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Minister Hollinrake: changes to employment law April 2024

"It's a right to request, it's not a right to insist," Hollinrake said of the new day-one right to request flexible working

Speaking exclusively to HR magazine, Kevin Hollinrake MP, minister of state for business and trade, shared insight into the changes to employment law that came into force on 6 April 2024.

These included the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act; the Carer’s Leave Act and the Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act.

HR magazine spoke to Hollinrake to find out what the government hoped these changes would mean for the UK workforce.


Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act


HR magazine: Maternity Action described the Act as a ‘mirage’ of protection for pregnant employees, explaining that it’s unlikely new parents will bring forward an expensive tribunal claim after returning from parental leave. 

How will you encourage businesses to remain compliant up to the full six months of protection that the Act offers?

Hollinrake: Most businesses do the right thing; they understand the need for protections for their workers, and most employers offer that as a matter of course, anyway. This is really just trying to make sure that all employers do what good employers do.

Employment in the UK is governed ultimately by an employment tribunal, so there is that backstop. If things do go wrong, an employee can take their employer to a tribunal, if they can't resolve matters elsewhere. There are also organisations like Acas, that could try to resolve things through early conciliation.


HR magazine: The Protection Against Redundancy Act has been described as a ‘headache for employers’.

What help are you offering businesses in implementing this change? 

Hollinrake: We don't want that to be the case. We think we struck a good balance for people who need protection when they become pregnant or when they return to work. 

It really is just an extension to the existing requirements that cover maternity cover, but we think it should be straightforward to administer.

Read more: Thousands of unpaid carers leaving the workplace

Carer’s Leave Act

HR magazine: Wendy Chamberlain MP, who introduced the bill in the House of Commons, has said that she would like to see carer’s leave doubled to 10 days, and paid.

With many businesses already going beyond the legislated allowance for carer’s leave, what do you hope this amendment will change?

Hollinrake: The point with all our legislation is we're setting the standard for the floor, not the ceiling; many employers do this already. Many employers provide flexible ways to work, and provide time off when you have certain things going on in your life.

What we’re trying to say to all employers is that it is a reasonable thing – for somebody who does care for somebody close to them – to give that time off in a flexible way, subject to sensible things like reasonable notice periods, so that those people can cover their caring responsibilities while still working. 

Read more: Employees unaware of new day one right to request flexible working

Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act


HR magazine: The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said it hopes the Flexible Working Act will normalise conversations around flexibility at work. But a recent survey (4 April) by savings and retirement service Phoenix Group showed that more than half (56%) of employees said their managers still had not discussed flexible working with them. 

How will you encourage businesses to signpost to employees their day one right to flexible working? 

Hollinrake: That’s precisely why we’re legislating. A lot of employers don’t always think about the home lives and the outside lives of some of their employees, and it's a good thing to do, so having this right encourages the conversation [around flexible working]. 

It’s a right to request, it's not a right to insist. You can request it twice a year now, rather than just once, and some of the requirements placed on the employer have been eased a little bit. 

But again, there are simple grounds for refusal. If it doesn't work for the employer then that has to come first.

For employers, both small and large, one of the biggest challenges is recruiting good people into the workforce. 

We think these changes together with some tax changes – the reduction in national insurance – will have a very beneficial impact in bringing about 300,000 more people back into the workplace, UK citizens, which is going to be really good news.