There’s a common saying that you wait all day for a bus, and then three come along at once, and the same can be said for the year ahead in the employment law landscape. Although there’s a lot more than just three new laws coming next year!

Many HR professionals will struggle to remember a time when there has been so much new  legislation spanning a variety of areas taking effect so close together.

Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula, looks back at the HR trends we saw in 2023 and ahead to the changes we can expect in 2024.

What did HR learn in 2023?

2023 was a busy year for HR with many controversies, buzzwords, and legal changes hitting the headlines.

One of the biggest controversies happened after the Women’s World Cup final. Our Lionesses had just missed out on the trophy after a phenomenal campaign, and the Spanish women’s team were supposed to have the best day of their professional career. But their achievement was overshadowed when the President of the Spanish Football Federation, Luis Rubiales, kissed team captain Jenni Hermoso during the award presentation.

Hermoso said the kiss was both unsolicited and unwanted, sparking outrage in the press and online. Instead of focusing on the Spanish players’ historic achievement, the headlines were dominated by sexual harassment and discussion around appropriate conduct in the workplace.

This was a theme that, unfortunately, remained prevalent throughout the year, with high-profile celebrities, and large corporations like McDonalds finding themselves at the centre of allegations into bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment in the workplace. It shouldn’t take a high-profile investigation to root out behaviours like this; there is clearly more work to be done by employers and HR in 2024 to ensure that there is no place for harassment of any kind in the modern workplace.

Office working is on the rise

Flexible, remote and hybrid working continues to be a high priority for many employees, but more employers are looking to move back to full-time in-person working. It’s clear that this will continue to be a hotly contested area, with job seekers prioritising flexibility and new legislation giving employees the right to request flexible working from the first day of employment.

The Flexible Working Bill

The Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 is due to take effect. From the 6 April 2024, employees the current provision requiring employees to have at least 26 weeks’ service before making a flexible working request will be removed. More big changes to the flexible working procedure will happen, most probably on the same date, but we’re still awaiting confirmation of that.

The right to request flexible work is a very well established, well used employment right and this new law is going to be a massive change for employers and employees alike.

What about the cost-of-living crisis?

The ongoing cost-of-living crisis has affected employers and employees alike. Rising costs have meant many businesses have been forced to make redundancies or cut back on employee hours. Both employers and employees are financially stretched, with pay increase requests on the rise. Over the last year, we’ve seen employers get creative with their benefits and reward packages, looking to add value to employees where they are unable to give pay rises.

As we move into 2024, there will be some relief for employees with National Living Wage set to see one of its biggest increases in recent years. In the Chancellor’s Autum Statement it was announced that this would increase to £11.44 per hour, up from the current £10.43. It will also apply to everyone aged 21 and over for the first time, a change from the current 23 years of age and over. Many employers, especially small business owners, have already said they will struggle to meet this increase, which could lead to further redundancies as they look to cut costs.

The cost-of-living and financial concerns also took a toll on peoples’ mental health, and we’ve seen an increase in the number of high-profile people suffering from imposter syndrome. This term refers to people who do not feel qualified enough or able to do the role that they were employed to do. They question their expertise, which creates an immense amount of anxiety. Employers should have support in place through an EAP to ensure the mental wellbeing of their workforce.

Quiet quitting

Quiet quitting was a big trend that emerged this year. The phrase was coined to describe those who do the bare minimum at work, usually in response to feeling exploited or mistreated by their employer.

Another trend that originated on TikTok was ‘lazy girl jobs’. This primarily refers to women who work in jobs that are deemed ‘easy’, usually in the creative industry. While many social media influencers proudly declared themselves ‘lazy girls’, the phrase is widely seen as problematic due to the sexist undertones that come from men in the same roles not being targeted.

AI and HR

Finally we simply cannot do a round-up of 2023 without mentioning AI, which has emerged as one of the most exciting technical prospects of the year. While some people still question its place and legality in business there is no question that it has already changed the business landscape. 35 percent of companies are already reportedly using AI technology in their business.

2024 looks set to be another busy year for HR professionals, and there’s already a lot to digest. New types of leave are coming into law, including Carer’s Leave and leave for parents whose child is receiving neo-natal care. There won’t be an employer in the land who already has a policy in place that meets the requirements of the new Carer’s leave law. This will, therefore, require them to create brand new policies ahead of the 6 April deadline.

The right for those on maternity leave to be offered suitable alternative employment, before others, in a redundancy situation will be extended. This will now start when an employee tells their employer that they are pregnant and continue until 18 months after the birth or adoption.

All employers will be under a new obligation to prevent harassment so making sure that proactive steps are taken will be crucial. And new legislation for the hospitality industry means that tips will have to be allocated fairly to all staff.

There’s a lot to take in. Understanding these changes and new rights will therefore be the first step for employers.

Updates to processes and systems will then need to take place. Will the absence management system, for example, cope with employees taking new types of leave? Do managers appreciate the new ways that flexible working requests will need to be handled?

Policies will need updating and managers training to ensure they are aware of all upcoming changes. This is an exciting time to work in HR. It’s important that employers are prepared in order to avoid both financial and reputational damage in the year ahead.


Kate Palmer is the HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula.





Kate Palmer is HR Advice and Consultancy Director at global employment law consultancy, Peninsula.
Kate joined in 2009 from a worldwide facility services company where she was Senior HR Manager. Her exploits included providing HR & employment law support to over 30 UK hospitals and dealing with high profile NHS union cases—expertise she now brings to Peninsula clients.
Today, Kate is involved in all aspects of HR and employment law advice.