May 2019: Changes to Employment Law

2019 brings with it a raft of changes to UK employment law. Brexit is set to be the dominating issue for many in HR this year, but while the outcomes there are far from clear, other laws are coming into force with certainty.

From pay gap reporting to parental bereavement leave, HR professionals should pull out their notepads and make note of some of the key changes below.

Minimum Wage Increases

As expected, minimum wage will continue to rise in 2019. Make sure you are aware of all the rate changes:
– The national minimum wage will be £8.21.
– The 21-24 rate will increase to £7.70.
– The 18-20 rate will rise to £6.15.
– The rate for under 18 workers of school-leaving age will be £4.35.
– Apprentice wages will be £3.90 and the daily accommodation offset will rise to £7.55.

Campaigners for a “living wage” continue to call for £9 an hour, and £10.55 in London.

Does your company have a living wage policy? It could be the time to introduce one as the pressure increases on companies to adhere to a living wage policy.

Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay

The government is planning to introduce a period of paid leave in the case of parental bereavements. Expected to come into law in 2020, the new proposal states that employees have the right to take two weeks of paid leave – either as two weeks together or separate one-week periods – up to 56 weeks after their child’s death.

Now is a good time for HR to update or introduce a bereavement policy at your company, before the law comes into place next year.

Gender Pay Gap Reports

For the second year in a row, companies with 250 employees or more are obliged to submit a gender pay gap report. The gap must be reported in the 12 months to date, in terms of percentages. Reports must be accompanied with a written statement confirming their accuracy. It is worth bearing in mind that the reports will also likely be compared to the previous year’s results and although there is no obligation to explain any gaps in earnings, doing so could be a wise move to prevent negative backlash.

Executive Pay Reports

For the first time in the UK, companies with over 250 employees will also have to begin disclosing pay ratios between executives and employees. The first report is due in 2020 and so data must be collected beginning this year.

Be sure to have the data collected ahead of time for your company, dating from January 1st.

Brexit

As you should have expected, Brexit will play a huge role in the future changes of UK employment law.

Once Britain has actually exited the European Union, European nationals will either have a “settled status” giving them continued right to work without hindrance in the UK or will be treated as foreign nationals who may require a visa. While it isn’t currently clear just how these rules will be implemented, companies should accordingly adjust their recruitment policies so that EU workers are treated legally in the same manner non-EU persons would be.

Companies with EU workers should also encourage these workers to apply for settled status in good time.

Modern Slavery Statement

Companies with a turnover of £36M or more per year are being increasingly pressured to publish modern slavery and human trafficking statements by the government. The statement be published within 6 months of the end of the fiscal year – by September 31st, 2019.

HR employees should begin working with relevant departments to produce a statement that explores their company’s role in these fields.

Other Changes of Note

Statutory family rates – which apply to maternity and paternity leave, maternity allowance, shared parental pay and adoption pay – will increase to £148.68 per week.

Statutory sick pay rates will increase to £94.25.

The maximum amount of compensation for unfair dismissal is also rising to £86,444, valid for claims where dismissal took place on or after April 6th, 2019.

Companies will also have to prepare for an increase in pension contributions, as the minimum rate for the auto-enrolment scheme increases from 2% to 3%. New proposals mean that payslips must now reflect where the number of hours worked affects the pay-rate, and these rates must show in a clearly itemised manner.

Written by: Paul Withers

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