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New Year, New Government , New Employment Law

New Year, New Government , New Employment Law

However the timing of any new laws will depend upon parliamentary time being made available and we know much of that will be taken up with Brexit.

We can however be clear on at least six employment law developments which will happen on 6 April 2020 (although the final one will be on 1 April). The legislation is in place or is currently in the system.

Written statement of terms 

This is perhaps the most important because it applies to all employees, and also to workers for the first time. All new joiners will be entitled to a statement of written terms on the first day of employment (previously it was within two months of starting).

They will also be entitled to additional information, such as the days of the week the worker is required to work; whether the working hours may be variable and how any variation will be determined; any paid leave and other benefits to which the worker is entitled; any probationary period and any training entitlement. There is no need to provide the additional information to existing employees unless the employee requests a written statement on or after 6 April 2020.

Employers should establish whether they engage any workers, and if they do, develop separate terms for them and revise their terms with employees. Many will also need to change their systems to ensure delivery on time.

IR35 changes

This is the long-awaited extension of the off payroll rules, which currently apply in the public sector, to the private sector. It will affect those who act through their own service company and contract with medium and large sized businesses. The onus for determining employment status and whether income tax and National Insurance should be paid moves to the client known as the “fee payer”.

Employers should check the status of those they engage and be prepared to make determinations for tax.

Agency workers

The rules will change so that it will no longer be possible to rely on the so-called “Swedish derogation”, meaning that all agency workers will be entitled to equal pay with comparable employees after 12 weeks. Also, all agency work-seekers must be provided with a key facts statement.

Employers should check whether they rely on the derogation and prepare to change how they engage agency workers.

Parental bereavement

Parents will have the right to two weeks’ leave following the loss of a child under 18, or stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, to be taken within 56 days of the child’s death. Those who have been employed for more than 26 weeks will be entitled to statutory bereavement pay.

Implementing Regulations were laid before Parliament on 23 January 2020.

Holiday pay

This is especially relevant for those on variable hours or rates of pay. The holiday pay reference period will increase from 12 weeks to 52 weeks to try to even out variations of holiday pay for seasonal workers or those who work mainly in term time but have permanent contracts.

Employers should check with their payroll provider that the correct calculation will be used.

Minimum wage

This will increase to £8.72 from £8.21 for the National Living Wage and £8.20 from £7.70 for those aged between 21 and 24. There will also be increases for all the other categories. The Government’s stated aim is to increase the National Living Wage to £10.50 per hour by 2024.

Employers should check their payroll arrangements and plan for the increase together with any consequential differential rate changes they may wish to make.

As always, employers need to plan early so as not to be caught out by these changes. Please let a member of our employment team know if we can assist you in those preparations, especially in drafting worker statements of terms or reviewing contracts of employment.