5 employment law changes in 2020

A new year means new recruitment trends to look out for. Keeping on top of these and making appropriate changes to policy can separate the great employers from the good ones. However, it isn’t just market trends you need to keep an eye out for; employment law changes are just as important. 

After all, the last thing you want to do as an employer is to break the law. So it’s vital that you keep up to date with the changes, extensions or even new laws that will affect the recruitment landscape in 2020 

The Parental Leave and Pay Bill was enshrined in law in September 2018. However, it doesn’t come into force untiApril 2020 

The Act states that workers now have the right to paid leave if their child passes away. This means that employed, bereaved parents who lose a child under the age of 18 will now receive two weeks’ paid leave from their employer, as opposed to three days.  

It’s the first law of its kind in the UK and will help to support those affected by family tragedies. This Act is also applicable to pregnant workers who suffer a miscarriage.  

For employers, this means you’ll need to update any references to bereavement leave in your employee handbook; and contracts too if necessary. On a compassionate level, it’s always a good idea to remind employees of the emotional support you can offer to those dealing with grief of any kind. That may include setting up an Employee Assistance Programme.   

The Employment Rights extension 

The Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations Act 2019 has been extended, giving workers the right to a written contract that details the nature of their role and the code of conduct on their first day. This is one of the employment law changes that will affect probation periods and freelance work.  

Previously, workers that didn’t have full ‘employee’ status had no entitlement to a written statement. Without this documentation, workers’ rights were inconsistent and unspecified, making them difficult to upholdplus a working relationship is very difficult to define if there isn’t a contract. 

From April, the law will require employers to lay out a team member’s terms of employment from day one. By ensuring that you clearly specify the details and expectations of the roleyou’ll avoid any trouble further down the line; particularly if there is a dismissal or dispute during the contract. 

Points-based immigration system 

While this isn’t exactly one of the legislated employment law changes, there may be alterations to the immigration system in a post-EU United Kingdom.  

The Conservative government intends to introduce an Australian-style immigration process; and the party kept this as a key focus point when campaigning for Brexit and in the December general election.  

Introducing a system like this would mean that foreign workers are assigned points based on a number of professional characteristics. This includes the amount of time they’ve worked in a specific sector, their education level, previous job titles and their proficiency in the English language.  

It’s unclear what impact this could have on businesses, but it could spark trouble for companies that are heavily reliant on EU talent that don’t meet the criteria. 

IR35 extension 

Otherwise known as the new ‘off-payroll’ working rules, IR35 is set to roll out in April 2020. This new rule will make companies solely responsible for assessing whether a contractor should be considered a full-time employee.  

Essentially, IR35 is a law that allows HMRC to get additional payment when a contractor is an employee in all but name. If the contractor works in the public sector, the employer will decide whether they are a full-time employee; and will deduct income tax and National Insurance before they are paid.  

This has fallen under heavy criticism from the contractors it will affect; as such, Chancellor Sajid Javid is set to review it. However, it’s unlikely that he will make any huge changes.  

If your company employs contractors or freelancers, then this is one of the employment law changes you’ll need to keep an eye on.  

Holiday pay reference adjustment 

Finally, the holiday pay reference period will increase from 12 to 52 weeks for workers that have fluctuating shift patterns 

This basically means that as an employer, you will need to look back over the year to calculate their weekly pay, ignoring any weeks your worker did not earn.  

Keep track of the employment law changes 

As we approach the Brexit deadline, this shouldn’t be the sole focus for employers. However, there are clearly plenty of extensions, amends and employment law changes that your organisation will need to take note of.  

While the Chancellor has promised that he will review all of the changes to employment laws that’re coming into effect in April, there are unlikely to be any serious alterations. So, start making your plans as soon as possible to avoid breaking the law!