Employment law is a fast changing area and, despite Brexit, this year is already seeing more changes for employers.
From 1 April 2019, hourly minimum wage rates increased. Failure to comply by employers can result in penalties of up to £20,000 per underpaid worker and being “named and shamed” by HMRC as recently seen in the press.
Workers aged 25 and over are now entitled to £8.21 per hour with younger workers (aged 21 to 24) entitled to £7.70 per hour.
From 1 April 2019, auto-enrolment rates for employers with minimum contribution rates increased to 3% (employers) and 5% (employees) resulting in a total minimum contribution of 8%.
From 6 April 2019 there were two significant changes to information requirements on payslips. Firstly, payslips must now be given to all workers, rather than just employees. Secondly, employers must now include the total number of hours worked where pay varies according to the hours worked, commonly the case with zero hours contracts. Payslips can either detail an aggregate figure or separate figures for different types of work or different rates of pay.
Regardless of whether a Brexit deal is reached, rules around employment of EU nationals will change, with the end of free movement of workers.
The Government has introduced a scheme under which EU workers already in the UK can apply for “settled status”, enabling them to remain indefinitely in the UK after Brexit. Eligibility includes living in the UK for five years by the date of application. There is also “pre-settled status” for those without five years’ residence.
Employers need to be aware that the employment of EU workers is likely to be subject to restrictions in the future.
There are more anticipated legislative changes in the pipeline. These include the amendment of the holiday pay reference period. It is expected that the current 12-week reference period will be extended to 52 weeks to ensure that seasonal workers get the paid time off to which they are entitled. In addition legislation is expected to clarify employment status which has been causing many businesses considerable problems in recent years.
Employers must keep up-to-date with the changes to avoid costly penalties and claims.