Employment Law Update April 2020 Burnett Barker Solicitors

Where the focus is very much on making sure employees are safe and well, you might have missed some of the changes to employment regulations. Not to worry. We have summarised the changes that came into force this week (from Monday 6 April 2020) in our Employment Law Update.

Written Terms of Employment

Employers must now provide written terms of employment on or before the person’s first day of work.

Many employers will already have this covered within their ‘offer’ letter or email correspondence. It is worth checking to make sure that you have covered all the required points and that these are contained in one document. Exact details can be found on the ACAS website.

Consider Contracts of Employment

Since written terms of employment are primarily there to benefit the employee, we recommend that employers issue contracts of employment. These will offer more protection for both the employer and the employee.

Where an employer has a number of employees in similar roles with similar working arrangements, it is often possible to create a ‘boilerplate’ contract. The employer simply inputs the necessary details on a per-person basis.

Need help preparing contracts?

We can often complete contracts of employment for a fixed fee

We also offer a one-hour £99 fixed-fee consultation for employees concerned about their employment status. This can be carried out by phone or via Skype during the current coronavirus lockdown.

Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay

Hopefully, the provisions made under Jack’s Law will not need to be used by anybody in your organisation. However, you will want to be up-to-date with parental leave entitlement in the event of the sad passing of a child.

Jack’s Law is in memory of Jack Herd, whose mother campaigned tirelessly for the right for paid parental bereavement leave.

Under the Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act 2018, all employed parents now have the right to two weeks’ leave if they suffer the devastating loss of a child. This applies where the child is under the age of 18 or if they experience a stillbirth at 24 weeks or later.

Currently, two weeks paid bereavement leave is the longest period parents are legally entitled to in the World.

Right to time off

All employees have the right to take time off from the day they start their job.

Right to paid leave

Employees are entitled to paid leave (bereavement pay) if they:

  • Were employed when their child died
  • Had worked for their employer for at least 26 weeks and;
  • Earn, on average, at least £120 per week before tax.

Employees may also benefit from the following statutory rights, depending on the circumstances:

  • The right to unpaid time off for dependants
  • The right to maternity or paternity leave, in the event of stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy or a neonatal death

Consider a Bereavement Policy

Employers may wish to implement a Bereavement Policy to help explain their policies and procedures to staff. As an example of a Bereavement Policy, ACAS provides a basic example that is free to download and use.

Looking for a comprehensive Bereavement Policy?

We can assist employers for a fixed fee.

Holiday Pay calculations

The period used to calculate a week's holiday pay has increased from the previous 12 weeks of work to the last 52 weeks.

Employers will need to consider whether their Staff Handbooks and/or Holiday/Absence Policies need updating considering this change.

Information and Consultation Agreements

Employers with 50 employees or more should be aware of changes to the consultation on workplace matters. The minimum number of employees required to request a formal agreement to be informed and consulted about workplace matters has reduced to 2% of employees. This is, however, subject to a minimum of 15 employees. New guidelines are on the ACAS website. With the minimum number of employees needed though, this is more of an issue for organisations employing 750 or more people.

Some employers below the threshold will want to consider a Workplace Forum to engage with staff. We are happy to assist with an Information and Consultation Agreement and various other documents relating to setting up and running one voluntarily.

Agency Workers' Rights

There are three changes to agency workers’ rights that came into effect from 6 April 2020. These are:

  • Abolition of the Swedish Derogation (often referred to as ‘pay between assignment’ contracts). Previously, agency workers could agree to a contract that would remove their right to equal pay to their permanent counterparts after 12 weeks of working at the same assignment. These contracts are no longer permissible. This means that all agency workers, after 12 weeks, will be entitled to the same rate of pay as their permanent counterparts.
  • All agency workers are now entitled to receive a document outlining their employment relationship and terms and conditions with their agency.
  • Agency workers who are deemed to be employees will be protected from unfair dismissal or suffering a detriment. This is if the reasons are related to asserting rights within The Agency Worker Regulations.

Further information is contained on the Agency Workers page on the ACAS website.

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

We know you’ll already have this covered. However, we couldn’t prepare an employment law update without including the new National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates.

The rates that came into force on 1 April 2020 are:

 

25 and over21 to 2418 to 20Under 18Apprentice
£8.72£8.20£6.45£4.55£4.15

 

We hope you found this employment law update useful.

Burnett Barker Solicitors are happy to advise employers and employees on these and any other employment issues, usually for an initial fixed-fee.

Please do contact us to find out what your options are.