Round-Up of Employment Law Changes from April 2020

April has brought with it the usual annual increases to the national minimum wage and statutory pay for family-friendly leave and sickness absence. But the effects of Good Work: the Taylor review of modern working practices, published in 2017, are still being felt and changes are being introduced to protect vulnerable workers in increasingly flexible business models.

As Lisa Branker, employment law expert with Richard Reed explains, changes to IR35 tax rules are also expected along with the introduction of the right to parental bereavement leave. A raft of measures designed to protect vulnerable workers also come into force.

Changes took place on the following dates:

From 1 April 2020

  • Increase in the national living wage for workers aged 25 and over from £8.21 to £8.72 per hour.
  • Increase in the national minimum wage for workers aged at least 21 but under 25 from £7.70 to £8.20 per hour.
  • Increase in the national minimum wage for workers aged 18 but under 21 from £6.15 to £6.45 per hour.
  • Increase in the national minimum wage for workers aged 16 or 17 from £4.35 to £4.55 per hour.
  • Increase in the apprentice rate from £3.90 to £4.15 per hour.
  • Increase in the accommodation offset from £7.55 to £8.20 per day.

From 5 April 2020

  • Increase in the rate of statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay from £148.68 to £151.20 per week.

From 6 April 2020

  • Increase in statutory sick pay from £94.25 to £95.85 per week.

Bereavement leave

From 6 April 2020, bereaved parents will be entitled to two weeks’ leave if their child dies or is stillborn and leave will be paid if the parent meets certain criteria.

Statements of particulars

The Employment Rights Act 1996 lists the information that must be given to an employee in a ‘statement of particulars’ and this will have to be provided to workers as well as employees. Casual workers and individuals on zero hours contracts are likely to be categorised as workers and will benefit from this right. Determining worker status is a thorny issue in employment law. As a rule of thumb, workers do not have to accept offers of work unlike an employee. However, they do have to perform the work themselves, rather than send a substitute, which distinguishes them from a self-employed contractor.

The statement of particulars must be provided before or on the first day of work, although some information, such as relating to pensions and training, can follow within two months. Your standard statement of particulars or contract or employment may need updating to include additional information, required by changes to the Employment Rights Act 1996, such as the entitlement to training and other benefits.

These changes apply to staff joining on or after 6 April 2020 but watch out for triggers that entitle other staff to a new style statement of particulars. This could be an individual asking for a statement or making certain changes to terms and conditions.

Calculating holiday pay

To take account of peaks and troughs in work for casual staff and seasonal workers, the way in which holiday pay is calculated will change. Holiday pay for those working irregular hours will be calculated using average earnings over the previous 52 weeks. Before 6 April 2020, the average was calculated over 12 weeks.

IR35 rules extend to private sector

The IR35 rules apply to contractors who provide services through a limited company, but whose working arrangements are more like those of a directly engaged employee.

Changes in the rules from 6 April 2020 make the client, rather than the contractor, responsible for assessing the contractor’s tax status. If the individual is deemed an employee, the client has to deduct tax and national insurance through PAYE and pay employer’s national insurance contributions. This will bring the private sector in line with the public sector. Small businesses are exempt, using the Companies Act 2006 definition of a small company based on headcount, turnover and balance sheet.

The new rules will only apply to services delivered after 6 April 2020.

We can advise you on how best to handle these changes, including updating contracts of employment and assessing the status of your contractors. Please contact Lisa Branker in our employment law team on 0191 567 0465 or email us at: [email protected]

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