Compliance expert outlines how to prepare for the new changes to employment laws

by | Mar 2, 2024

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Employment laws are due a long-awaited overhaul in April, with changes to flexible working, request amends, protection for new parents and carer’s leave, among other changes. 

Vivek Dodd, CEO of compliance training service Skillcast, warns that failure to comply could result in serious consequences, stating:

“Failure to comply with these changes risks legal repercussions and may damage trust, reputation, and brand integrity. It’s crucial for businesses to prioritise proactive measures to safeguard employees’ rights and ensure long-term business sustainability.”

 
 

He adds, “Whenever regulations change businesses must adapt by reviewing internal policies and processes, updating staff training, and effectively communicating these changes.  Firms will need to overhaul their flexible working policies, ensure compliance with extended redundancy protections and accommodate new leave entitlements.”

Skillcast has outlined the expected regulation changes, how employers must adapt and the potential consequences for non-compliance.

The Equality Act 2010 (Amendment) Regulations 2023

 
 

The Equality Act has been amended to strengthen protections against discrimination related to pregnancy, maternity, breastfeeding, and disability. These amendments ensure that rights derived from EU Law are preserved despite Brexit.

Employers must review and update their equality policies and practices to ensure they do not discriminate against employees based on pregnancy, maternity, breastfeeding, or disability. This may involve providing reasonable accommodations, such as adjustments to work schedules or duties, ensuring equal opportunities for promotion and training, and preventing harassment or victimisation based on these characteristics.

Changes to Flexible Working

 
 

Flexible working rights will be expanded, making it a day-one employee entitlement. Employers must discuss requests and explore alternatives, allowing employees to make two requests per year and reducing the processing time.

Employers need to adapt their processes to accommodate the expanded flexible working rights. This may involve updating policies and procedures to reflect the new regulations, training managers to handle flexible working requests effectively, and ensuring fair and transparent decision-making processes.

Extended Redundancy Protection for New Parents

Redundancy protection for pregnant employees is extended for six months after maternity leave ends, ensuring they are offered alternative employment.

Employers must actively provide alternative employment to pregnant employees facing redundancy and ensure they are not unfairly targeted for job loss. This may involve identifying suitable alternative roles, offering training or support for transitioning to new positions, and providing clear communication throughout the redundancy process.

Carer’s Leave Act 2023

Plans to introduce carer’s leave are confirmed, allowing unpaid leave for employees to attend to caring responsibilities.

Once regulations are introduced, employers must facilitate carer’s leave requests and ensure employees are not penalised for taking such leave. This may involve updating policies and procedures to reflect the new entitlement, training managers on handling leave requests sensitively, and implementing monitoring mechanisms to track compliance with the regulations.

Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023

Parents of babies in neonatal care are entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid leave, with regulations specifying eligibility criteria and pay rates.

Employers must provide neonatal care leave and pay as mandated, ensuring eligible employees receive support during this challenging time. This may involve updating policies to incorporate the new entitlement, establishing procedures for verifying eligibility and processing leave requests, and communicating the benefits to employees effectively.

Critical Actions for Companies

Upon introduction of new employment laws, companies must promptly update policies, communicate changes through attestation, revise training materials, and provide comprehensive training to managers and staff, ensuring understanding and compliance.

Potential Fines for Non-Compliance

Skillcast estimates that failure to meet the following laws may result in penalties ranging from £8,000 to £30,000 or more. These fines cover compensation for various factors such as unfair treatment, loss of earnings, emotional distress, legal fees, and administrative costs associated with tribunal proceedings. 

If you are concerned about communicating your corporate policies, visit the Skillcast site for further information on their policy management software.

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