Several pieces of UK legislation and associated employment regulations that were supported by the CIPD through passage into law will come into force in April 2024.

We consulted CIPD members on the areas covered, so we anticipate significant shared support for the changes planned. Businesses will need to be ready to implement these new regulations for their employees from 6 April.

The three key pieces of legislation to be aware of are:

  • Employment Rights (Flexible Working) Act 2023
  • Carer’s Leave Act 2023
  • Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023

Employment Rights (Flexible Working) Act 2023

New flexible working laws mean millions of workers in the UK will have more flexibility over where and when they work.

Under the new regulations, employees will be entitled to request flexible working arrangements from the very first day of their employment rather than after 26 weeks as is currently. This includes requests for part-time, term-time, flexitime, compressed hours, and varied working locations.

Employers need to be aware that, under the new rules, before they reject any request for flexible working arrangements, they have to explain the reasons behind their decision. Previously, employers could deny any request for flexible working without explanation.

Employers are also now obliged to respond to flexible working requests within two months, compared to three months previously.

Under the new legislation, employees can also make two statutory requests for flexible working in any 12-month period, as opposed to one request previously.

Carer’s Leave Act 2023

The Act makes provision for unpaid leave for employees with caring responsibilities.

This leave is a day-one right, available to all employees without any qualifying period. It applies to anyone 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’ care. This leave is unpaid. The maximum duration of the leave is one week per year. While employers can’t deny an employee’s request for carer’s leave, they can postpone it if they reasonably consider that the operation of the business would be unduly disrupted if it were approved.

Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023

Under the current law, employees on maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave already have special protection in a redundancy situation. From 6 April, this legislation extends that priority status to pregnant employees and those who have recently returned from maternity or adoption leave and shared parental leave.

If you think you may be eligible for this new protection then it is worth checking the criteria, but as an example, a pregnant employee who takes maternity leave would be protected for 18 months from the child’s date of birth if they notify the employer before the end of maternity leave. And fathers taking sufficient shared parental leave will also be protected for 18 months.

Our report Focus on working parents outlines our views on how to reform support for working parents.

Next steps

Important steps forward have been made through these pieces of legislation, but there is still more that can be done to improve UK employment law. Both of the main UK political parties have pledged more comprehensive employment legislation in recent years. This is why in advance of the upcoming general election the CIPD has made a number of further calls on policy-makers in our Manifesto for Good Work. These include calls for a new single enforcement body to improve the protection of workers’ health and rights, which would have a strong focus on supporting and improving employer compliance with the law and raising overall employment standards.

About the author

Carl Quilliam, Public Affairs Manager

Carl leads our engagement with the UK government, working to inform policy and legislation that champions better work and working lives. 

As our Public Affairs Manager, he provides evidence to Parliamentary committees, supports our work responding to government consultations and inquiries and engages with ministers, civil servants and others.

He is an experienced public affairs professional, with more than 15 years’ experience. He has advised public and private sector organisations on strategy, policy and public affairs. Carl also has direct experience of front-line politics, as a former staffer for a political party and a former elected councillor.

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