UK employment law updates January 2024 - Change to redundancy processes | New paternity leave rights | Remote working’s 'detrimental impact on the quality of work’ | Plus, the sustainability reporting rules that need to be on your radar

In our January 2024 legal blog the CIPD explores how significant changes to family-friendly measures coming this April will impact your workplace. We look at two tribunal cases which should be considered when assessing flexible working and discrimination claims. Plus, the new sustainability reporting standards that could have a significant effect on your business.  

Shifting family-friendly protections in redundancy processes 

From April 2024 a raft of new family-friendly measures will benefit employees. One such law, the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023, will extend redundancy protections in the event of a restructure. The dates and rules of engagement are as follows:  

  • For notifications of pregnancy received on or after 6 April 2024 and for maternity leave ending on or after this date (therefore, potentially employees currently on such leave) pregnant employees will be given priority for redeployment offers in a redundancy situation from the point at which they inform the employer of their pregnancy, until 18 months after the birth of a child or Expected Week of Childbirth. In the instance of miscarriage, the individual is prioritised for redeployment offers from the point of notification of the pregnancy until two weeks after the loss of the child.  
  • Similarly, for adoption leave ending on or after 6 April 2024, these employees are prioritised for redeployment opportunities from the first day of adoption leave to 18 months after the date of the placement of the child.  
  • For a shared parental leave period of six continuous weeks or more, employees are eligible for priority for redeployment or 18 months from the child’s date of birth. 

 New right to flexible paternity 

The passing of the Paternity Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2024 give fathers and partners greater flexibility in how they take their statutory paternity leave (SPL). For people professionals, the rights and notice periods will mean a change to systems and processes. From 8 March 2024 (for children born or placed from 6 April 2024) these employees can now: 

  • Split the two weeks of statutory paternity leave into two separate week-long blocks at any point in the 12 months after birth or placement, should they wish (NOTE: This is a shift from the first 56 days after birth or placement).   
  • The notice period required for such leave reduces from 15 weeks before the Expected Week of Childbirth, to 28 days before each intended period of leave. 
  • If the employee wishes to vary the dates of any of the statutory paternity leave weeks, they can do so by giving 28 days' notice   

Tribunal deems remote working can have a detrimental effect on the ‘quality of work’ 

Many in the people profession are being increasingly challenged on the ‘rules and regulations’ around asking staff into the workplace. All cases depend on their individual merits.  

The case of Wilson v FCA (ET 2302739/2023) is hitting the headlines after being asked to consider whether a flexible working request was rightfully rejected based on the 'consideration of facts’ essence, were the reasons that the employer gave for rejecting the request valid? The reasons given by the employer included the potential detrimental impact of the lack of in-person collaboration and the fact that she would be unavailable for face-to-face training or coaching for team members.  

The tribunal held that the employer’s rejection of the remote working application was not based on incorrect facts and that the employer was entitled to decide that remote working could detrimentally impact performance. This case is interesting as it is one of the first to express an opinion on whether remote working can impact on quality of work. 

The context of the case and the reasons for the rejection of the claim can be found here  

How one employer’s wish to recruit ‘fewer white men’ was not discriminatory...  

In another interesting case that closed at the end of 2023, the Claimant took a prospective employer to tribunal after a comment during the interview process referencing the fact that the organisation wanted to hire ‘fewer white men’. The Claimant (a white man) alleged that he was not hired ‘because’ of this matter, however his claim failed since there were clear alternative reasons for not hiring him.  

If you do want to know how to avoid the potential pitfalls of promoting diversity, there are some notable implications for employers listed in the case notes.   

New sustainability reporting rules are here...  

January 2024 has seen the introduction of new EU Sustainability Reporting Standards. The standards are important for both EU companies and non-EU businesses operating, or intending to operate, in EU markets.  

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting directive (CSRD) requires companies to monitor and report on a vast array of policies and practices. Companies may need to invest in data systems and people analytics to capture these data points; the likes of workforce reporting on conditions, wages and work-life balance, or monitoring an organisations’ approach to gender equality and equal pay, with individual standards on each of the company's own workforce, value chain, affected communities and consumers / end users.  

The standards are imposed from 1 January 2024 financial year for organisations with 500+ employees, for annual reports published from 1 January 2025. Over the coming years, reporting will also be rolled out across other large companies, quoted organisations, small credit institutions and non-EU parent companies with an EU presence.  

This blog was published on 29 January 2024. The details are accurate at the time of writing. The CIPD maintains updated records of employment law legislation in the UK on a dedicated timetable.   

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