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Round up of 2023 employment law

December 2023

As 2023 draws to an end, the employment team at Lawrence Stephens examines employment law developments of 2023 and what we’re expecting in 2024.

Holiday and holiday pay

Changes have also been made to the Working Time Regulations 1998.

All employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ annual leave entitlement per leave year. The 5.6 weeks is split into two ‘pots’: one pot of ordinary leave, which is four weeks, and one pot of 1.6 weeks additional leave.

Ordinary annual leave should be paid at the employee’s ‘normal’ rate of pay. This does not necessarily apply to the additional leave.

The government is amending regulations to set out what elements of pay are to be included as ‘normal’ for the purposes of the first four weeks’ leave entitlement. Unfortunately, the regulations do not list specific payments that should be included, and instead refer to certain categories, including:

  • payments, including commission payments, which are ‘intrinsically linked’ to the performance of tasks that a worker is contractually obliged to carry out;
  • payments for professional or personal status relating to length of service, seniority or professional qualification; and
  • other payments, such as overtime payments, which have been regularly paid to a worker in the 52 weeks preceding the calculation.

As per previous case law, results-based commission, certain overtime payments, allowances, etc., will still be caught, however there is still uncertainty about payments such as annual or semi-annual bonuses, and it remains to be seen whether this amendment changes much.

For irregular hours workers and part-year workers (both now defined in the regulations), the government is also introducing a new method to calculate their holiday entitlement. Essentially, an irregular hour worker or a part-year worker accrues annual leave at the rate of 12.07% of the number of hours worked, subject to a maximum of 28 days per leave year. A worker will be an ‘irregular hours worker’ if the number of paid hours that they work is ‘wholly or mostly variable’. A worker will be a ‘part-year worker’ if they are required to work only part of that year and there are periods of at least a week in which they are not required to work (and for which they are not paid). This change is intended to address the issues caused by the Supreme Court’s decision in Harpur Trust v. Brazel, in which it held that part-year workers were entitled to 5.6 weeks’ leave per year, irrespective of the hours they worked. 

The government is also introducing ‘rolled up holiday pay’ for irregular hours workers and part-year workers. Rolled up holiday pay is a system under which a worker’s holiday pay is included in their basic pay, rather than paying them when their holiday is actually taken. The practice has been unlawful since 2006 but will now be lawful under the updated regulations.

These changes come into force on 1 January 2024 for holiday years commencing on or after 1 April 2024.


The government has announced its intention to change the transfer of undertaking consultation obligations so that there can be direct consultation with affected staff for businesses with fewer than 50 employees, or businesses of any size with fewer than 10 transferring employees. This assumes in both cases that no existing employee representatives are already in place. The regulations are expected to come into force on 1 January 2024 and the changes will apply to transfers that take place on or after 1 July 2024.

National Insurance and Minimum Wage

Class 1 employee NICs will be cut from 12% to 10% from 6 January 2024.

The NICs holiday for veterans in their first year of civilian employment will be extended to 5 April 2025.

For the self-employed, Class 2 NICs will be abolished, and the main rate of Class 4 self-employed NICs reduced from 9% to 8%, from 6 April 2024.

New national minimum wage rates to apply from 1 April 2024 have also been announced, along with a change to the threshold for being eligible for the highest rate. Over 21s will now be entitled to £11.44 per hour, with 18- to 20-year-olds being entitled to £8.60 per hour. 16- to 17-year-olds and apprentices will be entitled to £6.40 per hour.

Fire and rehire

The government has issued a draft Code of Practice on dismissal and re-engagement. It is designed to cover situations such those seen recently with P&O, where an employer makes changes to terms and conditions by dismissing employees under their old contracts and offers to re-engage them on new contracts (with less favourable terms and conditions).

The aim of the code is to clarify how employers should behave when seeking to change employees’ terms and conditions of employment. A court or tribunal will be able to take the code into account when considering relevant cases and they will have the power to increase an employee’s compensation by up to 25% if an employer unreasonably fails to comply with the code. They could also decrease any award by up to 25% where an employee has unreasonably failed to comply.

The consultation on the Code closed on 18 April 2023 and it is anticipated that the government’s response will be delivered in Spring 2024. While the code is still in draft form it is not binding, but any proposed fire and rehire processes should be carefully considered in the meantime.

Flexible working

The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 come into force on 6 April 2024. The regulations amend the existing Flexible Working Regulations 2014 so that the right to make a flexible working application becomes a ‘day one right’ on 6 April 2024. Currently employees must have 26 weeks’ continuous service to make a flexible working request under the legislation (however, nothing prevents employers and employees agreeing flexible working arrangements between themselves, whether formally through contractual variations, or informally). 

It is assumed that the other flexible working reforms contained in the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023 will also commence on that date, but this has not yet been confirmed. These reforms will:

  • allow employees to make two flexible working applications every 12 months instead of one;
  • remove the requirement for employees to have to explain what effect they think their flexible working request will have on the employer;
  • require employers to consult with the employee before refusing their flexible working application; and
  • require employers to respond to flexible working requests within two months instead of three months.

Carer’s leave

The draft Carers’ Leave Act 2023 (Commencement) Regulations 2023 have been published, bringing the Carers’ Leave Act 2023 into force from 6 April 2024.

The draft regulations set out important detail relating to the Act. They state that the legislation will cover employees in England, Wales and Scotland. To be entitled to the provision, employees need to be providing long term care. Carer’s leave will be able to be taken in half or full days, up to and including taking a block of a whole week of leave at once. In a similar way to other types of leave, the notice an employee needs to give to take the leave is twice the length of time that needs to be taken. Leave requests do not need to be made in writing.

Employees taking carer’s leave will have the same employment protections associated with other forms of family related leave. This includes protection from dismissal or detriment as a result of having taken the leave.

The draft regulations still need to be passed by Parliament and it is also expected that guidance will be made available before 6 April.

Strike action

The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023 was passed in July. The act gives powers to make regulations to set minimum service levels in certain industries during strike action. The government has now made regulations under these powers to set minimum service levels for ambulance, railway and border security staff. Although the regulations are not yet in force, they are expected to be by the end of the year. A draft code of practice has also been laid before Parliament, but no minimum service levels are yet in force.