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Employment law changes - preparing for April 2020

View profile for Susan Mayall
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All our employment clients know that we always say this area of the law is a minefield and one in which the mines constantly move, EU legislation, Appeal and Tribunal decisions, Brexit and now Coronavirus – they all have an effect on the policies and procedures.

We keep our clients up to date with regular bulletins and emails personal to their business needs, but this time every year there are usually a raft of employment law changes over and above the annual national wage changes.

“April is always a busy month with legislation changes to contend with and 2020 sees more changes than ever and the message to all employers is to review and update if necessary your contracts and arrangements with staff,” said Head of Employment, Susan Mayall.

Many of these changes come from the Government’s Good Work Plan https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/good-work-plan the aim of which is to provide a ‘vision of the future of the UK labour market.”

So how do things change in April and what do responsible employers need to know:

Holiday pay

The changes here are aimed at improving pay arrangements for seasonal workers and are effective from April 6th.  From this date the holiday pay reference period will increase from 12 weeks to 52 weeks. Employers need to refer back at the previous 52 weeks where a worker has worked and received pay, discarding any weeks not worked or where no pay was received, to calculate the average weekly pay.

A Written Statement of Terms

From April 6th employers must provide a written statement of employment particulars to all workers, not just employees and it must be available from day one of employment, rather than the current two month time period. Our advice is for owners and HR managers to review their current contracts and recruitment processes and make sure they provided all the essential information.  What is to be contained in the statement has also been extended and new starters should be provided with the following information:

  • how long a job is expected to last, or the end date of a fixed-term contract
  • how much notice the employer and worker are required to give to terminate the agreement
  • details of eligibility for sick leave and pay
  • details of other types of paid leave e.g. maternity leave and paternity leave
  • the duration and conditions of any probationary period
  • all remuneration (not just pay) e.g. vouchers, lunch, health insurance
  • the normal working hours, the days of the week the worker is required to work, and whether or not such hours or days may be variable, and if they may be how they vary or how that variation is to be determined
  • any training entitlement provided by the employer, any part of that training entitlement which the employer requires the worker to complete, and any other training which the employer requires the worker to complete and which the employer will not bear the cost.

Agency Workers

If you employ agency workers you will need to carefully review the information provided to them including the type of contracts issued, rates of pay and how they will be paid.

The “Swedish derogation” principle allowing employers to avoid pay parity (after 12 weeks) between agency workers and direct employees is to end and all temporary workers must be informed and given the key information and all terms under which they work.

Under the Agency Worker Regulations 2010 (AWR 2010) once agency workers have completed 12 weeks in the same role they are entitled to receive the same pay and basic working conditions as those staff engaged directly by the employer

Parental bereavement leave

“Bereavement is a topic all employers come across and one which needs obvious sensitivity and must be in line with current law, in fact some employers I know go above and beyond when they look after staff at such sad times,” said Susan.  “It is always a good thing to have a written policy so staff know where they stand and have some certainty and can refer to it,” she added.

Officially the new Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act, sometimes known in the media as Jack’s Law entitles employees who lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from the 24th week of pregnancy to such leave.

This law is very progressive and is something in which the UK is leading the field in employment law as it allows parents to take the leave as either a single block of 2 weeks, or as 2 separate blocks of one week each taken at different times across the first year after their child’s death. In reality it means they can match their leave to the times they need it most, which could be in the early days or over the first anniversary.

Business owners need to also be mindful of racial or religious discrimination claims that stem from refused requests for time off as some religions require a set time for mourning.

Long term grief can also be a factor and time off or increased sickness leave should therefore be treated carefully.

Maternity leave is also still in place for bereaved mothers who lose a child after 24 weeks of pregnancy, or during maternity leave.  Paternity leave and shared parental leave (where notice of leave has been given) will also be maintained.

Extension of IR35 to private sector

The Government has decided that the implementation of this is to be postponed until April 2021

Increase to minimum wage

National minimum wage (NMW) generally increases every April, and this year is no different. From 1 April 2020, all rates are to go up, with staff aged 25 and over now entitled to £8.72 per hour. Weeks’ pay for family leave, such as maternity leave, is to increase to £151.20 per week from 5 April 2020. Furthermore, awards for unfair dismissal are also to increase from 6 April 2020, with the compensatory award to be a maximum of £88,519, or 52 weeks of pay, whichever is lower.

For advice on all aspects of employment law please call Susan Mayall or Victoria Schofield on 0161 785 3500

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers LLP or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.