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Employment changes 2019: Guide for in-house lawyers

Despite Brexit dominating the legislative agenda, there are a number of important changes taking place this year that in-house lawyers should be aware of.

We set out those that have a confirmed start date and look at what is happening with others that have been on the back burner for a while.

Confirmed changes taking place in 2019

28 January - Immigration – illegal working

New changes will allow organisations to rely on online checks to establish a statutory excuse against liability for a civil penalty (in the event that they are found to be employing illegal workers), permitting short birth or adoption certificates to be relied upon when evidencing an individual’s right to work and bringing into force a revised Code of Practice.

29 March - Brexit

Proposed date the UK exits the EU.

1 April - Increases to national living and minimum wage

The National Living Wage will increase from £7.83 to £8.21

NMW will increase 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

1 April - Changes to auto enrolment rates

The minimum contribution rates will increase to 3% for employers and 5% for employees.

4 April - Gender pay gap reports due

Date by which all applicable businesses must publish their gender pay gap data for the snapshot date of 5 April 2018.  

The report must be published on the government website and a searchable UK website that is accessible to employees and the public.

6 April - itemised pay slips

Workers must receive payslips.

The payslips of workers and employees paid by the hour must clearly set out the number of hours they have been paid for.

6/7 April* - Increases to the statutory rates for maternity, paternity, shared parental pay, adoption and sick pay 

Statutory rates for everything other than sick pay will increase from £145.18 to £148.68 or 90% of average earnings if lower.

Statutory sick pay will increase from £92.05 to £94.25.

*These changes usually come into effect on first Sunday of April, but the actual date has not yet been announced.

6 April - Increases in statutory payments and tribunal awards

The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissals taking effect from 6 April 2019 will increase from its current rate of £83,682 but the amount of increase has not yet been announced.

A week’s pay (used to calculate statutory redundancy payments and the basic award in unfair dismissal claims) will also increase from its current rate of £508 (gross) but the amount of increase has not been announced yet.

6 April - Increase in penalties for aggravated breach of a worker's employment rights

Tribunals have the power to impose a financial penalty against employers that are in breach of employment rights where that breach has one or more aggravating factors.

The maximum compensation will increase from £5,000 to £20,000.

6 April - Tax changes

The personal allowance will increase to £12,500 and the higher rate tax threshold to £50,000.

Class 2 NICs will be abolished.

Other changes in the pipeline that may take place in 2019

No date - Changes to apprenticeships

When section 1 and Schedule 1 of Technical and Further Education Act 2017 (TAFEA 2017) are brought into force they will extend the Institute for Apprenticeships’ remit to cover classroom-based technical education in addition to apprenticeships. They also includes measures which support the Institute’s establishment and remit regarding apprenticeships.

No date - Requirement to pay individuals on work experience

This is a private member’s bill seeking protection for individuals undertaking work experience.  Workers undertaking work experience for over four weeks must be paid the appropriate national minimum wage.

No date - Rights of workers to opt out of working on Sundays

Rights of shop workers to opt out of working on Sunday will be extended to any additional hours they can be asked to work in excess of their normal hours and the length of notice they must give to opt out is reduced.


Winter 2019

Key Contact

Jo Moseley