months, will be able to make a formal application to change their working patterns to make it more predictable. Once a worker has made their request, their employer will be required to notify them of their decision within a month.


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