These may be uncertain times, what with a general election, Brexit, unstable economic performance and climate concerns, but that doesn’t stop the need for businesses to be able to plan for what is known.

Having had a period of quiet in relation to employment legislation over the past couple of years, there have been a stream of consultations and proposals which will see changes in the coming months and potential overhaul of some legislation in the next couple of years.   

To help you plan for these, we have set out the timeline of what is currently known and what current consultations are underway which may see further changes in the future.  

LEGISLATION CHANGES ON 6 APRIL 2020.

1. The removal of the ‘Swedish Derogation’ in the Agency Workers Regulations

2. The requirement to provide a Written Statement of Main Terms and Conditions (commonly referred to as the section 1 statement) will need to be provided from day one of employment rather than within the first 2 months.

3. The requirement to provide a Written Statement of Main Terms and Conditions will be extended to Workers as well.  It is not just employees that you will need to provide them to.

4. There is likely to be an annual rise in the ‘Vento Bands’ relating to the level of compensation awarded for an injury to feelings.  The current bands are:

  • Lower band: £900 - £8,800.
    • Middle band: £8,800 - £26,300.
      • Upper band: £26,300 - £44,000.

5. The threshold required for a request from employees to set up an information and consultation committee of some sort to provide for workplace communication will be reduced from the current 10% to 2% of employees, subject to the existing minimum of 15 employees.  This legislation was originally introduced in 1998 and has been little used.  This is therefore clearly an attempt by the government to provide greater power to employees to be able to force employers to provide formal communication and consultation mechanisms.  If you already have a compliant information and consultation system in place, this legislation will not affect you.

6. The calculation of holiday pay will be changing again.  The Working Time Regulations (reg 16) will be amended to increase the reference period for determining an average week's pay (for the purposes of calculating holiday pay) from 12 weeks to 52 weeks.  You better start changing those spreadsheets again!

7. Taxation of termination payments.  From 6 April 2020, any termination payment made to an employee that is over £30,000 will not only be taxed (as of course is the case now) but will also be subject to Class 1A Employer National Insurance Contributions.

8. Parental bereavement leave and pay (this one isn’t confirmed for 6 April 2020 but we are still expecting it to happen on this date).  On 13 September 2018 the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018, which was introduced as a private members' bill, received Royal Assent.  The legislation provided that parents are entitled to two weeks' leave and statutory bereavement pay if they lose a child under the age of 18 (including a still birth after 24 weeks of pregnancy).  The regulations implementing this are yet to be published but we still anticipate that this will come into effect in April 2020.

LEGISLATION CHANGES ON 30 APRIL 2020.

Employment Agencies must provide their workers whose contracts provide for a Swedish Derogation, with confirmation in writing that those provisions no longer apply.

LEGISLATION CHANGES ON 1 AUGUST 2022?

The European Union published its Directive on Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions in the EU on 11 July 2019.  The Directive requires Member States to implement legislation that will provide an entitlement for workers to receive information about their working conditions as soon as their employment commences.  Of course, the requirement for the UK to comply with this will be dependent upon whether it remains in the EU or not.  In any event, as a result of the provisions of the Taylor Report, the UK is already implementing similar legislation such as the requirement to provide the section 1 statement of main terms of conditions from day 1 of employment (above). 

CURRENT GOVERNMENT CONSULTATIONS.

Good Work Plan: consultation on measures to address one-sided flexibility

This consultation will provide recommendations to the government about how to tackle the problem of "one-sided flexibility" such as self-employment, zero hours contracts and part time working.   The consultation is specifically looking at proposals by the Low Pay Commission to provide that workers must be given reasonable notice of their working hours and for compensation to be paid if their shifts are then cancelled or reduced at short notice.  The consultation closed 19 October 2019.  We await publication of the report.

Discrimination and Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)

The government published its response to the consultation on the use of non-disclosure agreement in discrimination matters on 21 July 2019.  The outcome of the consultation is that the government proposes to introduce legislation to prevent the use of confidentiality clauses in any employment contract or settlement agreement which prevents disclosure of harassment or discrimination to the police, regulated health care professionals and lawyers.  Therapists and Counsellors are not covered as the proposals stand currently.

Change (again!) to the family related leave and pay system

The government will be undertaking a review of the Shared Parental Leave System and the provisions for family generally.  Specifically, they have already stated that they will be looking at:

  • the amount of paternity leave and/or pay;
  • whether the timing of any further paternity leave be left flexible;
  • what reforms of SPL may be required to simplify the system;
  • whether there should be enhanced pay for SPL;
  • whether there should be a "dedicated pot" of leave for each parent;
  • whether there should be pay to incentivise the take up of parental leave;
  • whether there should be a radical overhaul which gives a family a set of entitlements.

Neonatal care leave

It is estimated that 100,000 babies are born prematurely and need neonatal care every year.  The proposal as set out in the consultation is that parents of any baby requiring neonatal care of of two weeks or more will be given a week’s leave for each week that the baby is in neonatal care.  The consultation closed in October 2019 and we are awaiting the government’s response.

NEED SUPPORT?

We offer all the necessary support and advice for HR and Employment Law including Employment Tribunal support.  We have many flexible packages of support which enable you to budget for the support that you need throughout the year, and the peace of mind that you need in relation to tribunal claims, which we can also include in the package of cover.

Do always keep an eye out for our legal update sessions in Cardiff and Bristol. 

GET IN TOUCH.

If you require any legal advice on any employment or HR matter, please call Matt Huggett on (Bristol) 0117 332 8333 or (Cardiff) 029 2167 1555 or email matthew.huggett@carbonlawpartners.com