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Legal update - Employment Law Changes from 6 April 2020

Posted on 11/03/2020 by Jo Hodge

Winckworth Sherwood

Louise Lawrence, from Winckworth Sherwood, has put together a legal update looking at the main employment law changes which are coming into force from 6 April 2020:

Statement of Particulars of Employment

Under Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (“ERA”), there are certain particulars which have to be provided to employees in writing such as their start date, their place of work and remuneration (which we will refer to in this blog as the Section 1 statement).  Most employers incorporate these minimum provisions into a contract of employment which includes additional provisions which protect the employer such as confidentiality obligations and post-termination restrictive covenants.  From 6 April 2020, the law is changing in relation to what particulars have to be provided, the timing of providing the particulars and who the particulars have to be provided to:

  1. The Section 1 statement will have to be given on or before the first day of employment (rather than within the first two months of employment starting, which is the current position).  There is a limited exception to this rule with the following particulars being able to be given within the first two months:
    • Pensions and pension schemes;
    • Any training entitlement provided by the employer;
    • Collective agreements; and
    • Disciplinary and grievance particulars.
  2. The biggest change is that the obligation to provide a written statement of particulars is being extended to the wider category of “workers”.  Employers will therefore have a duty to provide zero-hours workers or casual workers with written contracts which are compliant with Section 1 of the ERA.  The change only applies to those workers starting work on or after 6 April 2020 so existing workers will not be entitled to a Section 1 statement. 
  3. The exemption that a Section 1 statement did not need to be provided if an employee has less than one month’s employment is being abolished so even employees and workers with short-term contracts will be covered.
  4.  The following additional particulars need to be included in the Section 1 statement from 6 April 2020:
    • Any terms relating to the:
      • Days of the week on which the worker is required to work;
      • Whether or not hours or days may be variable and, if so, how;
    • Paid leave entitlements in addition to holiday;
    • Details of any other benefits provided by the employer;
    • Any applicable probationary period, including the conditions and duration; and
    • Any training entitlement provided by the employer including whether it is compulsory and/or must be paid for by the worker.

The general principle is that the written particulars have to be provided in a single document.  The exception to this is the terms relating to:

  • Incapacity and sick pay;
  • Pensions and pension schemes;
  • Any training entitlement provided by the employer; and
  • Notice periods by the employer and the employee.

These particulars can be provided in other documents provided they are reasonably accessible and those documents are referred to in the principal statement itself.

As a result of the above changes, employers need to review their template contracts of employments and add the additional mandatory particulars.  Employers will also need to produce a template contract for workers, if they do not already have one in place, which can be given to new joiners from 6 April.

Bereavement Leave and Pay

Employees will be entitled to take up to two weeks’ leave following the death of a child under 18 or where there is a still birth after 24 weeks of pregnancy.  The leave has to be taken within 56 weeks of the death or still birth.  An employee who has 26 weeks’ service at the time of the death or the still birth and earns more than the lower earnings limit, is entitled to statutory pay during this leave, which is currently £148.68 per week. 

Holiday Pay

The government is increasing the reference period for the calculation of holiday pay from 12 weeks to 52 weeks.  This means that holiday pay will be calculated by looking at the worker’s average remuneration over the period of 52 weeks before they take their holiday. 

Agency Workers

The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 provides that agency workers who have undertaken the same role, whether on one or more assignments, with the same hirer for 12 continuous weeks, are entitled to the same pay for the role as if they had been recruited directly by the hirer.  If, however, a temporary work agency provides the agency worker with a permanent contract of employment compliant with minimum requirements and pays them a minimum amount between assignments when they are not working for a hirer, the agency worker does not have this right to equal treatment. This is called the Swedish Derogation and it is being repealed from the 6 April.  This means that all agency workers with have a right to pay parity after 12 weeks.

Any temporary work agencies that are using the Swedish Derogation are required to notify affected agency workers on or before 30 April 2020 that with effect from 6 April 2020 the agency worker is entitled to equal treatment relating to pay subject to completion of the 12 week period and the Swedish derogation in their contract no longer has effect.

Termination Payments

From 6 April 2020, employer national insurance contributions will apply to termination payments to the extent that they exceed £30,000.  Termination payments will still be free of employee national insurance contributions.  This is a cost consideration that employers will want to take into account when considering the level of a termination payment to be offered to an employee.

For more information or advice on the upconing changesm please get in touch with Loiuse on 020 7593 5082 or email