Employment law changes in April 2020

As an employer it’s important to know of any forthcoming employment law changes. Being aware of the changes ensures you can prepare for them and protect your business from any legal claims. Here’s a rundown of the changes taking effect from April 2020.

Introducing parental bereavement leave

An Act passed in 2018 has resulted in the introduction of parental bereavement leave to provide support for bereaved parents. The leave will be available to parents who lose a child under 18, or suffer a still-birth in the later stages of pregnancy.

What is it?

Employees will be entitled to 2 weeks leave, and employees with 26-weeks continuous service will also be entitled to pay at the statutory rate. This leave is separate from the statutory right to unpaid time-off in an emergency, and compassionate leave which is discretionary.

Action to take

Employers should take the following steps, prior to April 2020:

  • review your current leave policies and decide if you will follow or exceed the minimum requirements of this legislation;
  • review and update policies and handbook to include this entitlement, as well as any other policies which may benefit from this information (for example, any family friendly policies);
  • consider if you need to review and update other content in your handbook, and
  • review and update your contracts of employment, so they are fit for purpose.

More information

Changes to written statements of particulars of employment

The current law states that written statements must be issued by employers to their employees within 2 months of their start date.  The new law will require employers to give all workers (not just employees) a written statement on or before their start date. In addition the written statements must include:

  • the hours and days of the week the worker /employee is required to work, if they are varied and how;
  • any details of a probationary period;
  • their entitlements to paid leave;
  • any details of training provided by the employer and
  • other benefits not covered elsewhere in the written statement.
Action to take

Employers should take the following steps, prior to April 2020:

  • be aware of exactly what needs to be included in the written statement;
  • know about any other information which needs to be provided to employees in writing;
  • ensure you have a template statement / contract of employment which is ready to use, should you need to make a new hire and
  • review your current written statement / contract of employment to ensure it complies with the new requirements.

More information

Increase in the holiday pay reference period from 12 weeks to 52 weeks

The reference period for calculating holiday pay for workers with irregular hours will change. Employers will need to look back over the past 52 weeks for the purposes of calculating holiday pay.

IR35 changes for the private and public sector

The public sector IR35 reforms will be extended to cover medium and large private-sector employers. This means that responsibility for determining if IR35 applies to independent contractors will shift to the organisation, not the individual. Employers should review whether they fall in to the category ‘medium’ or ‘large’ employer and then review their contractors and pay arrangements to determine how the new rules will affect them.

More information

If you’re concerned about what these employment law changes mean for your business and need help in preparing for them, please get in touch with Helpful HR.

 

 

Managing Sickness Absence

Current statistics tell us that on average each year businesses lose a working week per employee to sickness absence. If your company has 10 employees, you could be losing 10 working weeks each year. A lot of business owners don’t measure the real cost of absence, but it’s definitely something they worry about.

Whilst we know everyone gets sick from time to time, effective absence management and a clear policy ensures you stay on the front foot. It will prevent a sickness absence issue from becoming a problem, financially or in terms of productivity and quality.

Top-tips for your sickness absence policy:
  • Make sure employees know when and who to call when they are unable to attend work due to sickness. Insist on a telephone call where possible.
  • Include the requirement to provide a ‘Fit Note’ covering continuous periods of absence longer than a week
  • Have a policy of carrying out return to work interviews with employees consistently for any sickness absence
  • Introduce a Sickness Absence Review process with clear trigger points, to flag high levels of absence and discuss constructively with employees
  • Ensure the Sickness Absence Review process covers short and long-term absence
  • Manage expectations around sick pay by stating the policy clearly. Ie if you have company sick pay or Statutory Sick Pay, and when they apply
  • State that the company can require employees to attend a medical examination with a doctor should it deem necessary
  • Include information and links about any support available through company benefits, or public bodies/charities
  • Ensure the policy covers support the company provides on mental health issues

By following these top tips for putting together your policy, you can address any sickness absence issues arising before they reach unacceptable levels.

If you’re worried about sickness absence in your business and would like help to introduce a policy so you can manage sickness absence, get in touch.

 

Love is in the Air

Valentine’s Day is less than a month away, so our thoughts are turning to ‘romance at work’ and the questions that subject raises. During a working week we spend up to half of our waking time with our work colleagues, so it’s not surprising that close friendships and romantic relationships form.

We all know people in long-term relationships with partners they met at work. Whilst personal relationships can cause issues, it’s probably unrealistic to ban personal relationships at work. If you introduce a ban, it would inevitably force budding romances and friendships to become covert. This would lead to an environment of mistrust, deception and fear. However it would be unwise to stay silent on how you deal with relationships as an employer. So, what is the best way to approach them?

Developing a policy

Here are 6 top tips for a developing a policy:

  • Be Realistic. Focus on transparency and create a working environment where your employees can be open with you.
  • Be Specific. Define the point employees need to declare a relationship beyond that of a good working relationship – be it a close friendship or a romantic relationship.
  • Be Cautious. Include clients, suppliers and customers in the policy.
  • Be Fair. Ensure you are clear about the possible outcomes of declaring a relationship. For example in a management relationship, allow for a change to reporting lines.
  • Be Professional. Clearly communicate expectations about professional conduct, i.e. public displays of affection and favouritism.
  • Be Prepared. Accept that sometimes relationships don’t work out, and this too will need to be managed appropriately.

Following these top tips will ensure your policy is realistic and practical, and will ensure your business isn’t compromised by relationships at work.

So, while things can go wrong and issues may arise, having a clear policy will make it easier to take a fair and consistent approach, with the least disruption to your business.

If you would like help developing a policy about managing personal relationships at work, please get in touch.