The election is over. It’s a new decade.
Businesses are now looking at the year ahead. Some eagerly, and some, perhaps anxiously, to the anticipated labour law changes coming in from April this year.
Here is a glimpse of some things to expect.
- The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act 2018 is comes into force. Considered long overdue by many, this new law will give all employed parents the right to 2 weeks’ leave if they lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. Parents will also be able to claim pay for this period, subject to meeting eligibility criteria.
- There are important changes to written statements of employment particulars which employers should be preparing for now. In summary, all workers, not just employees, will be entitled to a written statement of employment particulars on or before their start date, (if taken on or after 6th April 2020). There is also new information that written statements will need to contain, so employers should spend some time now updating their contracts of employment for all their employees and workers.
- Holiday Pay: The reference period to calculate a ‘week’s pay’ for holiday pay purposes will be extended from the previous 12 weeks of work to 52 weeks. Again, employers should seek advice on how to effect this change now so that they are ready to make the correct calculations from April.
- Agency Workers’ Rights: There are important changes to agency workers’ rights also coming in. Previously agency workers could agree a contract which would remove their right to equal pay with permanent counterparts after 12 weeks working at the same assignment (often called the Swedish Derogation). From April, these contracts will be banned and all agency workers, after 12 weeks, will be entitled to the same rate of pay as their permanent counterparts. All agency workers will also be entitled to a key information document that sets out their employment relationships and terms and conditions with their agency more clearly. Agency workers who are considered to be employees will be protected from unfair dismissal or suffering a detriment if the reasons are related to asserting rights associated with The Agency Worker Regulations. Businesses employing agency workers should seek advice specific to their individual circumstances.
- From 6th April 2020, there will be a reduction in the percentage of employees required to make a valid request for an agreement on the sharing of information and consultation within the workplace. Currently, at least 10% of the workforce must put in a request before an employer is obliged to act. This percentage will be reduced to 2%. The requirement that at least 15 employees make the request will remain, however, so this law is still only likely to affect larger businesses.
- May Bank Holiday: If not already prepared, organisations should undertake staff planning now for the move of the normal May Monday bank holiday to Friday 8 May.
- Holiday entitlement, sick leave, maximum working hours: Finally, employers need to keep their eye on the fact that as we have now left the EU, the Conservative government has indicated that Workers rights protection will now be incorporated into a separate Bill, and not be part of the original Withdrawal Agreement Bill. If this Workers rights protection bill is passed, this will likely impact existing laws on holiday entitlement, sick leave, maximum working hours. We can’t do much on this now except prepare for what might be an uncertain road ahead.
Businesses should review their employee handbooks to ensure their policies and procedures are up to date to reflect the changes. Teams and employees should be aware of holiday entitlement, sick leave, maximum working hours and more. If you would like any support or guidance, we are only a phone call away.