Changes to employment law in 2020

Partner and head of employment law at Richard Nelson, Jayne Harrison talks through changes to business law in 2020

03 Jan, 20

Partner and head of employment law at Richard Nelson, Jayne Harrison talks through changes in 2020

Changes to business law in 2020

Variable Pay

For workers with variable pay, the referencing period used to calculate their holiday pay is changing from the original 12 weeks.

From April 2020, SMEs must calculate their pay from a reference period of 52 weeks (or the number of weeks they have been employed for if less than 52).

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This change arose from issues with fluctuating pay where employees could receive a high holiday salary if leave was taken after a busy period or a low salary if their holiday was taken after a slow period.

SMEs must decide whether to implement this change at the start of the calendar year or on April 6 2020.

Implementing the change with the new year will minimise disruption if your fiscal year begins in January.

However, it will increase holiday pay for SMEs operating with overtime over the seasonal period.

If your financial year ends after April 6 and you wait, any holiday carried forward by employees will rise in value.

Therefore, it is recommended to limit the accrued holiday for this period.

Written Particulars

April 6, 2020 also brings changes to written particulars – the statement setting out the main employment terms for staff.

From this date, it will become a requirement for all workers to receive written particulars from the start of their employment contract.

This includes employees on minimum hours as well as workers on temporary/short-term contracts.

Currently, employers have up to two months to issue the statement to any employee working for them for more than a month.

But from April 2020 the right to a statement of written particulars will become a day one right and will include workers, not just employees.

For this, SMEs must begin revising their contracts to gain a head start, covering all particulars in one single document.

Specifically, SMEs must include, in addition to the current information that must be provided, the following :

  • Working hours, days of the week and whether/how this is variable
  • Entitlement to paid leave (e.g. maternity, paternity leave)
  • Remuneration or benefits from the employer (e.g. lunch, health insurance, vouchers)
  • Probation period and termination conditions
  • Required training for the role and whether this is expensed

Existing employees do not require this new information however they can request it and this must be honoured in one month.

SMEs must prepare for employees demanding a new statement and ensure any changes to employee contracts are discussed with existing employees beforehand.

Bereavement Leave

A bill approved in September 2018 is expected to come into force in 2020.

This entitles employees to two weeks of paid leave (with 26 weeks’ service at the statutory rate ) or two week’s unpaid leave (from the first day of work) for those who have suffered a stillbirth from the 24th week of pregnancy or lost a child under the age of 18.

SMEs should prepare a written bereavement leave policy to ensure employees have certainty over their rights.

It is also important to note employees are still entitled to full maternity leave and pay, along with paternity leave and shared parental leave.

Read more legal issues affecting kitchen and bathroom businesses.