Tue 31 Mar 2020

April 2020 employment law changes

April is always a busy month in employment law, but implementation of legislation introduced by the Good Work Plan makes April 2020 especially so.  Here is what will be happening from April 2020.  Please note changes due to the coronavirus outbreak are not included in this article.

Good Work Plan

The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave)(Amendment) Regulations 2018 provides for a written statement of particulars to be given from day one of employment (rather than within the current two month period) and that certain additional information must also be included in the statement. It also increases the period for determining an average week's pay for the purposes of calculating annual leave from 12 to 52 weeks;

The Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 requires the written statement referred to above to be given to all workers (rather than just employees) and reduces the requirements for employee requests to set up information and consultation arrangements; and

The Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019 removes the "Swedish derogation" - a fairly controversial provision of the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 which, in certain circumstances, currently allows agency workers to be engaged on cheaper rates than permanent employees. Agencies are obliged to inform affected workers of this change by no later than 30 April 2020.

The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2019 require temporary work agencies to provide a Key Information Document to agency workers which includes details of rates of pay, who will pay them, how they will be paid and the type of contract they are being engaged on.

National Living Wage/National Minimum Wage

With effect from April 2020:-

  • NLW will increase from £8.21 per hour to £8.72 per hour (for those aged 25 and over)
  • NMW 21 to 24 year old rate will increase from £7.70 per hour to £8.20 per hour
  • NMW 18 to 20 year old rate will increase from £6.15 per hour to £6.45 per hour
  • NMW 16 to 17 year old rate will increase from £4.35 per hour to £4.55 per hour
  • NMW apprentice rate for those aged under 19 or in their first year of an apprenticeship will increase from £3.90 per hour to £4.15 per hour

Statutory Benefits 

As of April statutory maternity pay and allowance, and statutory paternity, adoption and shared parental pay is expected to increase from the current £148.68 per week to £151.20. Statutory sick pay is also expected to increase from £94.25 to £95.85 per week.  The increase usually occurs on the first Sunday of April.

Tribunal Compensation

The annual Employment Tribunal award limit changes will take effect on 6 April 2020.  The limit on compensatory award for unfair dismissal will rise from £86,444 to £88,519.

The cap on the compensatory award is the lower of the maximum or 52 weeks' pay (based on the Claimant's gross salary prior to dismissal including employer pension contribution but excluding benefits in kind and discretionary bonus).  As always there are a limited number of exceptions where the cap does not apply. These are dismissals for whistleblowing or for raising certain health and safety issues. In addition, there is no limit to the award that can be made where a dismissal is related to unlawful discrimination.

The limit on a week's pay (used for calculating statutory redundancy payments and the basic award for unfair dismissal) will increase from £525 to £538 meaning the maximum basic award increases to £16,140.

Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018

The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Act 2018 entitles employees who find themselves in the tragic situation of having lost a child under the age of 18 to have 2 weeks' bereavement leave and, for those with the necessary qualifying service, paid leave.  The Parental Bereavement Leave Regulations 2020 and the Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (General) Regulations 2020 will bring this right into force on 6 April 2020. 

Taxation of Termination Payments

The National Insurance Contributions (Termination Awards and Sporting Testimonials) Act 2019 will require all termination payments above the £30,000 threshold to be subject to employer national insurance contributions.  There are no plans to change the unlimited employee NIC exemption on non-contractual termination payments and, other than for PILONs, the £30,000 exemption for income tax on non-contractual termination payments also remains.

Injury to feelings awards

An award for injury to feelings is made to compensate for injury to feelings caused by discrimination. The award is separate from an award to compensate for financial loss and can be made even where no financial loss has been suffered.  To assist Employment Tribunals, the Court of Appeal previously set out guidance for quantifying awards for injury to feelings, known as the Vento bands.  The new Vento bands are as follows for any cases presented on or after 6 April 2020:-

Lower band (less serious)                      £900 - £9,000

Middle band                                              £9,000 - £27,000

Upper band (more serious cases)         £27,000 - £45,000

Awards over £45,000 will be made only in exceptional cases.

Reform of IR35 in the Private Sector

The anticipated changes to the rules on off-payroll working in the private sector were due to come into effect from 6 April 2020.  However the impact of the coronavirus outbreak lead to the implementation of these changes being delayed to April 2021.  

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

This year's gender pay gap reporting should have concluded in April however the coronavirus outbreak resulted in reporting being suspended.  Employers may still report if they wish to do so.  Only around 25% of those required to report had done so when the suspension was announced.  

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