COVID-19 and the pandemic has really knocked the industry sideways. There have been some major changes and amendments made to law to help business and employees through this time such as in the introduction of the Job Retention Scheme, changes to The Working Time Directive (annual leave specifically) and changes to Statutory Sick Pay. These changes re a direct result of the crisis.
BUT, there are always scheduled changes to employment law every year in April and these still happened in the background and are still applicable. It is important that you are aware of them so that you can ensure you are compliant and get back to work on the right foot. Below, I have listed the main changes for your information.
As we keep hearing, we are living in unprecedented times, and it is even more important for Business Owners and Directors to keep updated on the ever-changing employment law. The employment law can be complex at the best of times, but at the current time, it is even more so as the government attempt to respond quickly to changes in the pandemic. These are some of the main changes to the employment law to be aware of.
You can book in a call to discuss any of the below right here.
Job Retention Scheme
The job retention scheme, known widely as ‘furloughing’ was announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in a direct response to the Coronavirus pandemic. With many businesses unable to operate at the moment, the scheme was brought into place in an attempt to save businesses and the economy. With the job retention scheme, employers are entitled to cash grants of up to 80% of wages, at a maximum of £2,500 per worker. Employers can make up the remaining 20% of wages, but they have no obligation to do so. This scheme is open to businesses who have employees who are unable to work from home, such as restaurant workers and non-essential shop workers. The scheme opened on the 20th April and will save millions of jobs.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Statutory sick pay (SSP) will be payable from the start of the employee’s absence if the reason for absence is related to self-isolation to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. SSP was previously payable from the fourth day of absence.
If you would like to contact us about any employment questions you have generally or in relation to Covid-19, get in touch.
Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay
The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 came into force on the 6 April 2020. This gives employees who have lost a child under the age of 18, or who have suffered a stillbirth from their 24th week of pregnancy, a right to receive two weeks’ leave. The regulation state that the employee may take the leave in only one block or in two blocks of one week. This leave must be taken within 56 weeks from the child’s death. The pay will be at the statutory rate.
National Living/Minimum Wage
The National Living Wage increased to £8.72 per hour for those who are aged 25 years or over.
Changes to Worker Contracts
Employers are obligated to provide a written “Section 1” statement to their employees from day one of their employment. This law came into force on the 6th April 2020 and must include the employee’s pay rate and their place of work. It should also include their benefits, entitlement to leave, probationary period and training. Other particulars include the notice period for termination, length of a fixed term or temporary contract, and any other work conditions.
Gender Pay Gap Reporting Suspension
The gender pay gap reporting legislation was brought into place in England, Scotland, and Wales in an effort to increase transparency in pay between genders, and reasons for any differences. The gender pay gap reporting has been suspended this year, due to the Coronavirus and current challenges businesses are facing.
The new off payroll working rules (or IR35 as it is commonly known) were being implemented in an effort to ensure contractors are paying the right amount of tax. This is currently already in place within the public sector, but it was also set to be rolled out this year in the private sector. As a result of the Covid-19, this has now been deferred until 2021. Although the government have made it clear that this is not a cancellation.
Emergency Volunteer Leave
A new emergency volunteer leave legislation has been put into place which allows workers to take emergency leave to help support the health and social care sector. This leave can be up to four weeks and the volunteer will be compensated for a loss of earnings, travel and any subsistence required. The volunteer can return to their own job thereafter and should receive all other terms and conditions related to their job, with exception of their salary. Employers cannot refuse emergency volunteer leave.
As a result of Covid-19, tribunal proceedings can be undertaken via electronic communications, if the tribunal are happy that it will still be just and equitable. Tribunal applications are also to be sent electronically.
If you’d like to discuss the current legislation or if we can help provide HR support, you can book in a call right here to have a chat.