Employment Law has not stopped because of the Coronavirus...
A summary of recent changes
Recently, Coronavirus-related issues have been front and centre for all Human Resources professionals and other senior managers dealing with the crisis. However, employment law has not stopped applying in the workplace and all the actions you take as an employer must still comply with existing legislation, as well as the new rules introduced to cope with the pandemic. Firstly let's look at these new measures...
What are the new Coronavirus measures?
The most significant of the Coronavirus measures is undoubtedly the job retention scheme (CJRS). This allows employers to ‘furlough’ workers, with their consent, and give the business time to recover. The scheme allows employers to reclaim 80% of employees’ salaries up to a maximum of £2,500 per person. We have published a more detailed article on the CJRS and how it works in practice, which you can read here.
Other important changes brought about by the emergency response to the pandemic include the following...
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is available from day one for employees with COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolating or those shielding. There will also be rebates available for employers.
- Statutory Volunteering Leave is being introduced as a right so that workers can take up to 4 weeks leave to carry out emergency volunteering in the health and social care sector during the pandemic. More information about the scheme is due to be published shortly.
- Workers who have not been able to take their full statutory entitlement to holiday leave will now be able to carry the leave over for up to 2 years.
- Enforcement of the law on Gender Pay Gap Reporting has been suspended for a year. This relates to the publication of pay gap data for companies with 250+ workers, although the data should still be collected.
- The government announced in March that it was postponing the introduction of the new off payroll working rules (IR35) to the private sector until 6th April 2021. The government remains committed to the reforms and employers and contractors should continue to prepare. You can find out more about this by attending our course on the subject, which is now available online.
Full guidance for employers on employment issues affected by the virus can be found on this page of the Gov.uk website.
What are the other changes to employment law?
As well as emergency Coronavirus measures there have also been recent changes to employment law that were already in the pipeline. I have outlined the most significant of these below.
Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay
Employees who lose a child under 18, or suffer a stillbirth from the 24th week of pregnancy, now have the right to 2 weeks’ leave. The leave may be taken in blocks or together during the 56 weeks following the child’s death. The same qualifying service and rates apply as for statutory maternity and paternity pay.
Written Terms from Day One
All workers must now receive a written statement of particulars, containing their employment terms and conditions, from day one. Previously, this must have been done within two months.
National Minimum Wage changes
The National Living Wage for workers aged 25 and over is now £8.72 per hour. The rates for lower age bands can be found on this page, as can information on all the other statutory rates and thresholds.
The government has resumed the ‘naming and shaming’ of businesses that fail to comply with the National Minimum Wage regulations. However it has raised the threshold at which this occurs from £100 to £500 in payment arrears.
The reference period for determining an average week’s pay has been extended from 12 weeks to 52 weeks from 6th April 2020. This is intended to improve holiday pay for seasonal workers, who tended to lose out using the previous calculation method.
Written by Paul Murphy