The hot 3 topics in employment law for April 2019!

“Like sand through the hourglass…” as the old TV soap used to say “so are the days of our lives”. And so is the latest round of employment legislation.

For those wondering why April and October are the key dates in the employment law year, it’s because up to quite recently, law was implemented across the year. This caused a fair amount of challenge for businesses because it was difficult to keep track of when new laws came into force (and consequently, the dates by which changes needed to be done). By concentrating changes to employment laws on two specific times of the year, organisations can better plan and resource any updates that they may need to make for their business.

For this April, there are 3 changes.

1. Flexible working introduced in the armed forces

Regulations will amend the terms of service of enlisted personnel who are not commission officers to allow for two types of flexible working. Part-time working allows personnel to agree days on which they are not required to be available for active service. “Service on a restricted separation basis” enables restrictions to be placed on the number of days on which personnel can be required to perform duties away from a specified place. The two types of flexible working are known collectively as “flexible service.”

2. Government’s proposed legislation following the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices.

The proposed new legislation will:

  • close a loophole which currently allows agency workers to be employed on cheaper rates than permanent counterparts (also known as the ‘Swedish Derogation’)

  • extend the right to a day one written statement of rights to workers by going further, and including details on rights such as eligibility for sick leave and pay, as well as other types of paid leave, such as maternity and paternity leave

  • quadruple the maximum employment tribunal fines for employers who are demonstrated to have shown malice, spite or gross oversight from £5,000 to £20,000

  • extend the holiday pay reference period from 12 to 52 weeks, ensuring those in seasonal or atypical roles get the paid time off to they are entitled

  • lower the threshold required for a request to set up Information and Consultation arrangements from 10% to 2%.

  • The government is also committed to legislate to improve the clarity of the employment status tests to reflect the reality of the modern working relationships.

3. Change to pay slip information (effective 6 April 2019).

Employers must now include the total number of hours worked where the pay varies according to the hours worked (for example under variable hours or zero-hour contracts). In addition, payslips must be given to ‘workers’ and not just employees.

Worker? Employee? What’s the difference? Well, the differences may seem small, but they are important for your business. An individual’s employment rights (and therefore your liability) will depend upon whether they are an employee or worker.

An employee will work to the terms within a contract of employment and will carry out the work personally. A contract exists when terms such as pay, annual leave and working hours are agreed. For the avoidance of doubt, it’s always best to record the main terms and conditions of employment in writing. In general employees are entitled to a wide range of employment rights, including all those to which a worker is entitled.

A worker will also work to the terms within a contract of employment and generally have to carry out the work personally. Workers are entitled to some employment rights including the National Minimum Wage, holiday pay, protection against unlawful discrimination and the right not to be treated less favourably if they work part-time.

However – there are many different types of worker, for example:

  • Agency/Umbrella company workers/

  • Apprentices

  • Casual workers (also known as ‘zero hours’. Bear in mind ‘zero hours’ is not a legal term)

  • Peripatetic workers – workers with no fixed work base

  • Piece work

  • Seasonal workers

  • Self-employed/Freelance workers

  • Volunteers, work experience and internships

And each of these types of worker have particular requirements for their type of contract.

If any of this causes confusion, confoundment or conundrum for you, just remember that you’re not alone!

BHR (UK) LTD provides HR consultancy support services to small businesses in Epping Forest, Harlow, Essex and Hertfordshire regions. If you are a small business in need of HR consultancy services and HR advice on any of the above subjects don’t delay and book in for your free 30 minute consultation call today!

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