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Employment Law Update 2020

  16th March 2020       Claire Bond
 Client, Employment Law, Human Resources

Earlier this month, we had a full house again for our Annual Employment Law Update with Frettens. More than 100 HR professionals joined us for the event, during which Employment Lawyer, Paul Burton, shared the latest pay rates, legislation updates and employer advice for 2020, including how to deal with Corona virus. Here, we share some of the highlights.

Statutory Rates and National Minimum Wage

The following revised rates will apply from Sunday 5th April 2020:

  • Maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave rates increase from £148.68 per week to £151.20
  • Statutory sick pay increases from £94.25 per week to £95.85
  • Lower earnings limit up from £118 per week to £120

From 1st April 2020, minimum hourly rates of pay will also rise – many by over 6%:

  • The National Living Wage, applicable to workers aged 25 and over, will increase from £8.21 per hour to £8.72
  • The National Minimum Wage will also increase as follows:
    • For workers aged 21-24 -£8.20 per hour (previously £7.70)
    • For workers aged 18-20 – £6.45 per hour (previously £6.15)
    • For young workers aged 16-17 – £4.55 per hour (previously £4.35)
    • For apprentices – £4.15 per hour (previously £3.90)

More information can be found on the Government website: https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates

Parental Bereavement Leave

This is the first new piece of legislation in five years and concerns the bereavement leave and pay for parents suffering the loss of a child. While many employers already operate generous and understanding compassionate leave policies that include such unfortunate circumstances, this legislation makes it a legal requirement that all employers must comply with from 6th April 2020.

The headlines:

  • Statutory right to 1-2 weeks’ leave in the event of the death of a child under 18 or stillbirth/miscarriage after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Available to all employees (not agency workers or contractors) who are biological parents, intended parents (surrogacy), adoptive parents, parents “in fact” and spouse or partner regardless of length of service.
  • Weeks can be taken consecutively or separately provided it is within 56 weeks of the death.

The legislation does not currently provide for siblings (unless the parent is absent from the household) or agency workers/contractors.

More information can be found here – http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2020/9780111192245/contents

Immigration changes

There has been a big announcement on immigration proposals in the last couple of weeks which are likely to be enforced by the end of the transition period following our exit from the European Union in January. There will no be special immigration route for low-skilled workers and skilled workers will be assessed on a points-based system, while the term ‘skilled worker’ will be redefined.

What is a ‘skilled worker’?

  • Currently ‘skilled’ workers are degree graduates, but proposals recommend expanding this to include those educated to an A-Level equivalent.
  • Some roles previously included will be removed, such as waiting tables and some agricultural work.
  • Seasonal visa scheme being expanded to recognise reliance on low-skilled temporary workers.

The care and hospitality sectors are already reportedly making changes to encourage more British workers into roles as 10-20% of their workforce currently comes from overseas.

How will the points system work?

A total of 70 points will be required to work in Britain. These will be made up of criteria including: a secure job offer from a verified UK business; a job that is at the right skill level and/or in a sector where these is a skills shortage; minimum language skills enabling them to communicate effectively; a minimum salary of £25,600 which may be lowered if they fit other criteria; having a PhD.

This is yet to be formalised, but is unlikely to change much given the Conservative majority.

Mental health in the workplace

A hot topic and one that was requested to be covered, Paul highlighted the current employer responsibilities when it comes to mental health. As well as covering risk assessments and referencing Section 6 of the Equality Act he provided advice on preventing mental health issues in the workplace, making reasonable adjustments and how to lawfully handle dismissals.

Interestingly, he questioned the attendees on how many of them checked their work emails on their phone outside of working hours, and almost everyone put their hands up. He proceeded to explain how work-related stress is a major cause of poor mental health and could be one of the first steps to take to avoiding it. He also asked how many people in the room had Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) in the room, to which over 50% responded positively.

For employers wishing to train Mental Health First Aiders or MHFAs wanting to connect with each other, local provider, Protea Solutions, has places available on their March and April courses and networking events – https://www.proteasolutions.co.uk/training-and-courses/.

Corona virus advice

In a last minute addition to the agenda, Paul also shared Government guidance on how employers should be responding to the Corona virus outbreak. He discussed the difference between when an employee chooses to self-isolate versus when an employer enforces sick leave as a precaution and the impact on pay. He also provided scenarios in which employees could be lawfully disciplined for refusing to come into work or refusing to self-isolate. Most importantly, he advised businesses to stay up to date with current guidance. A full article on this can be found on the Frettens website – https://www.frettens.co.uk/site/library/frettensnews/corona-virus-advice-for-employers-and-businesses

A more recent updated version can be found here – https://www.frettens.co.uk/site/library/frettensnews/coronavirus-employment-law-update-solicitor-bournemouth-ringwood

 

Claire Bond

Director

Claire has almost 25 years Recruitment experience. A specialist in the regional recruitment marketplace, Claire has extensive local knowledge and holds a reputation for quality, integrity, honesty and excellent matching. Heading up the HR and Office & Commercial Divisions of Bond Williams. Claire is responsible for the overall growth and …


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