As the clock ticks down to the implementation of a series of significant employment law reforms on 6th April, a substantial number of employers find themselves inadequately prepared, with over 20 percent of businesses admitting to being unready for the impending changes.

The revelations stem from a recent survey conducted by WorkNest, an employment law and HR consultancy firm, which polled nearly 300 HR professionals about their readiness for imminent shifts in workplace legislation.

The changes encompass new regulations concerning leave for carers, enhanced maternity and paternity leave protections, and revisions to flexible working rights.

Least Prepared for Redundancy Rights Change

The survey highlighted a specific lack of preparedness among employers for a new law aimed at bolstering redundancy protection for pregnant workers and those on family leave. Starting April 6th, this extended protection will cover all expectant employees from the moment they disclose their pregnancy until their baby reaches 18 months old.

A concerning 38 percent of respondents admitted to being unprepared for this significant change, while an additional 37 percent acknowledged actively working towards readiness but not being there yet.

Employers Also Unprepared for New Carers Leave Law

Another area causing concern is a new law granting employees with long-term caring responsibilities the right to a week of unpaid leave. Shockingly, only nine percent of surveyed employers claimed to be fully prepared for this law, potentially impacting millions of unpaid carers in the UK.

Matter of Weeks to Be Ready

While most of these reforms officially commence on 6th April, some will be applicable before this date. For example, a law allowing fathers and partners to take paternity leave as two non-consecutive weeks will be effective from 8th March. The poll indicates that almost one-quarter of employers are unprepared for this change, with just under half being ‘somewhat prepared.’

Facing up to Flexibility

There is slightly more readiness for the introduction of the new right for employees to request flexible working from day one of their employment. Just over one in five respondents claimed to be very prepared for this change, while just under one in five admitted to being unprepared.

David Eastwood, Head of Team and Solicitor at WorkNest, expressed concern:

“The clock is ticking for employers to be ready for this legislation. We haven’t seen anything like this number of changes to employment law for some time, so it is no wonder many employers and HR professionals are struggling to get to grips with it all. Many of these areas of legislation are complex and it can be difficult to know where to begin.”

Eastwood urged employers to take immediate action, emphasising the importance of reviewing policies, processes, contracts, and operational systems. He also recommended training for managers to ensure compliance with the new legislation.

He concluded, “With a General Election on the horizon, further changes could be around the corner, and we know that HR professionals are concerned about the prospect of this. We all need to stand ready to deal with whatever might come our way, but for the time being, these new laws are on the statute books, and so employers must be ready to comply with them or risk potential legal consequences.”





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.