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Changes to employment law set for 2020

Employee working at a laptopThe political and legal landscape has been largely dominated by one thing in particular in recent times - but don't worry, we won't mention it here! Instead, we’re going to highlight a few changes that are on the horizon as 2020 approaches as far as employers are concerned. So, if you're an employer, you may want to take note of these changes listed below and consider whether you need to take any action to stay on the right side of the law.

Changes to the Good Work Plan

At the end of 2018, the Government introduced the Good Work Plan following the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices. The aim of the Good Work Plan is to improve the quality of work in the UK.

Many recommendations were made in the Taylor Review, and some changes have been tabled for April 6th, 2020. The most notable change that employers should be aware of is all employees having the right to a statement of terms of employment from the very first day they begin their role. The requirements for this statement are also set to be updated.

Changes to the holiday pay reference period are also to be introduced, as well as changes to agency worker laws and the penalties an employer may face for aggravated breach of employment laws.

Before these changes are introduced, employers have the opportunity to have a full review of starter documentation to make sure the business is compliant with the new laws and that the process of taking on new members of staff includes being presented with a section 1 statement of terms of employment on their first day of work.

Use of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)

It has been reported that NDAs have been misused in the workplace in relation to high profile court cases to cover up sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and assault. The Government has rightly taken notice of this, and to tackle the misuse of NDAs new legislation will be being introduced in April 2020.

In employment, it's more common to find confidentiality provisions in Settlement Agreements rather than standalone NDAs. These Settlement Agreements often include clauses that keep the terms and existence of the agreement confidential, as well as events leading up to it. Confidentiality clauses are also often included to prevent the employee from discussing their complaints with anyone else.

Changes to legislation will prohibit clauses which prevent employees from disclosing information to the police and other relevant bodies, ensure that employers make the limitations of a confidentiality clause very clear and that employees are specifically advised about the clauses included within the agreement, and introduce enforcement measures.

If a situation results in a settlement agreement, employers should make sure an up-to-date agreement is drafted that’s fully compliant with any changes to the law, and that it’s also fit for purpose. An old agreement or one that’s simply had some clauses copied from the internet could put the entire agreement at the risk of being unenforceable.

Pregnancy and maternity redundancy protection

The Government has previously made clear their aim to ensure protection from redundancy applies to a woman as soon as she informs her employer that she is pregnant and for 6 months after she returns to work following the maternity leave period. Women on maternity leave are already entitled to suitable alternative employment in a redundancy situation, but it’s worth keeping an eye on other potential development to legislation.

Employers should not only remain aware of the current protection women have in relation to maternity leave but should also ensure they understand all inherent risks that redundancy processes can pose where employees are on maternity leave, long term sick leave, or have other complicating factors.

IR35 tax changes

As of April 2020, new tax changes will mean that medium to large business will be responsible of determining the tax status of contractors engaged via a personal service company, instead of the individual contractor being responsible.

It'll be the responsibility of employers to fully understand the arrangements they have with contractors and determine if the new off-payroll rules will apply to any contracts that extend into April 2020 and beyond. Employers will also need to consider how they plan to determine the tax status for future engagements, including who will be responsible for the decision and how the payments will be made to contractors within the off-payroll rules.

Future proposals for employment law changes

Several open consultations could potentially lead to more future changes in legislation.

Two of particular note that relate to employment law include proposals to support families and proposals to reduce ill-health related job loss.

One consultation that’s open until November 29th, 2019, is looking at proposals to support families and includes the discussion of parental leave and pay, neonatal leave and pay, transparency in relation to flexible working and family leave and pay policies.

Another consultation related to ill-health job losses is looking for new ways the government and employers can take action to help reduce the number of ill-health related job losses. This consultation closes next week on October 7th, 2019 and is proposing a range of measures that will bring about a change in the workplace for disabled people and those with long-term health conditions.

Changes and developments in these areas as a result of consultations are likely to be followed by changes to employment law, so employers would be well-advised to pay close attention to the outcomes.

Employment law is ever changing and it’s all too easy for employers to be caught out, so for up to date employment law advice or to discuss any of the other wide range of legal services that we offer, don’t hesitate to contact our team of expert solicitors here at Fonseca Law. Call today on 01495 303124, e-mail enquiries@fonsecalaw.co.uk or fill in our simple online contact form.