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It's not all about the 'B' word - Employment law changes in 2019

View profile for Emily Yeardley
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As a new year begins, we bring news of the employment law changes expected in 2019 and beyond. Although Brexit is, of course, the hot topic of legal uncertainty to look forward to this year, there are also other employment developments that should not be overlooked.

Brexit

Whether the Government are able to negotiate a Brexit deal or not, it is likely that employment law changes will not take place imminently as, in the event of a deal, all EU employment laws will remain for a transition period until the end of 2020. If it’s a ‘no deal’ Brexit, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019 contains provisions on how EU law and decisions will apply post-Brexit, but we cannot discount the possibility that Brexit may be postponed or even revoked. We will have to wait and see what happens as it is still unclear.

It is likely that, whatever the outcome, changes will occur in relation to hiring European Union (EU) nationals. When the UK leave the EU, free movement of people will be at an end and the laws around hiring EU nationals will inevitably change. Although the practicality of these arrangements is likely to take significant time to implement, employers and employees should be aware that regulations surrounding such recruitment are likely to be more restricted and internal processes will need to be adjusted much like they currently are for other foreign nationals.

If you are an EU worker already in the UK, you can apply for ‘settled status’ to seek permission to work and live here indefinitely.

National minimum wage

The national minimum wage is the minimum pay per hour that workers are entitled to by law, in the UK.

On 1st April 2019, the national minimum wage is due to increase to the following rates:

Worker age

Current rates

New rates

25 and over

£7.83

£8.21

21 - 24

£7.38

£7.70

18 - 20

£5.90

£6.15

Under 18

£4.20

£4.35

 

Additionally, the national living wage is due to increase to £8.21 per hour.

Executive pay reporting

From 1 January 2020, UK quoted companies will have to report on pay and benefits ratios between the CEO and other employees, if the company has more than 250 employees. The rules came into force on 1 January 2019 but will only apply to financial years commencing on or after 1 January 2020, so whilst there is still time, companies would be best placed to begin preparing such reports now and gathering all the relevant evidence in anticipation for next year.

Parental bereavement leave

New proposals are being considered in 2019 to introduce a right for bereaved parents to have paid time off work. According to the proposals, parents will be able to take a maximum of 2 weeks paid leave (whether it be 2 consecutive weeks or 2 single weeks) within 56 weeks of their child’s death.

It is important to note that this right will not be fully implemented until 2020, however, employers may wish to create their own parental bereavement policies in preparation for the new legislation.

For more information, please refer to our earlier blog “The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay Act 2018)” https://www.baker-law.co.uk/site/blog/baker-law-legal-blog/the-parental-bereavement-leave-and-pay-act-2018.

Statutory sick pay and family rates

Statutory sick pay is the minimum amount an employer has to pay to a qualifying employee if they are sick.  

From 6th April 2019, the statutory sick pay weekly rate is due to increase from £92.05 to £94.25.

In addition, the weekly rate for family pay (i.e. maternity pay, adoption pay, shared parental pay and maternity allowance) is due to increase from £145.18 to £148.68 from 7th April 2019.

Gender pay gap report

The deadline is fast approaching for the second round of gender pay gap reports to be published on the gov.uk website, as well as on the company’s own website. It is a legal requirement for companies with more than 250 employees to publish a report illustrating the percentage pay gap between male and female employees. Companies within the public sector have until the 30th March 2019 to submit their reports, whereas companies in the private or voluntary sectors have until the 4th April 2019.

In addition to the above, companies in the private or voluntary sectors must provide a written statement confirming the accuracy of their report. Although there is no requirement for companies to provide any explanation as to why there is a difference in pay, if the report identifies one it may be a good idea for companies to issue a narrative to accompany the report in an attempt to mitigate any potential reputational damage.

Itemised pay statements

From 6th April 2019, workers as well as employees will have the right to be given a written itemised pay statement from their employers at or before any payment of salary or wages is made, including the total number of hours worked for which any variable pay is received.

Further changes expected

Will 2019 be the year that further clarity is provided on the employment status tests? The Government has proposed changes including extending the length of time to demonstrate a break in continuity of service from one to four weeks.

The Government is planning a new ‘name and shame’ scheme for employers who fail to pay Employment Tribunal awards, which will be welcome news! This coupled with plans to introduce penalties for repeated breaches by employers and an increase from £5,000 to £20,000 on the 6th April 2019, to the limit of financial penalties that the Employment Tribunal can order for aggravated breaches, should help to tackle the issue of unpaid Judgments.

It is planned that we will see an extension of IR35 to the private sector in 2020.

If you would like to discuss any of the above with our Employment Team, please do not hesitate to contact us.

This article is not a definitive statement of the law. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. It is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. BakerLaw LLP and/or the writer accepts no liability or responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.

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