Employment Law Update

employment law update 2021 changesAs Spring blooms and we head (fingers crossed) out of lockdown here’s a handy update with upcoming dates for changes and updates to key employment practices.

Changes to National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates

6 April 2021

The hourly rate for the minimum wage depends on the age of your worker and whether they are an apprentice.

They must be at least:

  • school leaving age to get the National Minimum Wage
  • aged 23 to get the National Living Wage – the minimum wage will still apply for workers aged 22 and under

The changes that come into effect from 6 April 2021 are:

  • For the over 23s*, the hourly rate will increase from £8.72 to £8.91
  • For the 21 – 22 year olds, the hourly rate will increase from £8.20 to £8.36
  • For the 18 – 20 year olds, the hourly rate will increase from £6.45 to £6.56
  • For under 18s, it will increase from £4.55 to £4.62
  • For apprentices, it will increase from £4.15 to £4.30

*This has been reduced from the over 25’s in previous years

Changes to Statutory Payments

4 April 2021

 The weekly rate of statutory sick pay increases from £95.84 to £96.35

The maximum weekly rate for calculating statutory redundancy pay (for those with more than two years service) increases from £538.00 to £544.00

The weekly rate of statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental and parental bereavement pay increases from £151.20 to £151.97 from 4 April 2021.

Make sure you have updated any policies and procedures that may reference these payments. Always safer to remain silent on the rates and sign post them to the relevant government websites! Just beware of any changes that may accompany the rates changes so you are not caught unawares!

Other increases to be aware of…

On or after 6 April 2021

The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal increases from £88,519 to £89,493 for dismissals that take place on or after 6 April 2021.

The Presidents of the Employment Tribunals in England & Wales and Scotland have issued joint Presidential Guidance updating the bands of awards for injury to feelings, known as the Vento bands. In respect of claims made on or after 6 April 2021 the bands will be:

  • Lower Band (less serious cases) : £900 to £9,100
  • Middle Band (cases that do not merit an award in the upper band) : £9,100 to £27,400
  • Upper Band (the most serious cases) : £27,400 to £45,600 (with some exceptional cases potentially exceeding £45,600)

It is also worth remembering there are no ‘ceilings’ for discrimination cases…. The highest sum awarded in the period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 was £265,719 and was awarded in a disability discrimination claim… closely followed by an award of £243,636 for an age discrimination claim.

Make sure you that you don’t put yourself or your company at risk… Jaluch offer a wide range of training sessions aimed at identifying risk and managing your workforce…from personal development, to accountability training, from dealing with micro aggression to diversity and inclusion (bullying or banter?) and practical hands (‘virtually’) on training managers to spot and deal with workplace grievances…

Delayed Implementation of the IR35 off-payroll working Rules for Public Sector

6 April 2021

The long awaited (delayed due to COVID) IR35 Off-payroll working rules come into effect on 6 April 2021. From this date, all public authorities and medium and large sized clients will be responsible for deciding the employment status of workers providing their services through their own limited company or another type of intermediary (sometimes known as contractors).

The rules apply to all public sector clients and to private sector companies that meet 2 or more of the following conditions:

  • you have an annual turnover of more than £10.2 million
  • you have a balance sheet total of more than £5.1 million
  • you have more than 50 employees

As an organisation you’ll need to decide the employment status (and therefore tax position) of:

  • Every worker you engage through their intermediary (sole trader/limited company/umbrella organisation)
  • Every self- employed worker
  • Every worker you engage through an agency

Organisations are required to communicate their determination through a Status Determination Statement (SDS). This must be passed to the worker (before 6 April 2021).

What does this really mean?

Don’t get caught out by this legislation! HMRC are very interested in identifying ‘employees in disguise’ and it is not up to your contractors  to ‘determine’ their status. If they fall inside IR35 you are required to deduct Tax and National Insurance payments at source. Failure to do so could mean HMRC coming to you for those payments. This could be very lucrative for HMRC – when introduced in the public sector in 2017 HMRC raised an additional £550M in additional taxes!

If you have not enacted this for your organisation and need help please get in touch. We can support with reviewing your contracts to ensure compliance, and with letters providing individuals with a Status Determination Statement.

Modern Slavery Statements – Registry on Line

11 March 2021

If you are a Company that supplies goods and services in any part of the UK and have a turnover of at least £36 million a year it is likely that you are covered by Section 54 of the Modern Slavery act which means you are required to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year. This should set out the steps that you as an organisation have taken during the year to ensure that slavery is not taking place in your business or your supply chains. This must be published on your website.

In addition whilst not mandatory (yet!) on 11 March 2021 the Home Office launched a modern slavery statement registry online, to provide a platform for organisations to share the positive steps they have taken to tackle and prevent modern slavery. All organisations are strongly encouraged to submit their most recently published statement on the registry to demonstrate that they have reported. It will allow users such as consumers, investors and civil society, to search for statements and scrutinise the action organisations are taking to identify and address modern slavery risks in their operations and supply chains.

Need help? Jaluch can support you in producing your own Modern Slavery statement and guide you to understand what you need to do in your business to ensure compliance with the Act.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

By 5 October 2021

The gender pay gap is the difference between the average (mean or median) earnings of men and women across a workforce.

From 2017, if you are an employer who has a headcount of 250 or more on your ‘snapshot date’ you must comply with regulations on gender pay gap reporting. Gender pay gap calculations are based on employer payroll data drawn from a specific date each year.

Due to the impact of Coronavirus (COVID‑19), the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have announced that enforcement of gender pay gap reporting for the 20/21 reporting year (which uses a snapshot date of 31 March 2020 and 5 April 2020) will not begin until 5 October 2021. The EHRC is encouraging employers to report ahead of the usual deadlines (30 March 2021 and 4 April 2021) wherever possible, but no enforcement action will be taken providing they report by 5 October 2021.

Currently employers must only publish their gender pay gap statistics without any specific requirement to demonstrate what they are doing to remedy any inequalities. However most employers are required to submit and publish a written statement along with their data and it is highly recommended that a remedial action plan accompanies the data.

You must publish your gender pay gap report and written statement in a prominent place on your employer’s public-facing website.

In addition, in October 2020 a new Equal Pay bill (The Equal Pay (Information and Claims) Bill) was introduced, its purpose being if passed to increase transparency in pay and expand current pay reporting obligations for employers with 100 or more employees.

The bill also includes some ‘right to know’ provisions which could allow women to request pay data relating to a male colleague if they think there is a difference in pay…watch this space…

It’s important that you do have robust equal pay principles across your workforce, male and female, and do not fall foul of discrimination and/or equal pay claims like Asda….

The recent Asda Ruling

In March Asda’s appeal in relation to an equal pay case brought forward by 40,000 shop floor workers was dismissed by five Supreme Court judges.

This case which was first heard by an Employment Tribunal in 2016 decided that Asda store workers, most of whom are women, were entitled to compare themselves to distribution staff, most of whom are men. That decision was subsequently upheld by Court of Appeal judges in 2019. Asda appealed to the Supreme Court and this was lost last week.

Asda argue that the physical working environments between retail and distribution staff are different, while the shop workers, the claimants, believe the work provides the same level of value to the employer. The distribution staff receive between £1.50 to £3.00 per hour more than their retail shop floor colleagues.

Whilst the case is not won or lost as yet, the ruling means the claimants are now free to take further action.

Other recent case law updates that may be of interest:

Care Workers – Sleeping on Duty

The Supreme Court ruled finally last month that Care workers across the UK who have to sleep at their workplace in case they are needed are not entitled to the minimum wage for their whole shift.

If won, care providers feared an estimated £400m bill for back pay. The Supreme Court recommended instead that sleep-in workers should receive an allowance, not the Minimum Wage, unless they are awake and ‘working’. It is worth noting that if the worker is woken up to work, national minimum wage will be payable for that time but not for the full duration of their sleep-in shift.

Can we help?

Our team at Jaluch provides commercial and practical HR advice, please contact us to find out if we can support you. No lengthy contract required and many of our clients pay us for actual usage on a monthly basis. Friendly, plain English, commercial and always supportive. We have huge numbers of very loyal clients. We’d love it if you became our next very valued client. Call our head office on: 01425 479888.

Our template HR document website, Docs Wizard gives members instant access 500+ contracts, policies and letter templates to assist with issues covered in this article and lots more. Membership starts at just £199+VAT and until the end of April we are offering full access, premium membership for £299+VAT (usually £499+VAT) Get in touch for your discount code.

The information contained within this article is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of employment and associated law and employee relations issues as at the date of publication. Jaluch Limited, or any of its directors or employees, cannot be held responsible for any action or inaction taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be sought on all individuals matters.
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