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The changes to employment law so far… The changes to employment law so far…

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Apr 20

The changes to employment law so far…

Written by Liz Pollock
Associate

DDI: 01423 724608
E: liz.pollock@raworths.co.uk

2020 has been an unprecedented and challenging time so far due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing restrictions imposed by the Government.  Most employers are unable to operate their businesses as normal as a result and have had to send staff home to work, lay them off, make redundancies or place them on the new form of leave known as ‘furlough leave’.  Inevitably, this has caused significant changes to all our personal and working lives.

You will have heard on the news of the many recent changes to legislation to deal with the implications of COVID-19.  In addition, most of the Government’s proposed changes to employment law in April 2020 will be implemented.  This article sets out a summary of the top 10 changes to employment law.

1. Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

On 20 March the Chancellor announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help avoid redundancies during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Under the scheme, an employer can claim back 80% of the wages of employees who agree to be placed on furlough leave, up to £2,500 per employee per month.  The scheme will be open for 3 months unless the Chancellor agrees to extend it.

2. Statutory sick pay (SSP)

Where a worker is unable to work due to COVID-19 then they will be entitled to SSP from the first day of absence (usually it is from day 4; there are 3 waiting days).  Further, small employers (those with fewer than 250 employees) will be able to reclaim payments of SSP for absences due to COVID-19 for up to 14 days.

In addition, SSP is extended to individuals who are unable to work because they have been advised to self-isolate and to people caring for those within the same household who display COVID-19 symptoms and have been told to self-isolate.

SSP increases to £95.85 per week from 6 April 2020.  See table below.

3. Emergency volunteer leave

There is a new statutory right for workers to take emergency unpaid volunteer leave in blocks of 2, 3 or 4 weeks.  This right will be available to workers who have been certified by an appropriate authority (NHS Commissioning Board, a local authority or the Department of Health) to act as an emergency volunteer in health or social care to alleviate the pressure on these essential services.  To take the leave, workers will need to give their employers 3 working days’ notice and produce a certificate confirming that they have been approved as an emergency volunteer.

4. Written particulars of employment

From 6 April 2020, all new employees and workers will have the right to a statement of written particulars from their first day of employment.  Further, additional particulars must be provided including, the days of the week, details of any probationary period, details of any paid leave, any mandatory training and details of any other benefits provided by the employer.

5. Holiday pay

From 6 April 2020, the reference period to calculate the holiday pay for workers with variable hours or pay increases from 12 to 52 weeks (or as many weeks of pay information that are held if less than 52 weeks).

6. Agency workers

From 6 April 2020 the ‘Swedish derogation’ will be removed.  This means that once agency workers have satisfied the 12-week qualifying period, they will be entitled to the same pay as workers who are engaged directly by the employer.  Further, by 30 April 2020 agency workers must be informed in writing that the Swedish derogation will no longer have effect.  In addition, from 6 April 2020 all agency workers must be provided with a key information document which sets out the terms under which they will undertake work.

7. Termination payments

From 6 April 2020 new legislation takes effect which ensures that any termination payment in excess of £30,000 is not only chargeable to income tax but will also attract the employer National Insurance contribution, the Class 1A NIC liability, on the balance above £30,000.

8. Bereavement leave

From 6 April 2020 bereavement leave will be introduced.  It will allow parents who suffer the loss of a child either under 18, or from 24 weeks of pregnancy, to be entitled to 2 weeks’ statutory leave irrespective of how long they have been employed.  It is a day one employment right for employees only.  Parents with 26 weeks continuous service, who meet the earnings eligibility, will also be entitled to Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay at the lower of £151.20 per week or 90% of salary. See table below.

9. New rates and limits

The Government has increased the statutory payments and limits on employment tribunal awards as set out in the table below.  This includes SSP, National minimum wage, statutory family leave payments, unfair dismissal, statutory redundancy payment and discrimination awards.

10. What is no longer being implemented

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has decided to suspend the following:

  • the gender pay gap reporting by 4 April 2020; and
  • IR35 rules applying to medium and large sized businesses.

Employment Law – Key Statistics

National minimum wage and national living wage rates

Age Hourly rate from 1 April 2020 Hourly rate from April 2019
25+ £8.72 £8.21
21-24 £8.20 £7.70
18-20 £6.45 £6.15
16-17 £4.55 £4.35
Apprentices* £4.15 £3.90
*Applies to apprentices under 19 or over 19 but in first year of apprenticeship

 

Sick pay

Type of payment Rate from 6 April 2020 (previous limit) Max period
Statutory sick pay £95.85 (£94.25) a week 28 weeks

 

Statutory payments

Type of payment Rate from 6 April 2020 (previous limit) Max period
Statutory maternity pay 90% of normal weekly earnings

£151.20 (£148.68) a week*

6 weeks

33 weeks

Statutory paternity pay £151.20 (£148.68) a week* 2 weeks

 

Statutory adoption pay 90% of normal weekly earnings

£151.20 (£148.68) a week*

6 weeks

33 weeks

Statutory shared parental pay £151.20 (£148.68)* 39 weeks
Statutory parental bereavement pay £151.20 (£148.68) a week* 2 weeks
*or 90% of normal weekly earnings if lower

 

Compensation limits

Employee right Maximum awards from 6 April 2020 (previous limit)
Unfair dismissal

Basic award

Compensatory award

 

£16,140 (£15,750)

£88,519 (£86,444)

The compensatory award is capped in all unfair dismissal cases except those relating to whistleblowing or health and safety.

Statutory redundancy pay £16,140 (£15,750)

Calculated by reference to age, length of service (subject to a maximum of 20 years) and salary (subject to a statutory cap of £538 (£525) per week)

Discrimination No limit, however, the bands for calculating awards for injury to feelings are:

Lower band – £900 to £9,000 (£900 to £8,800);

Middle band – £9,000 to £27,000 (£8,800 to £26,300);

Upper band – £27,000 to £45,000 (£26,300 to £44,000).

Contract claims in a tribunal £25,000

 

Please contact our Employment Team if you have any questions.

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