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There are a number of Employment law changes set to come into force on 6 April 2020, such as changes for agency workers, the introduction of Jack’s law, as well as revisions to written statements of employment. Here, Bray & Bray Solicitors takes a closer look at some key employment law changes that employers should be aware of over the coming months.

Changes for agency workers: Swedish Derogation

The Agency Worker Regulations 2010 (AWR) specifies that temporary agency workers employed for more than 12 weeks in the same role with an employer must receive the same basic pay and the same employment conditions as permanent staff. These rules were introduced to protect agency workers and to give them equal employment rights.

However, there has been a loophole used by employers to get around the AWR ruling where pay parity is concerned, known as the ‘Swedish derogation’ model. This loophole allows employers to opt out of implementing equal pay between agency staff and the permanent workforce, in return for guaranteeing agency staff a certain amount of pay when they have gaps between assignments.

When agency workers are hired out to client companies, it can be at whatever rate the employment agency and the client agree between themselves. The loophole is therefore possible because the contract is between client and agency; the agency workers are not employed directly by the client and so the AWR rules do not apply.

However, from 6 April 2020, there will no longer be an exemption from equal treatment provisions on pay (and holiday pay). This means that once the 12 week qualifying period has been completed, all agency workers will be entitled to the same pay as if they had been recruited directly by the hirer.

Introduction of the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018

Until recently, there has been no legal obligation for employers to provide paid time off for grieving parents. The Employment Rights Act 1996 gives employees to legal right to take ‘reasonable’ time off to deal with an emergency, however this entitlement is only to unpaid leave and does not necessarily allow for a longer time off to grieve.

This is set to change with the introduction of the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018. This new regulation will give all employed parents a day-one right to two weeks’ leave if they lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. Employed parents will also be able to claim pay for this period, subject to meeting eligibility criteria.

The new law, which is the first of its kind in the UK, was brought into fruition after a ten year campaign led by Lucy Herd, who fought tirelessly for changes to the law following the death of her one-year-old son Jack in 2010. The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act will be known hence forth as Jack’s Law.

IR35 changes for the private sector

HMRC is set to tighten the net on off-payroll working rules (IR35). The off-payroll working rules apply if a worker provides services to a client through an intermediary, but would be classed as an employee if they were contracted directly. The rules are designed to ensure workers pay broadly the same tax and National Insurance contributions as an employee.

Previously legislation ruled that if you are a worker and your client is in the public sector, it is their responsibility to decide your employment status. However, if you are a worker and your client is in the private sector, it’s your intermediary’s responsibility to decide your own employment status for each contract. The private sector includes third sector organisations, such as some charities.

But from 6 April 2020, both public sector authorities and medium and large-sized private sector clients will be responsible for deciding if the rules apply. This change is expected to bring in £3.1bn in additional tax revenues between 2020 and 2024, according to HMRC.

Holiday pay reference period adjustment

Commencing April 2020, the holiday pay reference period will be increased from 12 to 52 weeks where a worker has been with their employer for at least 52 weeks. In cases where a worker has been with their employer for less than 52 weeks, the reference period will be the number of weeks for which the worker has been employed. Contractually obliged overtime worked during the reference period must also be included in holiday pay.

It is hoped that the changes will better reflect the seasonal nature of casual and zero hours work, and will reduce the incentives for employers to either encourage workers to take annual leave before busy periods or to discourage workers from taking leave just after busy periods.

Changes to written statements of employment particulars

At present, if an employee’s employment contract lasts at least a month, they must be given a ‘written statement of employment particulars’ by their employer. This isn’t an employment contract but should include the main conditions of employment. There are a number of changes to this entitlement that will come into place on 6 April 2020 which employers should take note of.

Currently, employers are only obligated to provide statements to people with an employee status. However, the changes will see workers also receiving this entitlement. Plus, the entitlement will become a “day one right”, with the one month qualifying period set to be abolished. This means that all employees and workers must be provided with written particulars of employment from the day they start, no matter how long they are working for the company or organisation.

In addition to the information currently required, the statement will also need to contain information regarding:

  • The days of the week the employee/worker is required to work.
  • Whether the hours of work may be variable and, if so, how the variation will be determined.
  • Entitlement to other types of paid leave, such as maternity or paternity leave.
  • Any additional remuneration and/or benefits available.
  • Probationary periods (if relevant).
  • Any required training which the worker will need to complete, or any other training in respect of which the organisation will not bear the cost.

Get in touch

If you have any further questions about any matters relating to Employment law changes, please do get in touch. The Bray & Bray team and will be happy to provide legal advice.

We have three main offices in Leicestershire and one in Corby. Drop in and see us at your local office, or get in touch to discuss any enquiries you may have:

Leicester call us on 0116 254 8871

Hinckley call us on 01455 639 900

Market Harborough call us on 01858 467 181

Corby (by appointment only) call us on 01536 851050