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Employment Changes April 2020 - Perthshire Chamber of Commerce

Employment Changes April 2020

Employment law changes coming into force in April 2020.
One of these abandoned already due to COVID-19

The current focus of our recent blogs has unavoidably been on the various employment law issues stemming from the current pandemic. There are a number of changes to employment law scheduled to come into force on 6 April 2020. Note that one of these (the extension of IR35) has now been pushed back to April 2021 owing to recent events. Many of the reforms stem from the Good Work Plan (GWP) which was published by the government in December 2018.

Agency Workers
Currently, agencies can avoid having to equalise the pay of agency workers with their directly employed workforce after 12 weeks of continuous engagement, if they pay agency workers between assignments. However, these opt out provisions will not be available from 6 April as the Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019 come into force. Therefore, after 12 weeks of continuous engagement, agency workers will be entitled to equal pay compared with workers who are engaged directly by the same employer. Further to this, any agency workers whose contract contains this opt out (or “Swedish derogation”) must receive a written notification from the agency on or prior to 30 April 2020, confirming that the opt out will no longer have effect.

From 6 April 2020 all agency work-seekers must be provided with a key facts statement setting out the terms under which they will undertake the work. This duty rests with the agency as opposed to the end user.

Changes to holiday pay reference period
Also from 6 April 2020, the reference period for calculating an average week’s pay will increase from 12 weeks to 52 weeks. Employers will be required to look 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. This reform targets particularly holiday pay calculation for seasonal workers, where the 12-week calculation produced starkly contrasting results depending on timing. Note that the extended calculation period applies to all, not just seasonal workers.

Changes to Employment Contracts
Written statements of employment particulars must, from 6 April 2020, be issued on the first day of employment (as opposed to within 2 months of the start date as currently). In addition, these must detail the following new clauses in addition to the existing required clauses: –

  • Hours and days that the employee is required to work and how this can be varied
  • Entitlements to any paid leave for example, maternity and paternity leave (and the new parental bereavement leave)
  • Details of all benefits (e.g. life assurance, death in service etc)
  • Details of any training to be provided by the employer including any training that the employer will not pay for
  • Length of employment where it is temporary or a fixed term contract
  • Probationary period details including conditions for passing and duration

National Minimum Wage
The government is resuming the public naming of businesses that don’t comply with the NMW, while raising the threshold at which this occurs from £100 to £500 in payment arrears. Fines still exist for underpayments of less than £100.
The government is also promising better guidance on the NMW, more compliance support for small businesses, and a helpline for employers operating salary of sacrifice or other pay deduction schemes.

Parental bereavement leave and pay
The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 will come into force on the 6 April giving employees who lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from the 24th week of pregnancy, on or after this date, the right to two weeks’ leave. Regulations specify that the two weeks’ leave may be taken as one block, or as two non-consecutive one week blocks, at any time during the 56 weeks following the child’s death.

The leave will be paid at the same statutory rate as other family friendly rights provided the employee has 26 weeks’ service.

Information and Consultation changes
The threshold for making a valid request to set up information and consultation arrangements under the ICE Regulations 2004 drops from 10% to the 2% of the workforce. There still needs to be a minimum of 15 employees making the request.

The regulations apply to businesses with 50 or more employees in the UK, and the changes are being introduced under the GWP.

Termination Payments
Termination payments over the sum of £30,000 become subject to employer NICs (on the portion that exceeds £30k). This will result in an increase in the amount payable by employers and it may therefore lead to employers offering lower settlement amounts to offset the NICs that they now must make. Employees will not require to make national insurance contributions.

As always, the Blackadders Employment Team are on hand if you need advice on any of these changes. Thanks to Fiona Knox, our Trainee Solicitor, for input into this article.

Jack Boyle, Director
Accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as a Specialist in Employment Law
Employment Law
Blackadders LLP
@EmpLawyerJack

www.blackadders.co.uk

 

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