Jackie Le Poidevin, Editor-in-Chief, HR Adviser


Keep Track of What’s on the Horizon in April for HR Practitioners

Each April, HR practitioners need to ensure they’re complying with the new statutory pay rates and check they’ve submitted their gender pay gap report (if applicable). This year, a host of new employment laws is also coming into effect in the same month. We summarise the main changes and tasks you need to keep on top of in the next few weeks.

National Minimum Wage (NMW)

On 1 April, the following changes take effect:

  • The national living wage (NLW) increases to £11.44 and you must pay this to all employees aged 21 and over. The current NLW rate is £10.42 and is only for employees aged 23 and over.
  • The national minimum wage (NMW) for 18-20 year olds rises from £7.49 to £8.60.
  • The rate for 16-17 year olds and the apprentice rate rise from £5.28 to £6.40.

Holiday Rules

For holiday years commencing on or after 1 April, any irregular-hours or part-year workers will accrue statutory holiday entitlement at a rate of 12.07% of the hours they have worked during that pay period. This is subject to a cap so they can’t accrue more than 28 days’ holiday a year.

You can also choose to give such workers rolled-up statutory holiday pay at the same rate.

There’s new guidance on the changes on

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

If your company or charity has 250 or more employees, you must submit your 2023-24 gender pay gap report by 4 April. For public sector employers, the date is 30 March.

Carer’s Leave

From 6 April, employees in England, Scotland and Wales gain the right to 1 week’s unpaid leave a year to care for, or arrange care for, a dependant with a long-term care need. They can take the leave flexibly but must take at least half a day’s leave at a time (based on their usual working day). This is a right from Day 1 of employment.

Flexible Working

From 6 April, the right to request flexible working becomes a Day 1 right. Employees can also make two requests in any 12-month period, instead of the current one and you must respond within 2 months, instead of the current 3. You must also consult an employee if you intend to reject their request.

An updated comes into effect at the same time.

Paternity Leave

More flexible paternity leave rules apply where the expected week of childbirth falls on or after 6 April. Fathers or partners can split their statutory leave into two blocks of a week and take these at any point in the first year after the child’s birth or adoption. They only need to give a minimum of 28 days’ notice for each period of leave.

Statutory Pay Increases

On 6 April, statutory sick pay increases from £109.40 to £116.75 a week.

Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental leave and parental bereavement leave pay rise to £184.03 per week or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. The rate for first 6 weeks of maternity or adoption leave remains at 90% of average weekly earnings.

Redundancy and Unfair Dismissal Payments

For redundancies taking place on or after 6 April, the rate of a week’s pay (which is used to calculate statutory redundancy payments) increases to £700.

The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissals that take place on or after the same date rises to £115,115.

These are 8.9% increases, in line with the retail prices index.

Extended Redundancy Protections

From 6 April, the right to be offered a suitable alternative vacancy in a redundancy situation will apply from the point an employee informs you she is pregnant. Employees returning from maternity leave, shared parental leave or adoption leave will have this right to priority treatment until 18 months after the EWC, birth or adoption date.

What to Do Now

  • Familiarise yourself with the new Government guidance and Code of Practice.
  • Update your policies and practices and communicate the changes to staff and managers.
  • Submit your gender pay gap report if applicable.

There’s more information on the new laws taking effect in April in your next HR Adviser Special Issue. A new model Carer’s Leave Policy and Flexible Working Policy is available soon on your Online Resource Centre at:



Emma Lampka, Editorial Board Member, Health & Safety Adviser and Risk Assessment & Compliance


£400k Fine After Worker Sustains Severe Burns: 5 Steps to CoSHH Safety

INEOS has been fined £400,000 after an employee was seriously injured while carrying out a routine task at its chemicals site in Grangemouth, Scotland. The worker was attempting to clear a sump containing a caustic solution but fell into the sump due to inadequate grating. He sustained severe burn injuries. Regardless of whether you have a sump arrangement like this within your business or not, all organisations must ensure they comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (CoSHH) Regulations 2002, which we outline here.

Many materials or substances used or created at work could harm your health. These include dusts, gases or fumes that you breathe in, or liquids, gels or powders that come into contact with the eyes or skin. Harmful substances can be present in anything from paints and cleaners to flour dust, solder fume, blood or waste. There could also be harmful micro-organisms present that can cause infection, an allergic reaction or are toxic.

Ill health caused by these substances is preventable. Many substances can harm health but, used properly, they almost never do. To comply with the CoSHH regulations and keep your employees safe, follow these simple steps:

1. Find Out the Health Hazards

This is very easy; there will be key information on the substance container including symbols and details of the health hazard, along with more detailed information found in the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSD), which you can request from your supplier or even Google it as they are readily available.

2. Conduct a CoSHH Risk Assessment

As an employer, you’re required by law to protect your employees, and others, from harm. Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the minimum you must do is:

  • Identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (i.e. the hazards).
  • Decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk).
  • Take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk.

Assessing risk is just one part of the overall process used to control risks in your workplace. If you don’t have anyone ‘competent’ to carry out a CoSHH risk assessment, either use an external consultant and ensuring that employees are trained will help.

3. Introduce Control Measures to Reduce Harm to Health

Simple control measures could include:

  • Ensuring that you only retain the amount of substances to a minimum.
  • Keep all substances under lock and key in suitable storage unitsg. flammable liquids should be in a flam cabinet which is usually painted yellow, made from metal and is lockable.
  • Ensure you do not store substances that react with each other in the same storage unit/cabinet. This can be identified through the MSD for guidance on what substances can and cannot be stored together.
  • Provide the details of the CoSHH assessment and control measures to your employees.

4. Provide Information, Instruction and Training

Ensure you provide the information from the CoSHH assessment, the control measures and training for workers on how to store, transport, use and dispose of substances.

5. Providing Monitoring and Health Surveillance

Where substances are identified as hazardous to health, providing occupational health surveillance will enable you to monitor if your employees’ health is being affected by the substances they are using.


    Sarah Bradford, Editor-in-Chief, Pay & Benefits Adviser

    Get Ready for the Further Reduction in Employees’ National Insurance

    As was widely predicted, the Chancellor announced a further 2% cut in the main primary rate of Class 1 National Insurance contributions. The rate cut will take effect from 6 April 2024. This means that for the 2024/25 tax year, employees will pay National Insurance at a rate of only 8% on their earnings to the extent that they fall between the primary threshold and the upper earnings limit.


    At the time of the 2023 Autumn Statement, the Chancellor reduced the primary rate of Class 1 National Insurance contributions from 12% to 10% with effect from 6 January 2024. The rate was due to remain at 10% for the 2024/25 tax year.

    However, in the Budget, the Chancellor announced that the rate is to be reduced by a further 2% to 8%. This will save employees with earnings in excess of the primary threshold up to £754 in National Insurance contributions.

    Understand Employee Contributions for 2024/25

    For 2024/25, employed earners will pay primary contributions at the main rate of 8% on earnings between the primary threshold and the upper earnings limit and at 2% on earnings in excess of the upper earnings limit. Employees whose earnings are below the primary threshold but at least equal to the lower earnings limit, are treated as paying notional contributions at a zero rate. This provides them with a qualifying year for state pension and contributory benefit purposes.

    For 2024/25, the lower earnings limit is set at £123 per week (£533 per month; £6,396 per year), the primary threshold is set at £242 per week (£1,048 per month; £12,570 per year) and the upper earnings limit is set at £967 per week (£4,189 per month; £50,270 per year).

    Employer Contributions

    There was no reduction in the employer’s (secondary) rate which remains at 13.8% for 2024/25. Employer contributions are payable on earnings in excess of the secondary threshold, which remains at £175 per week (£758 per month; £9,100 per year).

    A higher secondary threshold of £967 (£4,189 per month; £50,270 per year) applies where the employed earner is under 21, an apprentice under the age of 25 or an armed forced veteran in the first year of their first civilian employment since leaving the armed forces. Where the employed earner is employed in a Special Tax Site and is in the first 36 months of their employment, secondary contributions are only payable to the extent that their earnings exceed £481 per week (£2,083 per month; £25,000 per year).

    Employment Allowance

    Employers are entitled to an Employment Allowance of up to £5,000 as long as their secondary Class 1 National Insurance liability was less than £100,000 in 2023/24 and they are not otherwise excluded from claiming the allowance.

    The allowance is set against their secondary liability for the year. If their secondary Class 1 liability is less than £5,000, the allowance is capped at their liability for the year.

    The Employment Allowance is not given automatically and must be claimed through the employer’s RTI payroll software. Claiming the allowance at the start of the year means employers can benefit from it straightaway.