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Employment law changes in force from 6 April 2020

Coronavirus had dominated the headlines for the last few weeks and, unfortunately, looks set to stay there for the foreseeable future. It's easy to forget that there have been some significant changes that came into force at the beginning of April that you need to be aware of. 

New legal rights for workers

Many businesses opt to engage temporary staff on zero hours or casual contracts to provide them with flexibility. Previously, you only had to provide employees (rather than the wider group of workers) with contractual information about their employment and you had two months to do this from their start date.

However, since Monday 6 April 2020 you must now give all workers and employees starting work from that date a written statement which sets out information about the work they are employed to do for you and benefits they will receive on their first day of work (or earlier). There are no exceptions so, even if you only expect them to work for you for a short time, you still have to give them a statement.

Information included within section one  statements/ contracts of employment

From Monday 6 April 2020, you may also have to update any standard statements, contracts or precedents you use because you have to give information previously not required including: more detail about how their pay is calculated if this varies; any probationary period they have to pass; details of paid leave – including family related leave, details of all benefits provided by the employer and details of all training the worker has to attend (such as induction training) and who pays for this.

We have a summarised these changes in an easy to read document. Please contact Joanna.cooney@irwinmitchell if you'd like a copy.

You will also need to correctly determine the employment status of your staff and make sure that only those who are employees receive a contract of employment rather than a simple statement or letter of engagement.

If you don’t provide a written statement which sets out all of the required information, workers and employees can receive up to four weeks’ pay (which is capped) in compensation from an Employment Tribunal.

Rights of existing employees to receive updated contracts 

You don’t have to make any immediate changes to the contracts of your existing staff unless an employee asks for an updated statement (in which case you have one month to respond) or you decide to make changes to their existing terms and conditions.

Changes to holiday pay

Previously, if your worker’s pay varies because they don’t have normal working hours, or their days of work vary, you had to calculate their holiday pay by going back 12 weeks to work out their average weekly rate of pay. This has to include regularly worked overtime, allowances that are linked to work (rather than to cover expenses) and some commission schemes.

From Monday 6 April 2020, the calculation period has been extended to 52 weeks. This change is designed to even out the seasonal variation in pay for many casual workers. If your worker hasn’t worked for you for 52 weeks, you will have to include as many whole weeks of pay information as you have available.

Agency staff

If you use temporary agency staff, you might notice that the rates increase. This is because with effect from Monday 6 April 2020, employment businesses won’t be able to employ individuals on ‘Swedish derogation’ contracts of employment. This means that agency staff may be entitled to equal pay with employees you directly employ after 12 weeks in the same role.

Bereavement leave

From Monday 6 April 2020 parents (and some other qualifying adults) are able to take two weeks leave (and in some cases pay) to help them cope with the death of a stillborn child or a child under the age of 18 years old. More detail is available here.

Increases to NMW

With effect from Monday 6 April 2020 the National Minimum Wage rates increased. The top rate for those aged 25 and over will increase to £8.72 per hour. Details of the other rate increases are available here.

Increase in statutory payments

From April 2020, SSP increased to £95.85 per week and from 5 April 2020 the rates for maternity allowance and statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave increased to £151.20 per week.

Our fixed price employment law service

If you are interested in finding out about how we can support you with our fixed-fee annual retainer, or flexible discounted bank of hours service, please contact Gareth Finney: or 0778 317 0084.