Atlas Insights: UK expands rights surrounding flexible work, and other updates - April 2024

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Published: 29 Apr 2024

United Kingdom - Several changes to employment law take effect from 6 April 2024

Flexible Work: Under the Employment Rights (Flexible Working) Act 2023, employees can now make two requests per year for flexible working arrangements, with a reduced response time from employers from three months to two months. Denial of requests must be accompanied by explanations, although employers can still cite reasons such as business cost or impact on performance. 

Carer’s Leave: The Carer’s Leave Act 2023 grants employees one week of unpaid leave annually to care for dependents, with immediate entitlement upon employment commencement. This provision extends to caring for spouses, children, or dependents with disabilities or illnesses requiring substantial care.

Pregnant employees now enjoy increased redundancy protection 18 months from the date of pregnancy notification

Redundancy Protection: Pregnant employees will now enjoy increased redundancy protection for 18 months from the date of pregnancy notification due to the Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023. Previously, employees only had this protection during their period of maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave.

Paternity Leave: Amendments to paternity leave now allow for greater flexibility, permitting employees to split their two-week entitlement into separate one-week blocks within the first year after childbirth. Prior to 6 April 2024, employees had to give employers at least 15 weeks' notice prior to the due date, detailing when they want their paternity leave to start and how much leave they want. After 6 April 2024, employees must now give employers at least 15 weeks' notice before the baby is expected. They must also tell employers when they want their leave to start, and how much leave they want to take, at least 28 days before.

These changes reflect ongoing efforts to adapt employment legislation to modern workplace dynamics, fostering a more equitable and supportive environment for workers across various life stages and circumstances.

Implication for employers: With several changes effective in the UK from April 2024, employers must stay informed about these changes and update their policies and practices accordingly to ensure employee inclusivity and flexibility.  

Implication for employers: As of 6 April 2024, employers must consult with employees before refusing a flexible working request. Employers need to be aware that they now only have two months to make a decision. Previously, employers were required to decide within three months of the request being made.  

Nigeria – Digital access to immigration documents

Nigeria has introduced a revolutionary new policy enabling individuals to obtain immigration documents online. This transformative shift marks a significant departure from traditional, paper-based processes, offering citizens and foreign residents' greater convenience and efficiency in managing their immigration affairs.

This shift to online immigration services signifies a bold step towards modernization and efficiency, simplifying the application process for a range of essential documents, including visas, residence permits, and work permits. Applicants can now access and complete necessary forms from the comfort of their homes or offices, reducing the time and resources spent on manual submissions.

The digital system also facilitates faster processing times, allowing authorities to manage applications more efficiently. The new digital platform enables users to access immigration service’s 24/7, eliminating the need for physical visits to immigration offices.

Implication for employers: Digital access to immigration documents improves accessibility for both employees and employers. It is cost effective and time effective as well. In recent years, we have seen an increase in digital signatures, especially after the COVID pandemic. Embracing digital solutions for immigration document management allows organisations to streamline their processes and improve efficiency.

Immigration service’s 24/7 access for users to the immigration platform

Legal Implications: As personal information is a crucial component of immigration applications, the government must adhere to robust data protection measures. Given the sensitive nature of immigration documents, ensuring the highest standards of cybersecurity is imperative. The government must implement robust cybersecurity measures to protect the online platform from potential cyber threats and data breaches. The government must ensure that the online system is accessible to all citizens and foreign residents, taking into account factors such as digital literacy, internet access, and language barriers. 

Cambodia - Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training issue compensation for terminating an employment contract  

Beginning March 21, 2024, if an employment contract has been terminated by an employer without a valid reason and the employee did not commit any serious misconduct as defined under the relevant article of the Labour Law, the employer must compensate the employee. The compensation varies based on the type of contract.

  • For fixed-duration contracts, compensation includes unpaid wages, unused annual leave, severance payment (at least 5% of wages), and damages for early termination.

  • For unspecified-duration contracts, compensation includes unpaid wages, unused annual leave, notice compensation if applicable, seniority indemnity, and damages for termination.

  • In cases of serious misconduct, compensation is limited to unpaid wages and unused annual leave.

Implication for employers: Employers must adhere to legal requirements regarding termination and compensation for employees and carefully assess their termination procedures. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in financial penalties and legal consequences.

Implication for employers: Employers must adhere to legal requirements regarding termination and compensation for employees and carefully assess their termination procedures. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in financial penalties and legal consequences.  

Current Affairs - India plans to shift from minimum wage to living wage in 2025 

The Indian government is seeking assistance from the International Labour Organization (ILO) to establish a framework for implementing a living wage by 2025. There have been no changes made in the national wage floor in India since 2017. Living wages, designed to exceed basic minimum wages, are intended to provide workers with income sufficient to cover essential social expenditures such as housing, food, healthcare, education, and clothing. 

Experts believe this shift will bring millions out of poverty. Inconsistencies in implementing wage regulations across states have caused wage discrepancies. By 2030, India plans to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while also focusing on better work opportunities and economic growth.

Adopting living wages would be pivotal for India to achieve its sustainable development goals, cater to the aspirations of its vast working population, and facilitate upward mobility. While higher standards of living could yield positive spillover effects in the economy, including increased consumption and improved skill development, this transition alone may not suffice to narrow India’s significant and widening inequality gap. Nonetheless, it would elevate more individuals to a higher economic starting point.

Critics argue that the current method of determining minimum wages fails to reflect changes in spending patterns and economic conditions.

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