Recent changes and delays in implementing new Employment Legislation

Ensure you business is up to date with the latest employment law developments and any delays due to COVID19.

Statutory Sick Pay amendment for Coronavirus self-isolation

From 13 March 2020 the Government has directed that , statutory sick pay (SSP) is payable from day one of an employee or worker’s absence from work, rather than day four as previously required by legislation.  The purpose of this is to encourage self-isolation to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in accordance with guidance from Public Health England, NHS Scotland, or Public Health Wales.

As employers you are  responsible for paying SSP and ‘will know the reason their staff are giving for not being at work’.  The legislation is a temporary emergency measure and subject to change.  It will automatically lapse after eight months if not extended.

Coronavirus Act 2020

A bill containing a wide-ranging set of provisions giving the Government temporary emergency powers to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic by regulation was debated in Parliament on 23 March and became law on 25 March. See further information here.

Holiday carry over extended

From 27 March 2020 the government announced a temporary relaxation of the rules on carrying over untaken holiday on this date in response to the Covid-19 emergency.

The Working Time (Coronavirus)(Amendment) Regulations 2020 allows all staff (and workers)  to carry over their leave if they were unable to take due to the Coronavirus outbreak. 

ACAS have also released son guidance which states the says reasons for being unable to take leave could include:

  • self-isolating or being too ill to take leave
  • being temporarily laid off or ‘furloughed’
  • having to work through holidays.

The amended regulations have taken immediate effect.

 

 Gender pay gap reports in the public sector  - Delayed due to COVID

On 30 March 2020 specified public authorities, including government departments, the armed forces, local authorities, the NHS and state schools, with 250 or more employees, were required to publish their gender pay gap reports annually by 30 March based on data gathered on 31 March each year.  The Government has announced a suspension of enforcement measures on gender pay gap reporting for 2019/20 in view of the unprecedented pressures businesses are currently experiencing.

 

National living/minimum wage rises

From 1 April 2020 the National Living Wage for workers aged 25 and over rises to £8.72 an hour.

 

Gender pay gap reports (private and voluntary sectors) – Delay due to COVID19

Private and voluntary sector employers in England, Wales and Scotland with at least 250 employees are required to publish information about the differences in pay and bonuses between men and women in their workforce under the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017.

As with the Public Sector reporting due, discussed above, the Government has announced a suspension of enforcement measures on gender pay gap reporting for 2019/20 in view of the unprecedented pressures businesses are currently experiencing due to COVID19 pandemic. 

 

Good work plan: agency workers, calculating annual leave, statement of terms

The Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019 came into force on 6 April 2020.

Following the ‘Good work plan’, published in December 2018, the government made a commitment to abolish a legal loophole known as the ‘Swedish derogation’ in the agency worker rules.

This allowed agencies to opt out of equalising the pay of agency staff with the permanent workforce.  The opt-out ceases on 6 April 2020 when legislation came into force. 

Agency workers also become entitled on this date to a ‘Key information’ document, specifying what type of contract they are on, their rate of pay, how they will be paid and by which company.

In relation to annual leave for workers, the government has lengthened the reference period for determining an average week’s pay from 12 weeks to 52 weeks from 6 April 2020. 

Statement of terms both employees and workers must receive a statement of ‘written particulars’ (basic employment terms and conditions) as a day one right from the 6 April 2020.  Both became entitled to an itemised payslip on this date last year.

 

Compensation limits and Vento bands

Tribunal compensation limits increase from 6 April 2020.

The new rates are:

  • Limit on guaranteed payments – £30
  • Limit on a week’s pay – £538
  • Maximum basic award for unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy payment – £16,140
  • Minimum basic award for unfair dismissal – £6,562
  • Maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal – £88,519

On the same date, the Vento bands for calculating injury to feelings awards in discrimination claims for England and Wales increase as follows:

  • Lower band £900-£9,000
  • Middle band £9,000-£27,000
  • Upper band £27,000-£45,000 

Exceptionally serious cases could exceed the £45,000 cap.

 

Bereavement leave

The Government announced that the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 will be coming into force on 6 April 2020.

The Act gives employees who lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from the 24th week of pregnancy, on or after this date, the right to two weeks’ leave. Regulations specify that the two weeks’ leave may be taken as one block, or as two non-consecutive one week blocks, at any time during the 56 weeks following the child’s death.

The leave will paid at the same statutory rate as other family friendly if the employee has 26 weeks’ service.

Employed parents are already entitled, as a day one right, to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off to deal with emergencies involving a dependent, including dealing with a dependent’s death.

 

Extension of IR35 to private sector  - postponed 

On 17 March 2020, the government announced that it was postponing the rollout of the new off payroll working rules (known as IR35) to the private sector until 6 April 2021. The government confirmed that this was a “deferral, not a cancellation” in response to the Coronavirus situation, and that it remained committed to the policy of ensuring that those contractors working like employees pay the same tax as employees.

The IR35 rules prevent contractors working through Personal Service Companies (PCS), and performing similar roles to employees, paying less tax and NICs than if they were permanently employed by the client organisation. When the rules were introduced in 2000, contractors themselves assessed whether IR35 applied to them. In April 2017, responsibility for deciding whether contractors’ working in the public sector were caught by IR35 switched to their employers, and those organisations also became liable for deducting the right amount of tax and NICs from fees paid to the contractors’ PSCs.

From 6 April 2021, this responsibility applies to all private sector employers that in a tax year have:

  • more than 50 employees
  • an annual turnover over £10.2 million
  • a balance sheet worth over £5.1 million.

 

Information and consultation changes

From 6 April 202 the threshold for making a valid request to set up information and consultation arrangements under the ICE Regulations 2004 decreases form 10% to the 2% of the workforce. There still needs to be 15 employees making the request.

The regulations apply to businesses with 50 or more employees in the UK, and the changes are being introduced under the ‘Good work plan’ discussed above. 

 

Tax on termination payments

From the 6th April 2020  termination payments over the sum of £30,000 become subject to employer NICs. This change was delayed from April 2018.

 

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