April 2020 Employment Law Changes

from Silk Helix
UPDATED 23 April 2020
First Published: 12 January 2020

Following the Taylor Review and the Government Good Work Plan in 2018, this year we’ve see the biggest changes in employment law for many years.

Statement of Particulars

As an employer, previously you had to provide an employee with a written statement of employment particulars if their employment lasts a month or more. The written statement must be provided within 8 weeks of employment starting.

A written statement of particulars is not an employment contract (which is a wider concept and may be verbal) but does include the main conditions of employment.

On 6th April 2020 a number of changes came into force regarding the statement of particulars.

You no longer have eight weeks in which to issue the statement. The statement must be issued by the end of day one of employment and the requirement to issue a statement has been extended to workers as well as employees. Workers have less rights than employees, it will be important to ensure that statements issued to workers are clear about their status and don’t inadvertently give employment rights.

Previously a statement only had to be issued to an employee who was employed for at least one month but this no longer applies. Along with the statement being issued by the end of day one, it must be issued to all employees and workers, even if they are employed for less than a month.

The list of information required in the statement will be extended to additionally include:

  • Details of other types of paid leave - e.g. maternity and paternity leave
  • Duration and conditions of any probationary period
  • All remuneration (not just pay) both in cash and kind
  • Which specific days and times workers are required to work
  • Training provided or required by the employer which they will not bear the cost of

Despite the legal requirement to issue by the end of day one, it is useful to issue prior to employment starting. This ensures everyone knows of the rules and ability to terminate the contract immediately upon agreement to enter into a contract (once you offer a job and it has been accepted even if verbally a contract has been entered into).

Holiday Pay

Over recent years a steady stream of case law has changed the way holiday pay is calculated. In most cases it should include overtime, commission and other types of variable pay. This has come about as a result of a ruling in the European Courts that holiday pay must reflect “normal remuneration”.

The idea being that a detriment is not suffered by going on holiday. If an individual receives less pay whilst on holiday than they would if at work, this could deter them from taking holiday.

Following these cases the Employment Rights Act has been amended to change the reference period for determining an average week’s pay. From 6th April 2020 a week’s pay will be equal to an average of pay over the previous 52 weeks. This will benefit seasonal workers who tend to miss out on holiday pay with the current 12 week calculation.

Caution must be taken if the 12 week average has been written into contracts of employment as a 52 week average may in some cases produce a lower pay than they would be entitled to under a contractual 12 week average. That said, paying lower than the 52 week average would breach their statutory entitlement.

As part of the government response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic holdiay carry-over has been relaxed. Normally statutory holiday entitlement (5.6 weeks) must be taken in the current holiday year. The government have relaxed rules to allow up to 4 weeks holiday entitlement to be carried over into the next two holiday years.

The Employee Guidance to the Coronavirus job retention scheme was updated on Friday 17th April 2020 to allow employees to take holiday during periods of furlough. This holiday must be paid in accordance with the Working Time Regulations and in our holiday pay guide.

“break of service” period

Currently, a gap of one week or more is sufficient to break the continuity of service, albeit with exceptions applying to a few specific situations such as redundancy and incapacity dismissals. From April 2020 the gap required to break the continuity of service will increase to four weeks, making it easier for those with irregular working patterns to accumulate continuity of service.

Parental Bereavement

The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Act is expected to come into force in April 2020. It gives primary carers (not just parents) the right to two weeks leave following the loss of a child under the age of 18, or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. This leave will be paid for employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service.

Don’t forget that a mother who experiences a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy is still entitled to her full maternity leave and pay entitlements.

There is no entitlement for employers to request a death certificate.

Leave can be taken in one block of two weeks or two blocks of a week and there is no notice requirements for leave to give parents and carers the space to grieve in their own way. The leave must however be taken within 56 weeks of the child’s death.

Aggravated Breaches

The Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 increases the maximum penalty a tribunal can order for an aggravated breach of a worker’s rights from £5,000 to £20,000. This penalty is used where an employer has been found to have deliberately ignored the rights of their employees.

While this guide covers the basics, every situation has its own complexities so you should always seek professional advice. Silk Helix can help so give us a call on 01245 910 500 to discuss, or we will call you:

Article last updated: 23 April 2020

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