Employment Law Update 2020 – Part One

February 13, 2020

There are some big changes in employment law coming into effect this April which all employers and HR managers need to be aware of. Some of these may require some advance preparation – for example to update your contracts of employment – so it’s worth getting up to speed now, rather than leaving it all to the last minute!

Changes to Written Statement or Contract of Employment.

When does it happen?

From 6th April 2020 all employees and workers are entitled to a written statement of terms and conditions or a contract of employment (from here, I’ll just use ‘statement’ to refer to both) on or before the first day of work; there will no longer be an eight week ‘grace period’. This will apply even to short-term workers who were previously exempt.

What are the changes?

There is additional information which must be included in the statement:

  • The hours and days of the week the worker /employee is required to work, whether they may be varied and, if so, how.
  • Details of any paid leave other than holiday and sick leave.
  • Any other benefits, such as health insurance, which are not included elsewhere, even if they are not contractual. Make sure it’s clear whether or not they are contractual.
  • Details of any probationary period, including any special conditions and its expected duration.
  • Details of any training which is a requirement of the job, and details of any other compulsory training that the employer won’t pay for.

Where do the details need to be?

It is acceptable to refer employees to another ‘readily accessible document’ for certain details, for example terms and conditions relating to ‘other paid leave’, such as maternity or paternity leave. For most employers these will be contained in the Employee Handbook and you should just signpost this in the statement.

Who does it apply to?

You don’t need to issue new contracts to all your existing employees, but you must do so if:

  1. They request an updated contract; or
  2. There is a change to any of the terms that are required in a statement/ contract under Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act.

The right only applies to new, not existing, workers, unless they are re-engaged by you after 6th April 2020.

What should you do?

Since you are likely to have to make some changes to you contract templates, it’s a good opportunity to do a thorough review and make sure they are up to date throughout, as well as containing important clauses to protect you as an employer.

IR35 Reforms

The IR35 tax rules for off-payroll contractors working through personal service companies come into force for medium and large private sector businesses from 6th April. The current Government review of the reforms doesn’t appear to include a delay in introducing them, though they have now said they will only apply to services provided from 6th April, rather than payments made from that date. If this might affect you, it’s important that you seek advice if necessary and get prepared now.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

Not a change, but a reminder that private sector companies employing 250 or more people must submit their 2019 gender pay gap reports before April 4th 2020 (30th March for public sector).

What should you do now?

Watch out for Part two of this update which will include a round-up of other changes from April 2020. Meanwhile, take a look at your contracts and make sure they’re up to date ahead of the changes in April.

Feeling confused? Contact us for a free, no-obligation review of you contracts of employment and employee handbook.

Please note – the information contained in this article is for general guidance only, and is not a substitute for specific legal advice in any given situation.