0370 1500 100

News in Brief – April 2019

Worried about the impact of Brexit on your workforce? New Acas guidance may help

Acas has published new guidance to assist employers and employees in understanding the impact Brexit may have in their workplace.

It explains the potential changes to employment law stemming from the UK leaving the EU, and provides links to the government technical guidance. The guidance also explains the impact of Brexit on EU citizens working in the UK, provides links to government materials on their rights and goes on to offer advice to employers when talking to their employees about how they may be impacted by the UK's exit.

Home Office publishes “right to work checks” that will apply post-Brexit

Many employers have contacted us to ask if they need to change the way they carry out “right to work” checks for EU candidates and staff, particularly if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

The Home Office has now published advice which confirms you won't have to make any changes to the way in which you conduct right to work checks, provided these comply with the exiting codes of practice on the prevention of illegal working (last updated on Monday 28 January 2019). 

Specifically, you don't need to differentiate between EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members, who were or are resident in the UK before or after the UK leaves the EU.

Government launches “It comes with the job” ad campaign to raise awareness of holiday rights

The government has launched a new campaign to help workers understand their rights to receive paid holiday.

It’s estimated that around 1.8 million people in the UK do not receive the paid holiday they are entitled to.

The “It comes with the job” advertising campaign provides accessible information in the form of video on-demand, Spotify advertising, and digital website and social media advertising. There will also be adverts in train stations and on streets.

Seasonal workers pilot opens for fruit and vegetable farmers

The seasonal workers pilot has now opened. 

Fruit and vegetable farmers are able to employ up to 2,500 non-EU migrant workers for seasonal work for up to six months. The first workers will arrive on UK farms this spring, subject to recruitment and visa application processes. The pilot will run until the end of December 2020. 

The pilot is intended to test the effectiveness of the immigration system at alleviating seasonal labour shortages during peak production periods, whilst maintaining immigration control and ensuring minimal impact on local communities and public services.

Bosses who abuse workers are escaping prosecution

The Director of Labour Market Enforcement, Sir David Metcalf, has warned that employers who commit serious labour abuses are often escaping prosecution. 

His Annual Report for 2017/18 reveals that only seven prosecutions were brought. The majority were gangmaster offences, one was for withholding wages, and the other was brought by HMRC for hampering investigations. Only 14 prosecutions for minimum wage offences have been brought in the 20 years since the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 was enacted.

These figures compare unfavourably with convictions for health and safety breaches, which amount to over 500 each year. 

Sir Metcalf was appointed in 2017 and in May last year published 37 recommendations to tackle the exploitation of low paid workers. He believes that his strategy marks the very beginning of his work on labour market enforcement and expects this to improve.

New Tier 1 visa routes due open

On Thursday 7 March, the Home Office announced that it had brought forward plans to introduce two new visa routes for investors to enter the UK in a bid to attract more international talent.

The two new routes – the Start-up visa route and Innovator visa route –  were expected to open on Friday 29 March 2019 – the date the UK originally expected to the leave the EU.

Government publishes the list of professions exempted from proposed £30,000 salary threshold for Tier 2 visas 

The government has announced that the number of professions to be exempt from the proposed £30,000 minimum salary for workers requiring a Tier 2 visa will be extended. It revealed that nurses, paramedics, medical radiographers and secondary school teachers of certain subjects from non-EEA countries will only be required to meet a salary threshold of £20,800.

Just 5% of employers have analysed their ethnicity pay gaps

A new report from PwC has revealed that 95% of companies have not assessed their ethnicity pay gap. According to the figures, 75% of employers cannot properly analyse their gap because they don’t have the necessary data. The report comes after a government consultation on mandatory ethnicity pay reporting closed on Friday 11 January 2019.

Ethnicity is largely seen as more indicative of pay than gender. For example, a 2018 Resolution Foundation Report found that black male graduates were earning £7,000 less on average than their white counterparts, with Pakistani and Bangladeshi men also earning significantly less than their white peers.

New guidance published to help employers close their gender pay gaps

The Government Equalities Office has published new guidance for employers designed to promote women's progression in the workplace and reduce the gender pay gap. It’s entitled “What works to reduce the gender pay gap” and offers five broad suggestions for tackling these issues.

New Acas guidance on neurodiversity in the workplace

Acas has published new guidance on handling neurodiversity in the workplace. Neurodiversity, which refers to the different ways the brain can use and interpret information, affects one in seven people in UK through forms such as attention deficit disorder, autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia.

The guidance asks employers to take steps to support neurodiversity in their workplace and explains that some conditions may amount to a disability under the Equality Act 2010 and therefore trigger the need to make reasonable adjustments.

Increases to national minimum wage 

The National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage increased on Monday 1 April.

The National Living Wage increased from £7.83 to £8.21

The National Minimum Wage increased as follows:

  • Workers aged 21 to 24 – from £7.38 to £7.70
  • Workers aged 18 to 20 – from £5.90 to £6.15
  • Workers aged over compulsory school age under 18 - from £4.20 to £4.35
  • Apprentices – from £3.70 to £3.90.

Changes to limits on tribunal awards and a week’s pay

Tribunal compensation limits increased on Saturday 6 April 2019. The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal rose from £83,682 to £86,444. The maximum amount of a week's pay, used to calculate statutory redundancy payments and various awards including the basic and additional awards for unfair dismissal rose from £508 to £525.

Statutory maternity, paternity, shared parental pay and adoption pay increases

On Sunday 7 April, the statutory rates for maternity, paternity, shared parental pay, adoption and sick pay increased from £145.18 to £148.68 or 90% of average earnings if lower.

On Saturday 6 April, statutory sick pay increased from £92.05 to £94.25.

Key Contact

Jo Moseley