As the government starts to ease lockdown requirements, businesses and HR teams need to make sure they are fully compliant with the latest raft of employment law changes. Michael Shroot explains the implications of five important reforms.
1. Changes to written terms for workers
Workers now have the same right as employees to a statement of terms and conditions from the employer. This regulation, which came into effect from April 6, means workers must receive their written statement from day one, as opposed to after two months’ service.
The information employers are required to provide in the written statement has also been extended to include details such as:
- normal working days and hours
- training provision from the employer
- nature and length of the probationary period
- entitlements to any paid leave
- benefits not outlined in other parts of the written statement
2. New parental bereavement regulations
Also known as ‘Jack’s law’, this legislation relates to employees who have lost a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from the 24th week of pregnancy on or after April 6, 2020.
It gives grieving parents a fresh right to take a maximum of two weeks’ parental bereavement leave with pay at a statutory minimum rate.
Businesses and HR teams are advised to make sure their procedures are updated to incorporate this type of leave. In addition, line managers should be fully briefed on how to deal with parents seeking bereavement leave.
3. Major changes to holiday pay
The holiday pay reference period for determining an average week’s pay for workers without normal working hours has been increased from 12 to 52 weeks. Where workers have been engaged for less than 52 weeks, the relevant period is the total number of complete weeks.
Implemented on April 6, 2020 this change affects seasonal workers more than most, but also applies to employees without normal working hours, for whom a week’s pay is now calculated over the previous 52 weeks. This ignores weeks in which no remuneration was paid, with earlier weeks taken into account up to a maximum of 104 weeks before the relevant date. It is also important to keep in mind that the week’s pay may also include any overtime payments as well as commission.
Businesses and HR professionals should revise the way they work out holiday pay for workers whose hours are irregular, such as those involved in seasonal activities. In addition, a business’ holiday policy might need to be modified in light of changes to the holiday pay reference period.
It is also advisable to carry out a compliance check of any contracts of employment for workers whose hours are irregular to make sure they are updated and comply with the new reference period requirement.
4. Equal pay for agency workers
Employers can no longer pay agency workers less than their own workers following the termination of the ‘Swedish derogation’ on 6 April 6, 2020.
As a result, agency workers must be paid the same as other staff at the end of a 12 week qualifying period. Also, temporary work agencies should have written to all agency workers explaining the change.
The Swedish derogation previously enabled agency workers to swap their right to pay parity with employees in return for a contract that guaranteed income between assignments.
The abolition of the derogation means businesses and HR teams should make sure agency workers receive pay parity with other staff at the end of the 12-week qualifying period.
5. Extra rights for agency workers
Another important consequence of the scrapping of the Swedish derogation is that agency workers must now be given a document containing key information.
- details of the type of contract
- method and rate of payment
- holiday entitlement
This reform is intended to deliver greater transparency and relates to all qualifying agency workers.
If you require further information on any aspect of these or other employment law issues, please contact Michael Shroot at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 0161 761 4611.