We must be living in a strange world when the usual April changes in employment law ground us and even offer some light relief! 

This ebriefing outlines the changes that have come into force this week as expected and those that have been put back. 

Written statement of particulars

As from 6 April 2020, all employees and workers will have the right to a written statement of particulars of their employment from day one of their employment. 

Action            More details and action points can be found in our ebriefing on this change.

Holiday reference period

Holiday pay for workers is currently determined by taking a reference period of 12 weeks to calculate their average week's pay.  From 6 April 2020, this reference period will extend to 52 weeks.  The shorter reference period often puts seasonal workers at a disadvantage when it comes to holiday pay, so this longer reference period will lessen that disadvantage.

Action            Check all relevant contracts have been updated to reflect this change and similarly for new starters.  In addition, the Government has produced guidance on the changes.

Abolition of the Swedish Derogation

The Swedish Derogation permits agencies to opt-out of their obligation to pay agency staff the same as their permanent colleagues after 12 weeks of employment, provided the agency paid their staff in between assignments.  The Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019 will prohibit that opt-out from 6 April 2020

Key Information Document

From 6 April 2020, temporary work agencies will be required to provide agency work seekers with a Key Information Document.  This must contain prescribed information, including:

  • the type of contract;
  • the minimum expected rate of pay;
  • how they will be paid and by whom (for example, by an intermediary or umbrella company);
  • any deductions or fees that will be taken;
  • any non-monetary benefits to which they will be entitled;
  • any entitlement to annual leave and payment in respect of such leave; and
  • an illustrative example of what this might mean for their take-home pay.

Action            Ensure that agencies you are engaging are not continuing with the Swedish Derogation and have provided the Key Information Document.  When engaging new agencies, you may want to request confirmation that temporary workers are given the Key Information Document.

Parental bereavement leave and pay

As from 6 April 2020, parents who suffer the death of a child either under the age of 18 years or stillborn after 24 weeks' pregnancy are entitled to two week's parental bereavement leave.  There is no qualification period; this right applies to the child's parent(s), which includes an adoptive parent, prospective adopter, intended parent under a surrogacy arrangement, a parent "in fact" (someone looking after the child in that person's own home for the last four weeks), or that person's partners, but not a paid carer.  The leave can be taken in a block of two weeks or individual weeks and should be taken within 56 weeks of the bereavement. 

Employees who have 26 weeks' continuous service are entitled to Parental Bereavement Pay which is paid at the same rate as Statutory Paternity Pay or Shared Parental Leave Pay. 

Action            Update the appropriate policy to reflect this change and inform employees of this new right.  

Statutory payment rates

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage
These rates will increase from 1 April 2020 to the following:

Year 25 and over  21 to 24  18 to 20 Under 18  Apprentice
April 2019 £8.21 £7.70   £6.15 £4.35 £3.90
April 2020 £8.72 £8.20 £6.45 £4.55 £4.15

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), Maternity (SMP), Paternity (SPP) and Adoption (SAP) Pay

SSP £95.85 (previously £94.25) From 6 April 2020
SMP £151.20 (previously £148.68) From 5 April 2020
SPP £151.20 (previously £148.68) From 5 April 2020
SAP £151.20 (previously £148.68) From 5 April 2020

Awards at Tribunal
These increases are effective from 6 April 2020:

Basic Tribunal Award £16,140
Redundancy Pay £16,140
Compensation £88,519**
Additional Award £13,988-£27,300

(26-52 weeks' pay)

** or a year's salary if lower

Delayed Changes

Extension of IR35 – April 2021

IR35 shuts down a loophole whereby contractors working under the umbrella of a personal services company but treated as de facto employees, are paying less tax and National Insurance (NI).  Originally, before the Coronavirus shut down, as from 6 April 2020, in both the public and private sectors, it would be the responsibility of the employer to assess the tax status of contractors working in this way and make the necessary deductions for tax and NI.  (This change was made in the public sector in April 2017). 

Private sector companies affected by this change will be those with:

  • more than 50 employees,
  • an annual turnover of more than £10.2m, and
  • a balance sheet worth over £5.1m.

This has now been put back to April 2021

Action            Whilst this is a welcome reprieve for employers, we would encourage all employers to diarise this for the autumn to check all audits of contractors have been completed and that they are aware of where IR35 will impact them.  For employers who are not sure whether contractors are caught by IR35, the Government has set up online test to assist https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-employment-status-for-tax

Gender pay gap reporting

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) decided on 24 March 2020 to suspend enforcement of the gender pay gap deadlines for this reporting year (2019/20).

Further information

For further information about any of the topics, please contact Matt Wort.