23rd April 2020
Employment Update – April 2020
April tends to be a watershed in the development of employment law in England and Wales. Leaving aside the enormous impact of these past Covid-19 impacted weeks, April 2020 has a number of employment related developments worthy of note.
As long ago as 2013 and 2014, there were calls for some kind of statutory right for bereaved parents. Although not considered feasible at the time, in 2017, a private members bill introduced legislation which obtained government backing. Royal assent was given in September 2018 for the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 (the Act).
Details of the scheme were left to be enacted through regulation. After a consultation through 2019, new regulations regarding bereavement leave and pay were announced in January 2020. Often described as compassionate leave, these regulations implement new pay and leave entitlements to bereaved parents in respect of children whose date of death is on or after 6 April 2020.
The regulations, which are made under the Act, give all employees who lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, an entitlement to two weeks’ statutory leave to be taken in one block or as two separate blocks of a week. Employees with at least 26 weeks’ service, who meet minimum earnings criteria, will also qualify for statutory parental bereavement pay (at the same rate as statutory paternity pay).
This leave must be taken within a period of 56 weeks from the date of death. The leave must be taken in whole weeks, although there is nothing in the regulations that preclude a more flexible approach being adopted by employees. The week can commence on any day.
Returning employees have the same right of return as those who have taken maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave, that is, the job they previously had prior to taking the leave. If a longer period is taken as a result of it being taken consecutively with another parental related leave, then In such cases the employee’s right is to return to the same job or, if it is not reasonably practicable for the employer to permit the employee to return to that job, to another job which is both suitable and appropriate for the employee to do in the circumstances. Seniority, pension and similar rights must be preserved.
A change in the reference period for holiday pay has been enacted to take effect from 6 April. Employers must now use 52 weeks as a reference period for the calculation of holiday pay. Previously it was 12 weeks. For those who work stable or consistent hours, this is likely to have little or no impact. For those whose working hours vary considerably, this will mean a move away from the variances arising from holiday pay that becomes due depending on when it is taken.
Statement of terms
It has always been the case that a statement of employment terms (often called a section 1 Statement) must be provided to employees within 2 months of the commencement of employment. Again, from 6 April 2020, an employer must provide such a statement on or before the employee starts work. In addition, employers must provide a statement to workers as well as employees.
In addition to the previous information that was required, an employer must now include in the statement:
- Details of a probation period which must include length and terms thereof
- Specifying the days a worker is expected to work
- If the days/hours are variable, and the details of the extent of those variations
- Any required training that the worker is required to undertake, and whether or not the employer will pay for it
- Any contractual and non-contractual benefits.
An employee or worker can claim up to 4 week’s pay (currently capped at £538) if the employer fails to provide the statement in its correct form.
A note to employers regarding termination payments. From 6 April, the position of ex gratia payments changes making those payments more expensive for an employer. Previously, ex gratia payments were only subject to PAYE where the award was above £30,000. National Insurance contributions were not required to be paid. From 6 April, National Insurance contributions (NICs) along with PAYE payments are also required to be paid above the £30,000 threshold. This includes the employer NIC payment.
Information and Consultation
Under the Information and Consultation Regulations 2004, the threshold for requiring information and consultation arrangements to be implemented was previously 10% of the employee group. From 6 April, that threshold has been reduced to 2% although still subject to the minimum of 15 employees.
Pay and Claim Thresholds
Various statutory pay and claim limits have been changed in April. These are:
Redundancy and Unfair Dismissal Caps
From 6 April 2020, a week’s pay is capped at £538. This means the maximum statutory redundancy award and unfair dismissal basic award is £16,140.00
Compensatory awards for unfair dismissal will are now be £88,519.00.
Maternity/Paternity/Adoption/Shared Parental Leave Pay
From 5 April 2020, these categories of statutory pay have increased to £151.20 per week.
Statutory Sick Pay
From 6 April 2020, SSP has increased to £95.85 per week.
National Minimum Wage
From 1 April 2020, these rates are:
£4.55/hour Age 16 – 17 (the young worker’s rate)
£6.45/hour Age 18 – 20 (the development rate)
£8.20/hour Age 21 – 24 (the standard adult rate)
£8.72/hour Age 25 and above (also known as the National Living Wage).
Employers who have agency workers will no doubt be familiar with the Swedish Derogation principle. In essence, this allowed for employers to engage and, importantly, pay, agency workers differently from your own workers. From 6 April 2020, you can no longer do this. If employers have workers engage under this principle, then consideration should be given to moving such workers onto either standard agency contracts or to engage them directly as their own.
Covid-19 has to be mentioned at least once. The above reforms were due to be implemented in April 2020 (the 6th to be precise). Because of the impact of the pandemic, these changes have been postponed until 6 April 2021.
If you have any queries concerning the above or would like any other employment legal advice, please contact us on 01892 510222 or at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to help.