Employee Health and Wellbeing Key HR and Legal Changes Facing SME Leaders in 2024

January 2024. By Kimberly Bradshaw (CEO, Spotlight HR.)

Looking at the year ahead, Spotlight HR identifies the main HR topics incoming for SMEs in 2024 in a quick 3-minute read. This month, we look at new employment laws, hiring issues, survey stats, compliance and solutions. Agility remains the SME superpower over larger competitors, so let’s explore your HR opportunities in 2024.

Brace for impact: What are the key 2024 Employment Laws on the Horizon for SMEs?

First up, here’s a speedy breakdown of the most important employment changes SMEs need to navigate in 2024:


Neo-natal Care, Leave and Pay Act:

  • 12 weeks leave for neonatal care.
  • Neonatal care pay after 26 weeks of service.
  • Flexible leave, starting within 28 days of birth.

Carer’s Leave Act (Effective April 6):

  • One-week unpaid leave for carers.
  • Flexible leave options.

Protection from Redundancy, Pregnancy and Family Leave Act (Effective April 6):

  • Extends protection to pregnant employees.

Workers Predictable Terms and Conditions Act (Expected September 2024):

  • Right to request predictable working patterns.

Employment Relations, Flexible Working Act (Fully Effective April 6):

  • Improved flexible working rights.
  • Day one right to make a flexible working application.

Worker Protection, Amendment of Equality Act 2020 Act (Expected October 2024):

  • Statutory duty to prevent sexual harassment.
  • Non-compliance risks enforcement and compensation uplift.

Your take-home: Staying updated on legal changes can reduce legal risks and foster a fair and supportive workplace culture for your business.

At Spotlight HR, we keep you compliant so you can focus on what you do best – the day-to-day running of your company. Need a hand? Let’s chat.

What are the hiring hurdles facing SMEs in 2024? – The facts and practical solutions.


According to the latest  XpertHR survey, nearly 80% of HR and recruitment professionals identified poor-quality applicants and skills shortages, as the No. 1 issue in 2023. So, what can we do about it in 2024?


With the UK facing up to a million unfilled vacancies, 78% cited poor applicant quality and 77% identified skills shortages. A quarter of businesses are contemplating automation for hard-to-fill roles, according to the CIPD’s Labour Market Outlook. Competing with rivals’ pay and benefits packages posed challenges for 44% of respondents, while 26% struggled with new hire retention.

To address skills shortages, 58% are offering more appealing pay and benefits, while 43% provide enhanced training programs. Streamlining recruitment processes and adapting strategies based on feedback were recommended for successful talent acquisition.

Your take-home: Small businesses can tackle hiring challenges with better pay, bonuses, and simpler recruitment processes to find and keep the best employees – It’s about taking advantage of the agility SMEs have over the bigger players.

Need some HR advice on streamlining your recruitment process to capture the best people? Let’s chat.

SME leaders alert! Why must you communicate flexible working rights?


The onus is on businesses to keep staff informed on legal changes – And the new flexible working rights are currently flying under most SMEs’ radar.


A recent survey by ACAS and YouGov reveals that 70% of employees are unaware of the day-one right to request flexible work starting on April 6, 2024. The Act, covering part-time, term-time, flexi-time, compressed hours, and adjustable start and finish times, aims to empower UK employees with more control over their work arrangements.

Businesses need to communicate effectively to keep employees up to speed. It is all about internal communication and briefing line managers. As the legislation awaits final details, we urge you to take action now.

Action required: SMEs must promptly update policies, communicate upcoming flexible working changes, and ensure employees know what’s happening. Effective internal communication is key for a smooth transition to the new legislation starting April 6, 2024.

Advice or help is waiting for you at Spotlight HR, the experts in SME compliance and communication. Let’s chat.


What’s the hidden story behind the latest tribunal figures? – And how does this impact SMEs?


Statistics always conceal a story – Let’s look at what SME leaders need to know about the changing tribunal figures, with a more detailed article here.


Recent Ministry of Justice data indicates a return to pre-pandemic levels in work-related legal claims. Between July and September, individual claims slightly dropped, while group claims increased.

  • Single employment claims dropped by 1% in July-September.
  • Multiple employment tribunal cases increased by 8%.
  • Delays in processing claims, possibly due to underfunding, leading to extended waiting times.

Experts suggest that economic uncertainty and a focus on job security could be reasons for the decrease in individual claims. Despite this, a significant rise in group claims suggests improved access to justice for workers.

Your take home: Overall, a return to normal levels means tribunals are increasing. Our best advice is to get on top of employee contracts and compliances now to avoid costly conflict. Let’s chat.

At Spotlight HR, we are strategic partners to many local businesses across East Sussex. We are also here if your in-house HR team need assistance or if you need to outsource your HR for a single discrepancy or on a more extended basis.

We specialise in HR services for SME businesses – book a FREE consultation.