A brief roundup of employment law changes that you need to be aware of
Keeping you up to date
The right to a written statement of terms and conditions of employment
Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 affords all employees the right to a written statement of terms and conditions of employment. From 6 April these rights have been enhanced and extended; furthermore, most of the information needs to be provided in a single ‘principle statement’ of terms and conditions of employment and, save for a few specific items, cannot be provided in instalments.
Please note that these changes only apply to written statements or contracts for individuals who start work for you on or after 6 April 2020. However, where an existing employee requests an updated written statement or contract, or where their role with you changes sufficiently so that you would ordinarily issue a new written statement or contract, you must issue them with an updated version that contains all of the changes set out below within one month of receiving their request. In addition, if you make changes to the terms of an employee who started working for you before 6th April 2020 and you would have had to include those terms in their written statement or contract had they started working for you after 6th April, you will need to notify them of those changes in writing, even where the terms are not included in their original contract.
The key changes are set out below:
- Extension of right to written statement of terms and conditions of employment to all workers – previously this only applied to employees. From now all new workers will have the right to a written statement, including anyone on a zero hours contract.
- Day one right – previously employees were required to have at least one month’s continuous service before they qualified for the right. They now have the right to a written statement to be provided to them no later than when they start work. Employers will have up to 2 months to provide further information on a limited number of issues (see below for more details).
- Enhanced information on working hours and days – this should now include reference to the days of the week on which the individual is required to work and, if working hours may vary, how this will be done.
- Paid leave – previously employers were required to provide information relating to sick leave and pay but were able to do so in instalments. This information must now be given in one go (although employers may point to another reasonably accessible document to do so). The statement must also now include information relating to all other forms of paid leave, but again this can be contained in another document (a staff handbook for example).
- Terms relating to benefits – previously this was limited to sickness, holidays and pensions but from now the requirement covers all contractual benefits. Our view is that you are not required to include non-contractual benefits in the principle statement, however this may be a good place to highlight that other benefits are provided, which may be withdrawn or amended at any time. You could then point to a staff handbook or policy where the employee can find further information on non-contractual benefits.
- Information relating to probationary periods – whether one applies and if so, any conditions relating to it and how long it will last.
- Mandatory training – including any training for which the employer will not pay and which the employee will therefore be expected to bear the cost of.
There is a much shorter list of information which doesn’t need to be contained in the principle statement, but instead may be delivered in instalments. It’s important to remember however that employers are obliged to provide this information within two months of the individual’s start date, even if they have already left your employment. That information is:
- Information relating to pension schemes,
- Any collective agreements that impact the contract,
- Training that the employer will provide, and
- Information about disciplinary and grievance rules and procedures.
Abolition of the ‘Swedish derogation’
The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 (AWR) give agency workers the right, among other things, to be paid the same as comparable directly employed people once they have been working for the same organisation for 12 weeks. The ‘Swedish derogation’ allowed employment agencies to avoid implementing pay increases following 12 weeks, by paying the worker between assignments. The intention of the AWR was to improve the pay and conditions of agency workers, but the Good Work Plan, published by the government in 2018, highlighted that some unscrupulous employers were using this to exploit workers and deny them their rights. The Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019 came into force on 6th April 2020; employment agencies are no longer allowed to utilise the ‘Swedish derogation’ and instead all agency workers must be given the same pay and conditions as directly employed workers following the 12 week qualifying period.
Calculating holiday pay for workers with irregular hours
Employers of workers with irregular hours (for example casual or zero hours workers) will be used to calculating their holiday pay based on their average pay for the 12 weeks preceding their holiday. However, from 6th April 2020 employers must use the previous 52 weeks to calculate this average. As before, any week in which the worker received no pay at all should be discounted and you should count back a further week to make sure that the average is based on 52 weeks in which they received pay. If there aren’t 52 weeks in which the worker received pay (for example they have less than a year’s service) you should use every week in which they have received pay to calculate the average.
Introduction of Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay
Three years after the private members bill was first introduced to Parliament, this has now become law. Parents and carers of children who die on or after 6th April 2020, or those who suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy may be eligible for up to 2 weeks of paid leave. See our article for more information.