Employment law reform timeline

Morton Fraser Partner Innes Clark
Innes Clark
03 January 2024

This blog sets out the key legislative and case law decisions expected in 2024 and beyond and will be regularly updated throughout the year.


EARLY 2024

Holiday leave and pay, TUPE and the Working Time reporting obligations

In force on 1 January, the Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023 will address calculation of holiday pay for irregular hours and part year workers, change TUPE consultation requirements for small businesses (with fewer than 50 employees) and businesses of any size where the transfer is of fewer than 10 employees); and reduce some reporting requirements under the Working Time Regulations. The TUPE provisions will apply to TUPE transfers on or after 1 July.  Some of the provisions relating to holidays will only apply to leave years beginning on or after 1 April.

Equality Act Amendments

Also expected to come into force on 1 January, the Equality Act 2010 (Amendment) Regulations 2023 are intended to reproduce EU derived discrimination protections that might have otherwise fallen away at the end of 2023.  These cover direct discrimination related to pregnancy, maternity and breastfeeding; particular aspects of both direct and indirect discrimination and equal pay; and the definition of disability.


January will see a number of significant changes to immigration law.  This includes penalties for employing illegal workers tripling and changes aimed at reducing the use of Skilled Worker visas.

The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023

The first Regulations bringing into effect minimum service levels ("MSLs") during strikes that employers can impose on trade unions and workers in certain "relevant services" came into force in December 2023.  These provide for MSLs for passenger railway services, NHS ambulance and patient transport services, and border security services.   Government responses to consultations on introducing MSLs to fire and rescue and urgent, emergency and time-critical hospital based health services are awaited and a consultation has been announced but not yet issued on introducing MSLs in Universities. Regulations may follow in due course.  The Labour party have confirmed they will repeal this legislation should they win the next general election. 


Statutory code on dismissal and re-engagement

The draft Code of Practice on Dismissal and Re-engagement was published on 23 January 2023.  According to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business and Trade, the UK Government response to the related consultation and the final version of the Code will be published in "Spring 2024".

National living and national minimum wage

1 April will see the annual changes to the national living and national minimum wage taken effect.  As of that date:-

  • NLW (for those aged 21 and over) will increase from £10.42 to £11.44 per hour
  • NMW (for those aged 18 to 20) will increase from £7.49 to £8.60 per hour
  • NMW (for those aged 16 and 17 and apprentices aged under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship) will increase from £5.28 to £6.40 per hour

Note that the age threshold for the NLW is being lowered to apply to workers aged 21 and over, rather than the current 23 and over.

Statutory benefits

It is proposed that statutory sick pay will increase from £109.40 to £116.75 per week from 6 April 2024.  Statutory maternity, paternity, shared parental, adoption and parental bereavement pay are proposed to increase from £172.48 to £184.03 per week from 7 April 2024.

Tribunal compensation

It is likely that the new rates for the 2024/25 year will be announced in March 2024 and will apply to dismissals occurring on or after 6 April 2024. In 2023 the limit on the compensatory award for unfair dismissal increased from £93,878 to £105,707.  Also in 2023, the limit on a week's pay (used for calculating statutory redundancy payments and the basic award for unfair dismissal) increased from £571 to £643 meaning the maximum basic award and maximum statutory redundancy payment increased to £19,290. 

Guidelines for injury to feelings awards

An award for injury to feelings is made to compensate for injury to feelings caused by discrimination. The award is separate from an award to compensate for financial loss and can be made even where no financial loss has been suffered.  To assist Employment Tribunals, the Court of Appeal previously set out guidance for quantifying awards for injury to feelings, known as the Vento bands. For claims presented on or after 6 April 2023 the bands are as follows:-

  • Lower band (less serious cases) - £1,100 to £11,200
  • Middle band (for cases that do not merit an award in the upper band) - £11,200 to £33,700
  • Upper band (for most serious cases) - £33,700 to £56,200

Awards of more than £56,200 will only be made in the most exceptional of cases.

The bands are reviewed annually and any increases for 2024/25 are likely to be announced in March 2024 and will apply to claims presented on or after 6 April 2024.

Gender pay gap reporting

30 March will see the gender pay gap reporting deadline for public sector employers (using 31 March 2023 as a snapshot date).

4 April will see the gender pay gap reporting deadline for private companies and voluntary organisations with 250 or more staff, using a snapshot date of 5 April 2023.  After disappointing pay gap statistics in 2023, it is to be hoped that the figures for 2024 show a marked improvement. 

Carer's leave

The right to take carer’s leave will be in force from 6 April.  This introduces a flexible entitlement to one week's unpaid leave for employees providing or arranging care for a dependent with a long-term care need.

Day 1 right to request flexible working/changes to requests procedure

The right to request flexible working from day 1 of employment will also come into force on 6 April.  There is not currently a date for the changes to the flexible working requests procedure to be brought into force, but it is likely to be around the same time. 

Protection from redundancy for pregnant women and new parents

April 6 will also see the extension of protection from redundancy for pregnant women and new parents coming into force.  The (currently draft) Regulations bringing the new rights into force confirm the "protected period" will include pregnancy and a period of up to 18 months following the birth or placement for adoption of a child.

Changes to paternity leave

The draft Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 were published in January 2024.  They confirm that changes to paternity leave are to take effect for leave following a birth where the expected date of childbirth is on or after 7 April 2024; and for leave following adoption where the actual date of placement is on or after 6 April 2024.  Paternity leave is to become more flexible allowing eligible employees to take the leave in two separate blocks of a week and at any time during the first 12 months following birth or adoption.  Notice provisions are also to be changed to aid the flexibility.  


Allocation of tips

New rules requiring employers to ensure that all qualifying tips are "allocated fairly" between workers and within a set timescale are expected to come fully into force on 1 July 2024.  The Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023 also require employers with businesses where tips are paid on a more than occasional and exceptional basis to have a written policy on how it deals with tips.

Right to request a more predictable working pattern

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 provides a statutory right for eligible workers and agency workers to request a predictable working pattern.  The right to request is modelled on the existing flexible working regime and has a 26 week service requirement.  ACAS published a consultation on a draft Code of Practice on handling requests under the Act that will close on 17 January 2024.

Duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace

The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023 will take effect in October 2024.  It introduces a duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.  Where a complaint of sexual harassment is made to an employment tribunal, and it is found that the employer has breached the duty compensation may be uplifted by up to 25%.

Neonatal leave and pay

The Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023 introduces a right to up to 12 weeks of leave for parents of children receiving neonatal care.  The leave will be paid if parents meet qualifying criteria.  The right will come into force in April 2025.

Post termination non-compete clauses restriction

It was announced by the UK Government in May 2023 that post termination non-compete restrictions are to be limited to three months.  However, as the current timescale for implementation is "when parliamentary time allows" it remains to be seen whether this proposal will be progressed before the next general election.

Misuse of non-disclosure agreements

"When parliamentary time allows" is also the timescale for implementation of legislation to curb the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) in employment contracts and settlement agreements.  The UK Government have confirmed that the legislation will ensure:-

  • Confidentiality clauses cannot prevent disclosures to police, regulated health and care professionals or legal professionals;
  • The limitations of the clause are clear to those signing them; and
  • Improved independent legal advice is available to those signing a settlement agreement.

Guidance on drafting requirements will also be introduced as will new enforcement measures for confidentially clauses that do not comply with legal requirements.  This proposal has not progressed within the last 12 months and it remains to be seen whether it will do so prior to any general election.

Replacing striking employees with agency workers

After the quashing of Regulations intended to allow the use of agency workers to cover the roles of striking workers due to a lack of consultation, a consultation on exactly that point was published at the end of 2023.  While this suggests an intention to re-introduce similar regulations, further challenges by the unions and a potential change of UK Government following the next general election, mean this may never happen.

Pensions auto-enrolment

Major changes are to be introduced to widen the age and earnings scope of automatic enrolment over the next 2 to 3 years.  The Pensions (Extension of Automatic Enrolment) Act 2023 provides for the abolition of the lower earnings limit threshold as it applies to automatic enrolment and the reduction of the eligibility age for being automatically enrolled into a qualifying workplace pension scheme from twenty two to eighteen.  A phased implementation is expected.


Where we have covered these cases in the past, more details on the facts and the judgments that have been appealed can be obtained by clicking on the links below.

There are a number of high profile cases due to be heard in 2024, most notably:-

Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers & Ors v Tesco Stores Ltd is due to be heard by the Supreme Court on 24 & 25 January.  The High Court had granted an injunction that prevented Tesco from terminating and then re-engaging warehouse operatives which they were doing as a way of removing a permanent contractual entitlement to enhanced pay.  The Court of Appeal allowed an appeal against that decision, overturning the injunction. 

Hope v British Medical Association is due to be heard by the Court of Appeal on a date yet to be fixed.  It is an appeal against a finding that a claimant was fairly dismissed for bringing numerous vexatious grievances and then refusing to attend a grievance hearing.  Our summary of the EAT judgment is available here.

UPDATE - it is understood this case has settled and the appeal will not be proceeding, leaving the EAT judgment as the final word on the matter.

An appeal to the EAT has also been lodged in the case of Bailey v Stonewall Equality Ltd.  Ms Bailey's high profile claim that she had been discriminated against due to her gender critical beliefs was successful against the barristers' chambers where she worked, Garden Court, but her related claim that Stonewall Equality Ltd ("Stonewall") had instructed or induced the discrimination by Garden Court was dismissed.  It is the dismissal of the claim against Stonewall that is being appealed.   The appeal is due to be heard in May 2024.

Although we do not usually highlight cases that are yet to be heard by an Employment Tribunal, the case of Manjang v Uber Eats UK Ltd and others and Raja v Uber are likely to receive significant press coverage.  Both of these cases allege that Uber's use of a facial recognition system to verify the identity of drivers is indirectly racially discriminatory.  Both claimants are being supported by their unions.

During the course of 2024 we should also see judgments handed down in relation to a number of cases of interest that were heard in 2023.  These include:-

Mercer v Alternative Future Group Ltd and another was heard by the Supreme Court on 12 & 13 December 2023.  The case concerns the extent of protection from detriment short of dismissal for employees taking part in or organising strike action that is available under section 146 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

Bathgate v Technip UK Ltd was heard in the Court of Session on 23 November 2023 and concerns whether a qualifying settlement agreement can settle future discrimination claims unknown to the parties at the time of entering into the agreement.

UPDATE - The Court of Session, overturning the EAT judgment, held that a settlement agreement can validly compromise a future complaint under the Equality Act 2010 if there is a sufficient description of it in the claims waived.  The Courts view was that the requirement for a valid settlement to relate to a "particular complaint" did not mean the complaint must have been known of or its grounds be in existence at the time the settlement agreement was entered into.  It just requires the complaint that is subsequently made to be covered by the terms of the contract between the parties.

HMRC v Professional Game Match Officials Ltd ("PGMOL") is a tax case, but of some interest due to its subject being that of employment status.  The Supreme Court heard the case on 26 & 27 June 2023. The case is an appeal against a decision that certain football referees were not employees of PGMOL, and the judgment is awaited.

The EAT judgment in the case of McClung v Doosan Babcock Ltd & Others that concerned whether supporting a football team amounts to a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010 is also awaited


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