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Lewis Silkin – Legal Update


At Searchlight & Lumina’s recent HR Forum, our long-term partners, Lewis Silkin gave their annual employment law update. This year Lee Nair delivered an insightful update highlighting this year’s most important changes.

Family Rights and Protections

Extended Redundancy Protection:

A significant update is the extension of redundancy protection for those on maternity leave. Previously, women on maternity leave had preferential treatment if put at risk of redundancy. As of April 6, this protection extends from the point a woman announces her pregnancy until 18 months after the child’s birth. This change also applies to those on adoption leave and shared parental leave, although the latter comes with some peculiar conditions. If shared parental leave is taken for less than six weeks, protection lasts only for those six weeks. For periods longer than six weeks, the protection extends to 18 months post-birth.

Miscarriage Protections:

There are also specific protections for miscarriages. For miscarriages before 24 weeks, there’s protection from the notification of pregnancy to two weeks post-pregnancy. Miscarriages after 24 weeks are treated as maternity leave, with the same protections.

Premature Birth Leave:

An additional 12 weeks of leave is granted if a child is born prematurely and requires medical support. This ensures that parents are not forced to use their maternity leave during critical medical periods for their newborns.

Paternity Leave Adjustments:

Small changes to paternity leave rights now allow fathers to take leave in a more flexible manner throughout the first year of their child’s life, rather than being restricted to the initial two months.

Carers Leave

Recognition for Carers:

A new provision allows employees to take one week of unpaid leave if they have caring responsibilities for dependents. While it’s a modest change, it acknowledges the pressures faced by employees with such duties and applies from day one of employment.

Sexual Harassment

Proactive Duty for Employers:

There’s now a proactive duty for employers to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment. Previously, the focus was on a “reasonable steps” defence post-incident, but now employers must actively work to prevent harassment. Failure to comply can result in a 25% uplift in tribunal compensation.

Ethnicity Pay Gap Reporting

Non-Mandatory but Encouraged:

Although there’s no obligation for ethnicity pay gap reporting akin to gender pay gap reporting, guidance has been issued to help companies voluntarily report and address disparities. The government has recommended against broad categorisations like “white” and “non-white,” instead suggesting more nuanced groupings.

Holiday Pay

Rolled-Up Holiday Pay:

The government now permits rolled-up holiday pay for part-year and irregular-hours workers, a significant relief following the Supreme Court’s decision in Harper v Brazel. This allows employers to add a multiplier to salaries to account for holiday pay, simplifying payroll processes.

Inclusion of Commission and Overtime:

Holiday pay must include commission and regular overtime, aligning with the principle that employees should not be disincentivised from taking leave.

Flexible Working

Day One Right:

As of July, employees have the right to request flexible working from their first day of employment. The process for handling these requests has also been streamlined, reducing the decision period from three months to two, and allowing employees to make two requests within a 12-month period.

TUPE Changes

Consultation Requirements:

The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) require consultation with employee representatives during transfers. While previously there was an exemption for businesses with fewer than 10 employees, broader changes are expected to simplify these processes.


The landscape of employment law is rapidly evolving with numerous changes aimed at enhancing employee rights and protections. From extended family leave protections to proactive measures against harassment and improved flexibility in working arrangements, these updates reflect a growing recognition of diverse employee needs and the complexities of modern work environments. Employers must stay vigilant and adapt to these changes to ensure compliance and foster a supportive workplace culture.