April 2020 employment law changes: eight tasks for HR

From 6 April employers need to provide a written statement of terms and conditions to all workers, not just employees.
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Each April, HR professionals must ensure that their organisation complies with the latest round of amended employment laws and deadlines. As well as dealing with the ongoing impact of coronavirus (Covid-19), important issues for HR in April 2020 include changes to written statements of terms and conditions, the introduction of parental bereavement leave and pay, and changes to the law on calculating holiday pay for workers with irregular hours.

There are also the usual increases to the national minimum wage, maternity pay, statutory sick pay and redundancy payments. Meanwhile, the government has confirmed that the extension of IR35 tax rules to private-sector employers will be delayed until 6 April 2021.

1. Comply with changes to written statements of terms and conditions

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Coronavirus continues to present challenges for HR professionals, including how to manage sick pay, planning for business continuity and ensuring the health and safety of staff.

XpertHR’s continuously updated resources on coronavirus will help you navigate the various issues.

From 6 April 2020, the requirement to provide a written statement of terms and conditions extends to workers, not just employees. This includes casual and zero hours workers.

The right to a statement no longer requires a minimum length of service and applies from the worker’s first day working for the organisation.

There are also changes to the information that the written statement must include. HR professionals should ensure that workers starting on or after 6 April 2020 are provided with compliant written statements on or before their first working day.

2. Implement new right to parental bereavement leave and pay

Legal timetable
XpertHR’s legal timetable provides summaries of all pending employment laws and regulations, with implementation dates.

Bereaved parents of a child who dies on or after 6 April 2020 have a new right to take up to two weeks’ parental bereavement leave with pay at a statutory minimum rate.

The right, sometimes referred to as “Jack’s Law”, also applies to stillbirths occurring after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

HR professionals should review their organisation’s policies and procedures now to ensure that they include time off for bereaved parents. Organisations will need to communicate these policy changes as soon as possible, ideally by 3 April 2020.

Line managers will also require guidance on how to manage parental bereavement leave.

3. Meet your third gender pay gap reporting deadline

Brexit

With the transition period for Brexit ending on 31 December 2020, HR professionals will need to take this time to prepare for the end of free movement.

XpertHR’s key resources on Brexit guide you through the issues you need to deal with.

Most businesses with 250 or more employees would have already been in the process of finalising their gender pay gap reports, their third one since the reporting requirements came into force in April 2017.

Last month, however, the government announced it was suspending enforcement of the gender pay gap reporting requirements this year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The deadline for private-sector and voluntary-sector employers to publish their third gender pay gap report was 4 April 2020, while public-sector employers were required to have published theirs no later than 30 March 2020.

As most employers will have their data ready by now, they are urged to publish their reports when the coronavirus outbreak has passed.

When the time comes to publish, the gender pay gap report must appear on the employer’s website in a publicly accessible manner and, once published, must remain there for at least three years.

Employers should upload the gender pay gap results to the Government’s reporting website. Although commentary on the gender pay gap results is not required, many organisations are choosing to add a narrative to help to put their numbers in context, particularly where there is a wide gender pay gap.

Despite the lack of enforcement, failure to report by the required deadline (when the suspension on gender pay gap reporting is lifted) may still adversely affect your organisation’s reputation not only in relation to current and future employees, but also customers and competitors.

4. Ensure workers are paid the national minimum wage

HR professionals should make sure that workers are being paid at least the national minimum wage that applies to them.

The national living wage for workers aged 25 and over increases to £8.72 per hour on 1 April 2020.

Other national minimum wage rates also increase on 1 April 2020, with hourly rates rising to £8.20 for workers aged 21 to 24, to £6.45 for workers aged 18 to 20 and to £4.55 for workers aged 16 or 17.

HR must keep adequate records of all payments so that they can show that their organisation has complied with the national minimum wage rules.

5. Increase statutory family-related pay and statutory sick pay

Unfair dismissal compensation

The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal increases from £86,444 to £88,519 for dismissals that take place on or after 6 April 2020.

The weekly rate of statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay increases to £151.20 from 5 April 2020.

The weekly rate of statutory sick pay increases to £95.85 from 6 April 2020.

It is up to HR to make sure that staff on maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental leave and sick leave are paid these statutory minimum rates.

HR professionals also need to review their policies and documents that mention the rates, such as their maternity policies and sickness absence procedures.

In the wake of coronavirus (Covid-19), the Government has announced that it will introduce measures requiring employers to pay statutory sick pay from the first day of an employee’s sickness, rather than after three waiting days. HR professionals should monitor the situation to ensure employees are paid at the appropriate time.

6. Update your organisation’s statutory redundancy pay calculations

New limits on employment statutory redundancy pay come into force on 6 April 2020.

Employers that dismiss employees for redundancy must pay those with two years’ service an amount based on the employee’s weekly pay, length of service and age. The weekly pay is subject to a maximum amount. This amount is £538 from 6 April 2020.

HR professionals should ensure that calculations for statutory redundancy payments are made on the basis of this maximum amount for redundancy dismissals on or after 6 April 2020.

7. Adjust holiday pay calculations for workers with irregular hours

On 6 April 2020, the holiday pay reference period for workers without normal working hours increases from 12 weeks to 52 weeks.

HR professionals will need to adjust how they calculate holiday pay for workers with irregular hours, for example those in seasonal or atypical roles. Your organisation’s holiday policy may also require adjusting if it refers to the holiday pay reference period.

HR professionals should also check the contracts of employment of workers with irregular working hours to ensure that, where the reference period is mentioned, it is updated with the new period.

8. Ensure qualifying agency workers receive equal pay

On 6 April 2020, the ability for employers to pay agency workers less than their own workers in certain circumstances, also known as the “Swedish derogation”, is abolished.

Under the derogation, agency workers can exchange their right to be paid the same as directly recruited employees for a contract guaranteeing pay between assignments.

Following the abolition of the derogation, HR professionals must ensure that agency workers who have completed the 12-week qualifying period are paid equally to other staff.

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