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Changes to Employment Law - April 2020

With the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak naturally at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts at this moment, it is important not to overlook a series of legislative changes that have been made and require discussion and implementation within your business.

From April 6, 2020 there were several key changes made to employment legislation. These included:

The Right to Written Statement of Terms

From 6 April 2020, the requirement to provide a written statement of terms and conditions extends to workers, not just employees. This includes casual and zero hours workers. The right to a statement no longer requires a minimum length of service and applies from the worker’s first day working for the organisation which must include:

  • the hours and days of the week the worker or employee is required to work, and whether they may be varied, and how entitlements to any paid leave.
  • any other benefits not covered elsewhere in the written statement.
  • any probationary period.
  • any training provided by the employer.

This is also applies to agency workers, see further below.

The Good Work Plan

Several changes have been made to benefit the status of agency workers.

  • The government has abolished a legal loophole referred to as the ‘Swedish derogation’, which gave agencies the opportunity to pay agency staff a differing amount than permanent employees. Agency staff can now be treated equal to comparable permanent employees after 12 weeks.
  • Agency workers are now entitled to a document giving them ‘key information’, including their contract type, rate of pay and how they will be paid by which company.
  • The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 have seen the reference period for determining an average week’s pay change from 12 weeks to 52 weeks. The reform is intended to help improve how holiday pay is calculated for people such as seasonal workers.
  • Extending the right to have a written statement of particulars to workers, as well as employees – this includes information of basic employment terms and conditions.

Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations

From 6 April 2020, it’s been made easier for employees to request an information and consultation agreement. Now it only requires a minimum of 2% of employees, rather than 10% of employees (or at least 15 people), in workplaces with 50 or more employees who can request a formal agreement to be informed and consulted about workplace matters.

National Minimum Wage Changes

The definition of ‘salaried hours workers’ has been broadened and companies have been given more flexibility to choose the most appropriate ‘calculation year’ and ensure a way for their salaried workers to be paid a premium when appropriate (Bank Holidays etc).

‘Jack’s Law’

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 came into force on 6th April 2020 – referred to as Jack’s Law in memory of Jack Herd, after his mother Lucy campaigned to see such legislation introduced after her family’s experiences after his death at the age of just 23 months.

The law gives employees who lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a still birth from the 24th week of pregnancy the right to two week’s leave. This can be taken either as one-block, or as two non-consecutive one-week blocks at any time during the 56 weeks following the child’s death.

The Act also provides for statutory parental bereavement pay dependent upon the employee’s length of service and earnings.

Changes Postponed to the Off-Payroll Working Rules (IR35)

In March the Government announced that this year’s proposal to extend IR35 to the private sector would be postponed until 6th April 2021, due to the Coronavirus situation.

The rules aim to bring contractors in line with employees in paying the same tax, when they are working similar roles to employed staff. From next April all private, as well as public sector companies as is the case currently, will be held responsible for calculating the correct tax and National Insurance Contributions from the fees paid to the contractors’ Personal Service Companies.

The HMRC has published guidance for companies to prepare for these changes.

We are Here to Help

If you should have any questions about these changes, or require support with implementing new legislation to your organisation, please don’t hesitate to contact our Employment Team on 01603 620508.

This article was produced on the 21st April 2020 by our Employment team for information purposes only and should not be construed or relied upon as specific legal advice.