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Employment Law Changes

Are you ready for April 2020?

April is usually a busy time for employers, a time of implementing/amending current practices to be in line with any new legislation. April 2020 will be no different, in fact we are seeing more changes than usual. So, it’s time to prepare because, as we all know, time flies and it will creep up on us! 

We have collated just some of the changes which we are expecting in April 2020 below, and how you, as an employer, can begin to prepare for these changes. 

As a matter of priority, we would advise you to:

  1. review, and update if necessary, your contracts
  2. Review current procedures and policies
  3. scrutinise your working relationships/arrangements with staff carefully

Some of the upcoming changes have resulted from the Good Work Plan which was published in December 2018 and which has been described as the government’s “vision for the future of the UK labour market”.   We have all seen the negative press over zero hours contracts, and it is certainly clear that the government is seeking to enhance clarity when it comes to employee/worker status. 

Statement of Terms (employment contract)

Currently, employees who have been continuously employed for more than one month must be provided with a written statement of terms within two months of employment commencing, however, as of the 6th April 2020 the right to a statement of particulars will start from day 1 meaning all employees must be issued with their contract of employment from their very first day as an employee.

The information to be included in the written statement will also need to include:

  • how long a job is expected to last, or the end date of a fixed-term contract
  • how much notice the employer and worker are required to give to terminate the agreement
  • details of eligibility for sick leave and pay
  • details of other types of paid leave e.g. maternity leave and paternity leave
  • the duration and conditions of any probationary period
  • all remuneration (not just pay) e.g. vouchers, lunch, health insurance
  • the normal working hours, the days of the week the worker is required to work, and whether or not such hours or days may be variable, and if they may be how they vary or how that variation is to be determined
  • any training entitlement provided by the employer, any part of that training entitlement which the employer requires the worker to complete, and any other training which the employer requires the worker to complete and which the employer will not bear the cost.

What do you need to do?

  • Review your current contracts and recruitment processes to ensure that all the required information is included.
  • Consider revising procedures to ensure documentation is issued on or before the first day of work.

Agency Workers

The “Swedish Derogation” currently means that businesses that engage agency workers on permanent contracts and pay them in between assignments are not obliged to provide equal pay with direct employees of end user clients. The Swedish Derogation will be removed from the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 from 6 April 2020.

So what does this mean? Agency workers are entitled to the same basic working and employment conditions as direct recruits of the same business (including pay) once they haves undertaken the same role with the same employer for 12 continuous calendar weeks.

By the 30th April 2020, agency workers whose existing contracts contain a Swedish derogation provision must be provided with a written notification by the agency, explaining that it will no longer have effect.

In addition to this, all agency work-seekers will need to be provided with a key facts statement, setting out the terms under which they will undertake the work.

What do you need to do?

If you have agency workers: review the information that is being provided to them to ensure that it will meet the new requirements.

Parental Bereavement Leave

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 is expected to come into force in April 2020. Granting, bereaved parents the right to two weeks of leave following the loss of child under the age of 18, or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Bereaved parents will be entitled to take their leave in one two-week block or in two separate blocks of one week. The leave must be taken before the end of a period of at least 56 days beginning with the date of the child’s death.

Bereaved parents employed with a minimum of 26 weeks’ continuous service will also be entitled to receive statutory parental bereavement pay. Those with less than 26 weeks’ continuous service will be entitled to take two weeks of unpaid leave. Details of the new entitlement and those who will qualify will be set out in separate regulations.

What do you need to do?

  • Consider a written policy as this can provide certainty and security at a difficult time.
  • Be aware of religious and cultural requirements around bereavement – to avoid the risk of racial or religious discrimination claims that may arise from refused requests for time off for religious observances on death.  Certain religions require a set time for mourning.
  • Prepare for the possible long-term effects of bereavement – Employers should be mindful of how grief can manifest itself (physically, mentally and in the form of long-term illness or condition) and what you should do should this impact performance, behaviour or absence.  Requests for time off or increased sickness leave should therefore be treated carefully, in the knowledge that a long-term condition could give rise to the risk of a disability discrimination claim.
  • Being aware of bereaved mothers’ maternity leave rights – employers should remember that mothers who lose a child after 24 weeks of pregnancy, or during maternity leave, will not lose their entitlement to maternity leave and pay. Rights to paternity leave and shared parental leave (where notice of leave has been given) will generally also be maintained in these circumstances.

Private Sector changes to IR35 Rules

Changes to IR35 rules will be implemented for medium and large businesses in the private sector.

For all contracts entered into, or payments made on or after 6 April 2020, the onus will shift from the Personal Service Company to the end user client to make a status determination. Responsibility for accounting for tax and national insurance will shift to the party who pays for the services.

What do you need to do?

If you are a medium to large business, it is essential that you assess your independent contractors to determine whether the new rules under IR35 apply and review their contracts and pay arrangements where necessary. Small businesses will not be affected by the changes.

Holiday Pay

From 6 April 2020, the way in which employers calculate average weekly pay the holiday pay reference period 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.

It is hoped that this change will help to even out the variation in pay for workers, particularly those in seasonal or atypical roles and to discourage employees from taking annual leave immediately before or after a busy period.