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Hot Topics for 2020

In this alert we look at a handful of important upcoming employment law changes to be aware of in 2020.

Upcoming changes to the law… 

Holiday reference period

The reference period for determining an average week’s pay for holiday pay purposes will be increased from 12 weeks to 52 weeks.  If the worker has been employed for less than 52 weeks, it will be the number of complete weeks for which the worker has been employed.  This change will come into effect from 6 April 2020 and will apply to periods of leave from that day onwards – it is not retrospective.

This will ensure that workers who do not have a regular working pattern throughout the year are not disadvantaged by having to take their holiday at a quiet time of the year when their weekly pay might be lower.

IR35 and off-payroll rules 

Private sector IR35 reform is set for April 2020, when the public sector rules will be applied to the private sector. This means private sector employers hiring contractors will be responsible for determining their IR35 status. Businesses and contractors should start preparing for this change as soon as possible. The Government is launching consultation aimed at helping private sector employers with the transition. 

Agency workers

From 6 April 2020, agency workers will be entitled to receive a document known as a ‘key information document’. It must contain specific details about their basic terms, including their type of contract, the minimum rate of pay they can expect, how they will be paid and by whom.

The “Swedish Derogation” which allows employment businesses to avoid pay parity between agency workers and direct employees if certain conditions are met will also be removed with effect from that date.  Agencies must inform relevant agency workers by 30 April 2020 that the Swedish Derogation no longer applies. 

Right to a written statement of terms

Currently employers have up to two months to issue a statement of employment terms to any employee working for them for more than a month (usually in the form of a contract of employment).  However, from 6 April 2020 both employees and workers must be provided with a written statement of terms on or before their first day of employment.

There is also additional information that written statements will need to contain than is currently required, including:

  • the hours and days of the week the worker/employee is required to work, whether they may be varied and how
  • entitlements to any paid leave
  • any other benefits not covered elsewhere in the written statement
  • details of any probationary period
  • details of training provided by the employer.

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 

Under the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Act, parents and primary carers will be entitled to time off work following the death of a child. This includes step-parents, adopters, foster parents and guardians, as well as more informal groups such close relatives or family friends who have taken responsibility for the child’s care in the absence of parents.

The Act provides for a minimum of two weeks’ bereavement leave to be taken within a period of 56 days from the date of death and can be taken as a single block of two separate blocks of one week.  It is expected that the right to paid leave will apply to employed parents regardless of their length of service, however regulations are expected to be published.  It is expected that the new statutory right will come into effect in April 2020.

It is important for employers to consider how any of the above may affect them and take any necessary steps in preparation for the changes.

This alert does not provide a full statement of the law and readers are advised to take legal advice before taking any action based on the information set out above. If you would like specific advice in relation to any employment law or HR related issues please contact our employment team on 01228 552600 or 01524 548494.  We will also be discussing what to expect in 2020 at our upcoming seminars!

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