Despite recent employment law developments being dominated by the concept of “Furloughing” – the Government’s response to the current Coronavirus pandemic – it is easy to forget about other changes which came into force on 6th April 2020. In fact there have been several important changes to employment law, including legislation under the Good Work Plan, in which the Government has set out its vision for the future of the UK labour market which employers need to be aware of.
New right to a written Statement of Particulars
Previously, employees who had been continuously employed for one month or more had to be provided with a written statement of particulars within two months of commencing employment. However, this is now a “day one right” and all new employees and workers will have the right to a written statement of particulars (contract of employment) on or before their first day of employment.
The Good Work Plan also expands upon the information that an employer must currently provide in a written statement of particulars, including details on benefits, training and other types of paid leave.
Paid time off is a basic protection that all workers are entitled to. Whilst many businesses are diligent in making sure that individuals exercise this right it is the Government’s view that some individuals do not fully understand their entitlement or feel as though they cannot request leave from their employer. In order to combat this, the Government plans to launch a campaign to increase transparency and understanding surrounding holidays and entitlement to holiday pay.
Further, from 6th April 2020 the holiday reference period for individuals who work variable hours at variable rates of pay has increased from 12 weeks to 52 weeks. This means that going forward employers must look back at the previous 52 weeks to calculate an individual’s average weekly pay for the purposes of entitlement to holiday pay.
Protection for Agency Workers
Currently, agency workers are entitled to receive the same rate of pay and basic working conditions as a permanent worker once they have attained 12 weeks’ continuous service in the same role. However the “Swedish derogation rule” provides agency workers with the option to opt out of the right to equal pay, in exchange for a guaranteed level of pay between assignments.
As of 6th April 2020, this “opt out” will be repealed to guarantee equal wages for both types of workers. It is hoped that this will encourage more employers to offer permanent roles providing more certainty for these individuals.
Agency workers whose existing contracts contain a Swedish derogation must be provided with written confirmation by the agency on or before 30 April 2020 that this will no longer have effect.
ICE (Information and Consultation of Employees) Regulations
As of 6th April 2020, it’s been made easier to request an information and consultation agreement. A minimum of 2 per cent, rather than 10 per cent of employees (or at least 15 people), in workplaces with 50 employees or more can request a formal agreement to be informed and consulted about workplace matters.
Tribunal awards and statutory payments
The annual increase to limits applying to certain awards of employment tribunals, and other amounts payable under employment legislation became effective from 6 April 2020. Similarly, increases to the rate of statutory sick pay, and statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay have also been rolled out.
The weekly rate of statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay increases to £151.20.
The weekly rate of statutory sick pay increases to £95.85.
The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal increases from £86,444 to £88,519 for dismissals that take place on or after 6 April 2020.
Parental bereavement leave and pay
As of 6th April 2020, a new statutory right for employees to take one or two weeks off work following the death of a child under 18 or a stillbirth will apply (parental bereavement leave). A new statutory payment called statutory parental bereavement pay, may be payable during parental bereavement leave, depending on the individual’s length of service and earnings.
National Minimum Wage
On 6th April 2020 the National Minimum Wage (Amendment) (No.2) Regulations 2020 came into force which increase the national living wage and national minimum wage rates.
The national living wage for workers aged 25 and over increases to £8.72 per hour.
National minimum wage hourly rates rise to £8.20 for workers aged 21 to 24, to £6.45 for workers aged 18 to 20 and to £4.55 for workers aged 16 or 17.
In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, the government has announced that the extension of IR35 to medium and large companies in the private sector is being postponed until 6 April 2021.