Employment and regulatory law developments: Nigel Tillott, Davies and Partners
Had it not been for the coronavirus outbreak, April 6 would have been regarded as a significant date in the employment law field.
I have already referred to the changes in previous updates. However, readers can be forgiven for overlooking these given that one or two other things may have been on their mind of late.
Given this, I thought it might be helpful if I provided some headlines. Then when the furlough leave, reduced hours, reduced pay scenario calms down a bit there may be a little time to turn to these matters: -
The National Minimum Wage is the most important one.
For many employers the further significant increase is not at all helpful at this point. Workers aged 25 and above will have their minimum wage increased from £8.21 to £8.72 per hour, those from 21 to 24 will have an increase from £7.70 to £8.20 per hour and those between 18 and 20 will have an increase from £6.15 to £6.45 per hour. 16- and 17-year olds will have an increase from £4.35 to £4.55 per hour and the apprenticeship rate will increase from £3.90 to £4.15 per hour.
SSP will rise by just over £1.00 to £95.85 per week and maternity, adoption and shared parental pay will rise from £148.68 to £151.20 per week.
Termination payments above £30,000 will now be subject to Class 1a National Insurance contributions (employer liability).
A more helpful change is the period for determining an average week's pay for calculating holiday pay will increase from 12 to 52 weeks.
There is a change for some agency workers in that what is known as the Swedish derogation will no longer exist. In most cases after a short time with an employer agency workers have to be paid at the same rate as those doing similar jobs on full‑time contracts but those under the derogation who basically had contracts with the agency through which they were paid even if not working didn't have to be paid by the end user at the same rate as direct employees. This is no longer the case.
It will also be easier for employees of businesses with at least 50 employees to force collective consultation under the often-ignored Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) regulations.
Changes to written particulars
Away from the pay increases the most significant changes relate to the right to written particulars. The right to written statements applies to all 'workers' as opposed to just employees from 6th April. The statement of terms and conditions will need to be provided from day 1 of employment. This is positive as it is good practice for employers to issue and agree the terms of employment contracts before an employee actually starts. This will encourage such a practice.
There are a whole raft of additional particulars which need to be provided including more specifics concerning the working days and hours, leave entitlements in addition to holiday and sick leave - for example family-friendly and compassionate leave rights, details of any other benefits, the detail of probationary periods and details around training entitlements and requirements. There is also a slight change to disciplinary and grievance procedures in that the person or the job description of a person to whom a grievance may be raised about their application must be specifically named.
There is no requirement for employers to go around issuing the updated statements to existing employees unless they request them, but as changes are made to terms and conditions of employment the enhanced agreements will need to be rolled out.
Parental bereavement leave
There is a new right to paid parental bereavement leave of 2 weeks if a working parent loses a child under the age of 18 or suffers a still birth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. The right to the leave applies irrespective of the length of service. Those employed for 6 months or more will be able to claim statutory pay for the period of leave.
In a complete change of subject many employers will be pleased to learn that the Supreme Court overturned the data leak decision against Morrisons supermarket. In this matter a disgruntled employee had deliberately leaked data.
He had been disciplined by the supermarket and responded by posting data relating to 100,000 staff on-line and sending it anonymously to UK newspapers. Until now the rulings had basically been that given that he was a Morrisons' employee Morrisons was liable for his actions.
The Supreme Court sensibly decided that the deliberate leak of data was not part of the employee's 'field of activities'. It was not something he was authorised to do. It is not clear how much the facts of the case will be applicable in other scenarios, but for now employers will be heaving a sigh of relief.
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