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A recruiter’s guide to 2019 UK employment law changes

Have you missed the 2019 changes to UK employment law?

To bring you up-to-date, we’ve teamed up with Peninsula, an award-winning HR consultancy and employment law experts.

They’ve given us the low-down on everything recruitment agencies need to know about this year’s amendments.

National Living Wage increase

In April, we saw increases to both the National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage.

The National Living Wage, which applies to workers over the age of 25, will rise from £7.83 to £8.21 per hour – nearly a 5% increase.

For those under 25, changes to the National Minimum Wage are as follows:

  • £7.38 to £7.70 for 21 to 24-year-olds.
  • £5.90 to £6.15 for 18 to 20-year-olds.
  • £4.20 to £4.35 for 16 and 17-year-olds.
  • £3.70 to £3.90 for apprentices.

Recruiters will need to ensure that they update their wages amongst employees and check that clients have done likewise.

Executive pay reporting

As of January, companies with more than 250 staff are required to publish any pay gap between their chief executive and the average employee.

It’s a ruling that aims to shed light on growing wage inequalities across the UK.

This follows in the wake of Fat Cat Friday, which revealed that bosses in some of the UK’s biggest companies earn more by January 4th than most UK workers make in a year.

Gender pay gap reporting & other initiatives

There won’t be any extensions to reporting across companies that have 50 or more staff members.

As with 2018, a business must report on workforce pay in order to show that it has an equal salary range across departments.  

Elsewhere, consultations are taking place for mandatory ethnicity pay reporting. This is to ensure no direct, or indirect, pay discrimination occurs.

There’s also a framework set to go ahead for voluntary reporting on mental health and disability amongst large businesses in the UK.

Payslips are updated

Recruiters, like everyone else, will need to update their payslips for their employees in accordance with the employment law changes.

There are two significant changes to the Employment Rights Act 1996:

  1. Payslips aren’t just for employees now, they must be handed over to workers as well.  A ‘worker’ is typically someone who is employed on a casual, freelance or zero-hours basis.
  2. Businesses will have to include the number of hours worked when pay has variations on the hours that have been worked.

Statutory family-related pay and statutory sick pay

The weekly rate for family-related pay (statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, and shared parental pay) has increased to £148.68.

Statutory sick pay also saw an increase, rising to £94.25.

Businesses should review their documents and policies that mention the refer to rates.

Status of EU nationals

EU workers in the UK can claim for settled status this year. Those who have not been working in the UK for at least give years can apply for ‘pre-settled status’.  

Recruiters and employers should check that candidates will have the right to work in the UK after the EU settlement scheme deadline in 2021.  

While this is the case now, it’s a good idea for all businesses and recruiters to continue to keep an eye on the Brexit negotiations.

Extended until October 2019, Brexit will have far-reaching implications for recruitment.

Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices

Legislation regarding the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices will likely come into effect this year.

It will provide the following updates:

  • Closing a loophole to stop agency workers being employed on cheaper rates than permanent colleagues.
  • Workers can expect a day one written statement of eligibility for sick leave and pay. This will also include details on paternity and maternity leave.
  • Employment tribunal fines for employers displaying malice, gross oversight, or spite are now quadrupled. Potentially, a business could face a fine of £20,000.
  • Holiday pay reference period is extended from 12 to 52 weeks.

The Taylor Review was submitted to the government in 2017 and looked into employee rights in today’s flexible working environment.

New confidentiality clauses

A consultation on confidentiality clauses was released by the government earlier this year and some changes to protect employees have been proposed.

Some of the proposals for this are:

  • Confidentiality agreements that don’t meet the government’s requirements should be void.
  • In settlement agreements, all clauses must highlight disclosures that it doesn’t ban.
  • Clauses that prevent disclosure to the local authorities should be banned.

Draft legislation regarding these can be expected later this year.

To end

April annually sees an influx of employment law amendments and it’s not always easy to keep up.

If you’re interested in a brief summary of key changes over the last three years, you can visit Acas’ employment law updates information page for a recap.

It stands as a useful reminder for how the business landscape is steadily evolving, shaping itself for the decades ahead.

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