The HR year ahead: what are the key trends to watch?

As we wrap up 2023, we’re looking into the future to consider the employment developments we are likely to see in 2024.

We already know that 2024 is planned to be a big year with the introduction of many new pieces of employment legislation and we share our knowledge in these areas in this month’s Hot Topic along with developments in HR best practice.

2024 is also likely going to see a continuation of the cost-of-living crisis which is impacting both businesses and its employees and so we also share our thoughts on how this can be further supported.

We also envisage that staff planning, employee retention, recruitment and positioning the employer brand will continue to be key for many. We will therefore look at what these challenges and how employers can mitigate against them.

Employment Legislation

  • There is plenty of new and potential employment legislation on the horizon for 2024 and beyond.  At present, most of the new legislation is waiting on a commencement date, so we can only provide an indication based on what we have read in legal publications.  There are some pieces of new law however where we do already know when it is to come into force.Listed below are new pieces of legislation expected from late 2023 and beyond.
    Date in force Legislation
    Potential for December 2023 Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act 2023
    31 December 2023 The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023
    1 January 2024 The Employment Rights (Amendment, Revocation and Transitional Provision) Regulations 2023
    1 January 2024 The Equality Act 2010 (Amendment) Regulations 2023
    22 January 2024 The Immigration (Employment of Adults subject to immigration control) (Maximum penalty) (Amendment) Order 2014
    1 April 2024 The National Minimum Wage (Amendment) (No 2) Regulations 2023
    Potential for April 2024 Carer’s Leave Act 2023
    9 May 2024 The Trade Union (Deduction of Union Subscriptions from Wages in the Public Sector) Regulations 2023
    24 July 2024 The Protection from Redundancy (Pregnancy and Family Leave) Act 2023
    26 October 2024 The Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023
    Expected sometime in 2024 Employment (Allocation of Tips) Act 2023
    Expected sometime in 2024 Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act 2023
    Expected sometime in 2024 Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Act 2023
    Expected sometime in 2024 Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023
    Expected 2025, but could be earlier Neonatal Care (Leave and Pay) Act 2023
    6 April 2028 The normal minimum pension age (NMPA)

    In addition to new employment legislation, there are many Employment Bills progressing through parliament.  Not all Bills end up becoming law, but it is still helpful to know what could be on the horizon.  Listed below are just some of the Bills currently being debated in the House of Commons and House of Lords that relate to employment:

    • Artificial Intelligence (Regulations and Workers Rights) Bill
    • Asylum Seekers (Permission to Work) Bill
    • Bullying and Respect at Work Bill
    • Carers and Care Workers Bill
    • Data Protection and Digital Information (No 2) Bill
    • Employment (Application Requirements) Bill
    • Employment and Trade Union Rights (Dismissal and Re-engagement) Bill
    • Fertility Treatment Bill
    • Health and Safety Bill
    • Miscarriage Leave Bill
    • Non Disclosure Agreements Bill
    • Paternity (Leave and Pay) Bill
    • Workers (Rights and Definition) Bill

    You can find out more about forthcoming legislation and potential areas of development in our forthcoming virtual employment law seminar.  This free event will be held on Thursday 28 March 2024, and you can register for this event by clicking here.

Cost of living

The cost of living crisis continues and will remain a challenge for businesses as well as employees in 2024.  You may have seen the impact already within your own business, such as greater sickness absence due to mental health, employees taking on second jobs.

The issues seen over the last year will most likely continue and it would be prudent for employers to review their support for employees:

  • Review the employment benefits that are on offer to see if a) they are utilised, b) still relevant c) competitive d) can provide financial or other support to help in the crisis
  • The National Minimum Wage will be increasing significantly in 2024 which will be beneficial to all employees (however, for small businesses, this may become a further financial constraint)
  • Are you able to introduce an Employee Assistance Programme – a tool that provides employees with access 24-7 to confidential advice and support from a trained professional. We have seen over the year an increase in mental ill health so providing this support could be one way in which you can support employees and reduce sickness absence at the same time.

Key employment areas

Many of the 2023 key areas of importance for HR leaders are likely to continue into 2024. We envisage that resource planning, employee retention, recruitment and positioning the employer brand will continue to be key.

We will therefore look at what these challenges and how employers can mitigate against them.

Resource planning

Resource planning is a key business tool that will, amongst other things, help to address recruitment and retention challenges.  With more modern ways of working (remote / hybrid) being available, employers can be more creative in how they resource roles because of the greater access to a wider talent pool.

Resource planning needs to form part of the overall strategic people plan.  A strategic people plan must align with the overall business play.  Doing so, will ensure that the business can achieve success through its people by having the right skills and capabilities in place, and focus on HR initiatives that address the organisation’s challenges, such as recruitment and retention.

Recruitment and Retention

Recruitment is likely to continue to be a challenge.  In July 2023, we ran a webinar on recruitment and found that 80% of those on our webinar continued to have recruitment challenges.   When exploring the challenges, we found the biggest challenge facing employers was regarding a skills shortage (43%), followed by candidate shortage (24%) then the time it takes to hire (15%) with increasing demands from candidates for hybrid working (11%) and finally, cost per hire (7%).  We also found that pay was another factor with recruitment with 23% of businesses reporting an inability to meet the wage demands of candidates.

There are plenty of ways in which these recruitment challenges can be mitigated:

  • Employing apprenticeships: Enable the apprentice to have tailored on the job training build around the needs of the organisation and can secure future business planning by investing in the future workforce.  They are also a simple and cost effective way of recruiting.
  • ‘Quiet hiring’: A term used to refer to leveraging the capabilities of your current workforce to acquire new skills and thus avoid the need to recruit externally.
  • Management development: Focuses on the performance and potential of leaders and on enhancing management capability throughout the business.
  • Invest in technology: Technological recruitment solutions incorporated into your recruitment processes can streamline and automate processes making recruitment more efficient
  • Data driven recruitment: Data is key to business decision making as it provides meaningful management information for the right strategic decisions to be made. Key recruitment metrics like time to hire, cost per hire, and quality can help identify where improvements need to be made to the overall recruitment process
  • Preferred recruitment agencies: Having a narrowed down list of preferred agencies will strengthen your chances of recruiting the best talent, simply because of the close relationship both parties will form and providing the agency with a greater knowledge of your structure, roles and company culture.
  • Hybrid / remote working and flexible hours: How people work is now a big factor when people look for new employment and will enhance employee retention.
  • Employee rewards and benefit offering: When did the business review its reward and benefits package? Remember, reward and benefits don’t always have to be financial, and having a competitive rewards package will also be a selling point for the business through your EVP.

You can read our article ‘how difficult is it to recruit right now?’ to find out more about what other employers are doing in respect of recruitment, through the results of our webinar poll.

Many of these initiatives can also positively impact on employee retention, not just recruitment, but here are some further ideas:

  • Have an effective onboarding process: this is crucial because the first few months of new employment sets the foundation for a good working relationship between both parties
  • Have clear work expectations and company policies: Employees need to know what is expected of them and the framework in which they are to work. This then contributes towards the overall company culture.
  • Provide learning and development opportunities: employees want to fee
  • Effective communication that is open and transparent: communication is vital for good employee relations, which in turn leads to strong employee retention
  • Competitive benefits and perks: A key contributing factor to holding on to your staff is what you can offer them along with their pay. Remember, this doesn’t have to be financially or expensive, but a reward and benefits package that will help aid employee retention.

Employer Brand

A major factor in enabling a business to attract and retain is the employer brand.  The employer brand is the way in which the business can differentiate themselves in the labour market.  A strong employer brand can lead to attracting, retaining, and engaging top talent and the right people for your business.

The employer brand forms part of a business’ Employee Value Proposition (EVP), which is the unique set of benefits that an employee receives in return for the skills, capabilities, and experiences they bring. EVP is a selling point and when there is a competitive labour market, or employee retention is a key focus, you need to do as much as you can to stand out. The employer brand is therefore crucial in this process.

Telling your full employer brand story – your origins, vision, goals, in any marketing materials you publish externally and internally, or in the information contained on your webpage will help sell your business, to both potential applicants as well as your current workforce.

In our webinar back in July, was asked about whether those in attendance had an EVP and 41% of attendees did. Considering this statistic, just under half had said that the EVP had been reviewed in the last year.  This is key because with the volatile environment businesses are operating at present, ensuring the EVP remains fit for purpose is key.

Written statement of particulars

The relationship of employee to employer is bound by a contract of service and must be given a written statement of employment particulars.  This means there must be certain details communicated in writing to the employee and be given by their first day of employment. This is a legal requirement.

Contract of Employment

A contract of employment is a document (which can be incorporated within the written statement of employment particulars or kept as a standalone document) that both parties enter into which gives rise to obligations on both parties and that are recognised or enforced by law. It sets out the ground rules governing the employment relationship. Whilst it is not a legal requirement, it is good practice, and we always advise to use contracts of employment as it will become the most important employment document that you can give.

It is also important to be mindful that a contract of employment does not have to be in writing to be legally binding. Even if there is no written agreement, once you have offered a job to someone on certain terms and conditions (“consideration”) and they have accepted it, an agreement is reached, and a contract of employment exists.  Furthermore, contractual terms can also exist through custom and practice i.e., what is happening in practice rather than what is written down.

A written agreement

A written agreement is often used when you have a contract of service relationship between an employer and a worker, where there is no obligation to offer work, nor is there any obligation to accept work.  A written agreement will outline the terms and conditions of the arrangement so there is no ambiguity or confusion.

Worker’s do have certain legal protections although not fully, so it is necessary that any written agreement contains details about their rights and entitlements.

A contractor agreement

A contractor agreement is a contract for services, between an employer and a self-employed contractor which outlines the terms and conditions of the relationship.

Possible change in Government

There has been a lot of speculation in the news in recent months about the timing of the next General Election.  All we know is that it must take place at the latest by 28 January 2025 because under UK law, elections must take place five years from the day the current Parliament first met plus time required to run an election campaign. Any sooner, the decision would be a political one, but current speculation is that it could be either May or October 2024.  This external factor will no doubt impact business and employment, not only from a confidence perspective for businesses, but potential developments in employment law, should there be a change in Government.

Strategic HR thinking for 2024: Aligning people and business strategy

As we approach 2024, the landscape of Human Resources (HR) is not just changing—it’s metamorphosing. The roles and responsibilities that were once the cornerstone of HR are being redefined in light of a globalised workforce, the ubiquity of remote working, the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, advances in data analytics, the impact of AI in the workplace and an ever-changing regulatory landscape.

With this in mind and within this context, HR Solutions will be introducing its first white paper early 2024, “Strategic HR Thinking for 2024: Aligning People and Business Strategy”. This white paper is a seminal guide targeted at CEOs, CHROs, HR managers, and any forward-thinking individual committed to catalysing business growth through innovative HR practices.

The central objective of this paper is to move beyond HR as a functional requirement and to elevate it as a strategic partner capable of driving business transformation. To achieve this, the paper will:

  • Review the business challenges of 2024 and how the changing role of HR can support these.
  • Discuss the trends and shifts that are re-shaping the world of work and further demanding HR has a place as a strategic function, from asynchronous working to artificial intelligence.
  • Provide actionable recommendations, for incorporating these emerging trends into your HR strategy.
  • Offer insights into how evolving regulations will affect HR practices and what proactive steps businesses can take.
  • Provide insight as to how and why HR should be used as a catalyst for growth.

You can keep an eye out for this new paper by keeping in touch with us either directly through our website, or on any of our social media platforms; LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Further information

You can find out more about the forthcoming changes identified in this Hot Topic and which will impact your business and how you manage your workforce via the following tools:

  1. Read our regular monthly newsletters that we post on our social media channels and website. Our newsletters cover many important areas of employment including payroll, health and safety, recent and future changes, case rulings, consultations and guidance and interesting statistics.
  2. Sign up to our free Employment Law Seminar, taking place on 28 March 2024
  3. Look out for news articles as new legislation is introduced. For each piece of new legislation we will provide detailed guidance from a legal perspective as well as practical guidance for implementing.
  4. Download your free copy of our forthcoming white paper when available. It will be available via our main website and social media platforms.




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