2020 employment law changes

If the start to 2020 is anything to go by, it’s going to be a busy year for employment law. So far, it has been ruled that ethical veganism is a belief that should be protected under employment law, and Samira Ahmed has won her equal pay tribunal, paving the way for women who have also been subject to unequal pay to follow suit. Both of these rulings will have a potentially widespread impact on some employers and should prompt every employer to review their policies.

Notwithstanding any further rulings that may be made, there are a number of planned changes that are due to come into force during the year. Here, we summarise these and the actions that employers should take to ready themselves.

Brexit 

Brexit went ahead on 31 January 2020, with a transition period until 31 December 2020, during which European Economic Area (EEA) nationals will still be able to come and work in the UK. After this transition period, all EEA workers will need to obtain settled or pre-settled status to enable them to continue in their position.

Further information is expected later this month from The Migration Advisory Commission regarding the new immigration system that will be in place after the transition period.

Employers that haven’t already done so should undertake an audit of their workforce, considering roles in which they currently rely on EEA nationals and the ability to be able to recruit from this and other sources in the future.

Parental bereavement leave and pay

The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act 2018 is expected to come into force in April 2020. This will give employed parents the right to two weeks leave if they lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. The rules will apply to birth parents, or those with parental responsibility for a child, and can be taken within 56 weeks of the child's death. The new law will allow a block of two weeks of leave, or two blocks of one week.

Employees will be entitled to parental bereavement leave from day one of their employment, but there will be a qualifying period of 26 weeks for entitlement to parental bereavement pay.

Entitlement to written statements of particulars

From 6 April 2020, employers must provide a written statement of employment particulars to all workers. Previously only applying to those classed as ‘employees’, the rules have been extended to all workers, and now must be available from day one of employment, rather than the previously allowed two-month period. Information to be contained in the statement has also been extended, and now includes variable working hours, paid leave other than sick pay, benefits, probationary periods and training.

National minimum wage and other statutory rate increases

From 1st April 2020 the national living wage rate for workers aged 25 and over will increase from £8.21 to £8.72. Rates for younger workers will also increase, with hourly rates rising to £8.20 for workers aged 21 - 25, and £6.45 for workers aged between 18 and 21.  The rate for under 18’s who are no longer of compulsory school age will increase to £4.55 and the rate for apprentices will rise to £4.15.

Although yet to be finalised, there are also proposed increase to the statutory weekly rates that are used to calculate maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental pay. The increase for these rates is from £148.68 to £151.20, expected to come into force from 5 April. The rate for statutory sick pay is expected to increase on 6 April 2020 to £95.85, up from £94.25.

Reforms to the IR35 rules

New rules are due to come into force on 6 April 2020 regarding the IR35 rules on off-payroll working. Having already been introduced in the public sector in 2017, the rules are set to be extended to medium and large private employers and will shift the onus of checking the status of a worker to the end client. The rules, as they stand, will apply to all contracts entered into, or payments made on or after 6 April 2020.

Holiday pay calculations

From 6 April 2020, the reference period to calculate a 'week's pay' for holiday pay purposes will be extended from the previous 12 weeks of work to the previous 52 weeks.

For more information on any of the above changes, or for advice on how implement them into your business, please contact us.