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Changes in Employment Law – what you need to know

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Employment law is constantly changing and 2020 is shaping up to deliver more changes than previous years. Whether you’re an employer or a worker, it’s important to keep up to date with what’s happening in the employment world as it might affect your pay packet.


Coronavirus and Sick Pay

One of the most recent announcements has been prompted by the concern over Coronavirus. Usually, statutory sick pay doesn’t kick in until the worker has been off work for four days. New legislation will allow workers who are off work because they are self-isolating or in quarantine to claim sick pay from their employer from the first day of absence. It is hoped that this will encourage workers not to risk coming into work when they are ill because of financial concerns.


Holiday Pay Calculations

2020 also sees a change in the way in which employers calculate holiday pay for workers. Currently, staff who work a different number of hours every week have their holiday pay calculated based on what they earned over the previous 12 weeks. The new legislation will calculate holiday pay based on average earnings over the last 52 weeks instead. This is a huge benefit to workers who might work many more hours at certain periods of the year.


DBS Checks

The government is under pressure to look at changing DBS rules after a ruling by the Supreme Court about youth cautions or reprimands. Cautions, which aren’t the same as a criminal conviction, remain on someone’s police record for life. Many ex-offenders’ charities believe that it is unfair to ask people to disclose such minor matters which happened when they were teenagers. It seems likely that the government will relax rules about these very old cautions and allow them to be disregarded.


Zero-hour Contracts

Zero-hour contracts are very controversial, and although they suit some workers the lack of guarantees can throw others into financial difficulties. There is mounting pressure on the government to change legislation to allow people employed on a zero-hour contract initially to request a switch to a fixed pattern of guaranteed hours after 26 weeks.


National Minimum and Living Wage

Both the national living wage and minimum wage raise annually in line with inflation. Details of all rates are available on the government website. Minimum rates for workers aged over 25 rise from £8.21 to £8.72 per hour in April. Employers are not allowed to pay less than the right minimum wage for the age group. If your 2020 birthday means you move from one band to the next, the new wage kicks in on your birthday.


Bereavement Leave

As of the beginning of April 2020 there is new legislation coming into effect which will support parents who have lost a child under the age of 18. Parents will be able to take two weeks off work and be paid at a statutory minimum rate while they’re off. This is separate provision to the current rules around parental leave.