Employment law changes you may have missed

With the Coronavirus pandemic being the main focus and topic of conversation in recent months, there may be employment law changes that you’ve accidentally missed. Here is a round-up of recent changes to be aware of, and as always, the NAS is here to support the shopfitting, fit-out and interior contracting sector, so if you have any questions around these topics, get in touch with us and we’ll do our best to advise.

IR35 Reforms

IR35 legislation was originally introduced in April 2000 to ensure that workers who provide their services through an intermediary – such as a limited company, personal service company, agency or partnership – but who would be an employee if they were contracted directly, pay the same amount of tax and National Insurance as employees. Changes to this legislation for medium and large organisations operating in the private sector were due to change on 6 April 2020, but will now happen on 6 April 2021. We advise reading this guidance on the GOV.UK website that will help your organisation prepare before the changes come in.

Civil Partnership Law

Since December 2019, opposite-sex couples in England and Wales have been able to form civil partnerships, with a similar change taking place in Northern Ireland in January 2020. Any survivor benefits that your organisation offers must now be available to opposite-sex civil partners, for example under a pension scheme or death in service benefits. Any references to “civil partners” should now include opposite-sex civil partners as well as same-sex civil partners in your policies and procedures.

Parental Bereavement Leave

Employees who lose a child under the age of 18 or suffer a still birth after 24 weeks are entitled to take two weeks’ parental bereavement leave in the 52 weeks after the child’s death. The leave must be paid if the employee has sufficient qualifying service.

Holiday Reference Period Increased

The holiday pay reference period for workers with irregular hours increased from 12 weeks to 52 weeks from 6 April. This is to ensure a fairer holiday pay system for workers whose hours and earnings fluctuate, and will give them greater flexibility in choosing when to take holiday.

Written Statement of T&Cs of Employment for Workers

The right to receive a written statement of terms and conditions of employment was extended to all workers, not just employees, on 6 April. The new rules extend the list of information you must provide to new workers, and also became a day-one right. Employees who joined your organisation before 6 April can request a written statement complying with the new requirements.

Abolition of the Swedish Derogation

Agency workers could previously sign an agreement removing their right to receive equal pay with a directly recruited employee, in return for guaranteed pay between assignments. Since 6 April this is no longer permitted and all agency workers are entitled to the same pay as your directly recruited employees after 12 weeks.

Information and Consultation Threshold Reduced

The threshold for a valid request to set up workplace information and consultation arrangements was reduced from 10% to 2% of employees from 6 April, however the need for the request to be made by at least 15 employees remains.