What’s on the UK Employment Law Timetable

An overview of the legal changes you can expect in 2020

Previously all changes to UK employment law were introduced in either April or October. The Coalition Government abolished this set timetable and now changes to employment law take place at different months throughout the year.

Significant employment law changes are anticipated for 2020 and beyond, amid the ongoing uncertainty resulting from the Brexit referendum.

Britian Leaves the EU (Brexit)
31 January 2020 It seems unlikely that the UK government will deviate from the employment rights that derive from EU law.

It also looks likely that EU nationals who are already resident in the UK will be allowed to stay. Future business-related migration, however, could be harder and may be brought into line with the process of bringing in employees from outside the EU. In the immediate aftermath of the Referendum, the government restated its commitment to science and research. This suggests that different immigration rules may be created to allow the continued free movement of scientists and academics from the EU.

If you employ EU nationals more generally, consider the potential impact of this on both your current and future employees. Put in place a robust workforce and contingency plan, particularly for key roles. If any grant funding agreements refer to individuals who have recently arrived from the EU as ‘key personnel’, seek to renegotiate.

In the very short term check your employment policies and procedures are fully up to date.

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Extension of the Right to a Written Statement to all Workers
April 2020 The draft Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 extend the right to a written statement of employment particulars to all workers (including employees).

The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/1378) provide that access to a written statement will be a day one right for all workers (including employees). Employers will also have to provide additional information as mandatory content for a written statement.

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Increase in the Holiday Pay Reference Period from 12 to 52 Weeks
April 2020 The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/1378) increase the reference period used for determining a week’s pay when calculating holiday pay for workers with irregular hours from 12 weeks to 52 weeks. The Government’s Good work plan states that the changes will allow greater flexibility for workers in choosing when to take holiday, particularly for those in seasonal or atypical roles that limit some workers from benefiting from their full holiday pay entitlement.

From 6 april 2020 employers will need to look back over the past 52 weeks, discarding any weeks that a worker did not earn pay, to calculate their average weekly pay.

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Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay
April 2020 Employed parents who lose a child will have the right to two weeks’ paid leave to allow them time to grieve.

The new law will support those whose child dies when under the age of 18. Under existing legislation employees only have a day-one right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of unpaid time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, including making arrangements following a death. As a result what constitutes a ‘reasonable’ period varies between workplaces.

Employees with 26 weeks continuous service will be entitled to paid leave at the statutory rate and other employees will be entitled to unpaid leave.

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National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) Rates
April 2020

National Minimum Wage Rates from April 2020

The National Living Wage for workers aged 25 and over will increase from £8.21 to £8.72.

The National Minimum Wage rates will be increased from:

  • £7.70 to £8.20 for 21 to 24 year olds;
  • £6.15 to £6.45 for 18 to 20 year olds
  • £4.30 to £4.55 for 16 and 17 year olds; and
  • £3.90 to £4.15 for apprentices
Employment Tribunal Award Limits
April 2020 The Government update the compensation limits to be imposed by employment tribunals every year in April.

The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissals taking effect from 6 April 2020 is expected to increase from its current rate of £86,444. However, the amount of increase has not yet been announced.

A week’s pay (used to calculate statutory redundancy payments and the basic award in unfair dismissal claims) is also expected to increase from its current rate of £525 (gross) but the amount of increase has not been announced yet.

Statutory Payment Rates
April 2020 The Government has published the statutory payment rates for maternity pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay, adoption pay and sick pay from April 2020.

The rate of statutory sick pay is also proposed to increase from £94.25 to £95.85 on 6 April 2020.

The increases to maternity pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay, adoption pay normally occurs on the first Sunday in April, which in 2019 is 5 April.

The new rates are as follows:-

Payment

Rate

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) The standard weekly rate of SMP is £151.20
Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) The standard weekly rate of SAP is £151.20
Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) The standard weekly rate of SPP is £151.20

To be entitled to these statutory payments, the employee’s average earnings must be equal to or more than the lower earnings limit. This amount for April 2020 has not been announced yet.

Employer’s Class 1A National Insurance Contributions on Termination Payments
April 2020 The introduction of employer’s class 1A NICs on termination payments above the £30,000 threshold are due to take effect from 6 April 2020.

HMRC’s consultation on the draft regulations for real-time reporting of Class 1A NICs on such termination awards closed on 16 January 2020.

A number of industry bodies have responded to the open consultation. In particular, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales has sought confirmation that the Class 1A NICs on these payments will be shown separately from other PAYE data on employers’ business tax accounts, and has recommended that a new class name (such as Class 1C) should be used for these contributions to distinguish them from Class 1A NICs on benefits in kind that are paid after the year end.

A response to the consultation is expected to be published soon.

In the meantime, employers should be preparing themselves for the additional employer’s NICs costs which will be payable on termination payments above the £30,000 threshold from 6 April 2020.

Change to Tax Treatment of Termination Payments Above £30,000
April 2020 Employers will be liable to pay Class 1A national insurance contributions on termination payments above £30,000 that are subject to income tax by the employee. The new measure will be introduced in the National Insurance Contributions Bill.
Abolition of the Swedish Derogation Relating to Pay for Agency Workers
April 2020 The draft Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019 abolish the Swedish derogation, which gives employers the ability to pay agency workers less than their own workers in certain circumstances. Under the derogation, agency workers can exchange their right to be paid the same as directly recruited employees for a contract guaranteeing pay between assignments. The Government’s Good work plan, published on 17 December 2018, highlights the misuse of the derogation by some employers. The legislation banning this type of contract is intended to prevent agency workers losing out on their equal pay rights.
Reduction to Threshold for a Request to Set Up Information and Consultation Arrangements
April 2020 The threshold required for a valid request to set up information and consultation arrangements under the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/3426) is reduced from 10% to 2% of employees. The requirement for the request to be made by a minimum of 15 employees remains in place.

The new threshold is provided for by the draft Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019.

Changes to Off-Payroll Working in the Private Sector
April 2020 The Government has announced that large and medium sized businesses in the private sector will be responsible for deciding whether the off-payroll working rules will apply. Where they do apply, the business, agency or third-party paying the individual’s intermediary will need to deduct income tax and National Insurance Contribution before making the payment. The definitions of large and medium sized businesses have not yet been released, but it is thought that the Government will use similar criteria to define small businesses as is currently within the Companies Act 2006. The changes are expected to be introduced from 6 April 2020, with the government publishing a further consultation in the coming months and draft legislation expected in summer 2019.
T-levels
2020 T-Levels were announced in the 2017 Spring Budget, with the aim to replace 15,000 technical qualifications with 15 vocational routes, including construction, creative and design, digital, engineering and manufacturing, health, and science.

A key part of the T-Level programme is a mandatory 45-day work placement. Currently most employers (71%) and training providers (74%) offer work placements of one to two weeks for 16 to 19 year olds. Only 8% of employers provide placements of the duration required for T-Levels.

Employment Bill
2020 Following the Queen’s Speech, a new Employment Bill appears to be on the horizon in 2020 and will bring together various proposed measures, including:

  • A single enforcement body for the labour market to ensure that vulnerable workers are aware of and can exercise their rights;
  • A requirement for employers to pass on all tips and service charges to workers, and ensure they are distributed fairly;
  • A right for all workers to request a more predictable and stable contract after 26 weeks’ service;
  • The extension of redundancy protection to reduce pregnancy and maternity discrimination. Employees will be protected from the point they notify their employer of their pregnancy until six months after the end of their maternity leave;
  • Leave for neonatal care to support parents of premature or sick babies; and
  • A week’s leave for unpaid carers.
Return to the UK Employment Timetable Directory Read About The Plans For 2021 And Beyond
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