Employment legislation update – 7 important HR implications

Every year October comes with the promise of autumn leaves, Halloween fun and the onset of those social media memes announcing the alarmingly few remaining shopping Saturdays until Christmas. And whilst the latter is, of course, worth knowing, it’s perhaps not as crucial as keeping abreast of your legal obligations as an employer. For, usually, October heralds a fair few changes in employment law, with implications on HR policy and practice in organisations large and small.

Panic not, though. This October has been unusually quiet on that front – perhaps not surprisingly, with all eyes and minds on the ever-changing Brexit deadline, not to mention the ‘deal or no deal’ uncertainty, and now the forthcoming election.

With little by way of immediate change, this presents a good opportunity to plan ahead (so far as we can in the current political landscape) and consider how forthcoming legislative changes will affect HR procedures and policies in your business. Forewarned is forearmed, so, read on to find out exactly what you’ll need to address in your organisation over the next few months in order to remain the right side of employment law by the start of April 2020.

Brexit

Since the UK did not leave the EU on 31st October, the deadline has now been delayed, and we are expected to leave on 31st January 2020. Time will tell if (and how) this plays out, and what impact it will have on employment legislation going forward. For now, it is worth noting that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the EU Settlement Scheme closes to applicants on 30th December 2020. Application to the scheme is free of charge, and affords EU, EEA or Swiss citizens and their families settled or pre-settled status to remain in the UK. Make sure that all affected staff in your business are aware of the deadline and that they don’t miss this crucial deadline.

Written statements

On 6th April 2020, new regulations regarding the provision of written statements will come into force.  Current law dictates that everyone defined as an ‘employee’ must be provided with a statement of written particulars within their first 8 weeks of employment, comprising a mandatory checklist of key basic information regarding agreed contractual terms and basic employment rights.  Failure to provide such documentation within this time limit incurs a fine of up to £2100.  From 6th April 2020, employers will be under obligation to provide this documentation to both ‘employees’ and ‘workers’ on or before the first day of employment.  In addition to this, the mandatory information to be outlined on the written statement will extend to include detail on sick leave and pay, as well as rights towards other types of paid leave.

Agency worker pay rates

6th April 2020 will see the repeal of the Swedish derogation. Simply put, this will put an end to the currently allowable practice of paying agency workers at a lower rate than their permanent counterparts.

Termination payments

From 6th April, the taxation rules on termination payments are set to change, meaning that all payments over £30,000 will become subject to Class 1A NIC (employer liability only).

Holiday pay reference period

Currently set at 12 weeks, the reference period for calculating holiday pay will, from 6th April 2020, increase to a full 52 weeks.  This will ensure that those in seasonal and casual roles will be allocated the time off to which they are entitled.

IR35

If you are a medium or large sized private sector engaging contractors through an intermediary organisation, this is one to be aware of, because from 6th April 2020, responsibility will fall to you as the employer to assess contractors’ employment status.

Parental bereavement leave and pay

The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act 2018 has been passed by royal assent, and is expected to be enforced in April 2020, giving all employed parents the right to two weeks’ leave (paid, subject to eligibility) in the event that they lose a child below the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks’ pregnancy.

If you don’t already have a ring around 6th April 2020 in your business calendar, red circle it now.  With plenty of new employment legislation coming into force, it promises to be a key date on the HR front.  Whether you’re short on time and resource to implement the necessary changes ahead of April, or you simply need some expert HR advice, our CIPD qualified HR team are here to help.  Visit our website or contact us to find out how we can support all your business’s HR needs.

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