In April 2020, important changes were made to the rights of employees and workers. However, the onset of the global pandemic meant that it was very easy for these changes to be missed, or for HR departments to have focused on other pressing issues. Despite this, it remains important to make sure that your business is compliant with the new rules.
This article highlights the most significant changes, the basic requirements for compliance and the importance of keeping up to date with changes in employment law.
A written statement of employment terms (generally contained within an employment contract or written policies and procedures) must now be provided to all employees and workers on the first day of their employment, regardless of how long they will be employed for. If an employee or worker who started their job before 6 April 2020 requests written terms, this must be provided within one month, providing that they are within three months of their leaving date.
There are very specific requirements for the content of the written terms. It is highly recommended to seek employment law advice to make sure that your employment terms are compliant with the latest laws.
If you have not complied, and your employee or worker has another valid claim (for example, for unfair dismissal), the Employment Tribunal can award a compensation payment of up to four weeks’ pay or up to £2,152. This can be an expensive mistake to make!
All employed parents now have the right to two weeks’ paid leave on the death of a child aged under 18, or if they have a stillbirth at 24 weeks or later.
Employed parents have the right to this leave from the day they start their job.
Employees and workers are now also entitled to statutory parental bereavement pay. Eligible employees and workers must be paid £151.20 a week or 90% of their average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.
As of 6 April 2020, you must calculate a weeks’ pay for holiday purposes based on the previous 52 weeks worked. Previously, the calculation was based on the previous 12 weeks of work. This significant increase is designed to benefit seasonal workers.
Agency workers are now entitled to the same rate of pay as any permanent employees or workers after 12 weeks. They are also entitled to a ‘key information’ document setting out the pay they will receive and the type of contract they will have.
The coronavirus pandemic has significantly changed the way many of us are working, with consequences for employers, employees and workers. Whether the issue relates to furlough leave, redundancy or sickness, the laws are not always straightforward. It is always recommended that you seek specific legal advice if you have any concerns about how to handle a situation – compliance first reduces the risk of a large legal bill later.
It is also recommended that any employer conducts periodical reviews to ensure their compliance with the current law. Important areas to consider include:
As of 1 April 2021, employees and workers aged 23 and over are entitled to the ‘National Living Wage’, which has increased from £8.72 per hour to £8.91 per hour. All other rates have also increased.
In considering whether an employee or worker is being paid the statutory minimum wage, it may be necessary to look beyond the obvious. For example, employees and workers must be paid for training time and applicable travelling time. It is also important to make sure that any excess hours worked by salaried workers does not bring the average hourly rate below the statutory minimum wage.
A failure to pay the statutory minimum wage can be reported anonymously to the HMRC. If an employer is found not to have paid at least the minimum wage, they can be issued with a penalty along with a notice of arrears. If the HMRC decides to take an employer to court, the maximum fine for non-payment of the minimum wage is up to £20,000 per employee or worker.
An employee or worker can also take their employer to an employment tribunal or civil court.
It is extremely important that all employers take the time to review their documents and practices. Whilst it can be time consuming, the penalties for making a mistake can be high, whether this is damage to reputation or financial. It is recommended that an employer seeks independent legal advice on any issues they are unsure about.
We recommend that you seek independent legal advice on all employment related matters, the team at Fraser Dawbarns will be happy to provide assistance on a wide range of employment related matters, including help with compliance and with drafting written terms.
This article aims to supply general information, but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek advice specific to your own circumstances. Fraser Dawbarns LLP are always happy to provide such advice.
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