international employment law firm alliance L&E Global
United Kingdom

UK: New UK Employment Rights and Guidance

Authors: Graham Mitchell, Ruth Bonino and Sophie Jackson

Carer’s leave

From 6 April 2024, unpaid carers have a new right to a week of flexible unpaid leave each year to care for a dependent with a long-term care need.  The government and Acas have both published guidance on the statutory right to carer’s leave.


Protection from redundancy for women and new parents

From 6 April 2024, employers are required to offer suitable alternative vacancies to a wider category of workers who are at risk of redundancy. Previously only those on maternity, adoption or shared parental leave had this right, but under the new law, redundancy protection is extended as follows:

  • Pregnant employees – from the date the employee tells their employer they are pregnant until their maternity leave starts, or where pregnancy ends and they are not entitled to maternity leave, until 2 weeks after the end of pregnancy
  • Maternity and adoption leavers – for 18 months from the date of the expected week of childbirth (or the child’s birth if the employer is informed) or placement for adoption/date the child enters Great Britain
  • Shared parental leavers – for 18 months after the child’s birth or placement (or date they enter Great Britain), except if they have not taken maternity or adoption leave in which case, they will still be protected during SPL but will need to have had six weeks’ continuous leave to qualify for protection after return from SPL.

Separately, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has published an updated toolkit to help provide employers with clear advice on what they should do to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination at work.


Paternity leave

From 6 April 2024, new rules provide more flexibility around how and when statutory paternity leave can be taken. For children whose expected week of birth begins after 6 April 2024 or expected placement for adoption is on or after 6 April 2024, eligible fathers and partners will be able to:

  • take the current entitlement of two weeks’ paternity leave at any time in the first year after birth or adoption, rather than in the first eight weeks, and
  • take the leave in two separate one-week blocks.

Changes to the notification requirements mean that less notice is required of the dates of leave.


New guidance for employers

The government has published new guidance for employers on ‘Responsible AI in Recruitment’. The guidance covers the ethical risks of using AI in recruitment and hiring processes, and how to manage these risks.

The government has also published new guidance for line managers on recruiting, managing and developing people with a disability or health condition.

Key Action Points for Human Resources and In-House Counsel

Employers should consider updating their policies for these changes. They should also make sure they factor in the extended redundancy protections when carrying out any redundancy or restructuring exercises.