Employment law update – Spring 2019

July 18, 2019

Prepare for parental bereavement leave and pay
The government intends to introduce a right for bereaved parents to take paid leave from work.  The right is expected to come into force in April 2020 but you should start preparing this year so that you have a robust policy in place by then if you don’t already have one.

The proposed right is to take leave as a single two-week period, two separate periods of one week each, or as a single week. The bereaved parents would have up to 56 weeks following the child’s death to take the leave.

Right to itemised pay statements for “workers”
Employees already have the right to an itemised pay statement, but this right will extend to “workers” from 6 April 2019.
If a member of staff’s pay varies depending on the number of hours worked, the employer will need to specify the total number of hours worked for which the variable pay is received, or provide the figures for different types of work or different rates of pay.

Auto enrolment pension contributions to rise
From 6 April, employees enrolled in the pension scheme will experience a decrease in their take-home pay as the minimum contribution rates rise from 5% to 8% of their salary, with the employee paying 5%.

Statutory rates 2019/20
The weekly rate for statutory family rates is expected to increase to £148.68 from 7April 2019. This will apply to maternity pay, adoption pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay and maternity allowance.  
The weekly rate for statutory sick pay is expected to increase to £94.25 from 6 April 2019.  The minimum qualifying earnings for SSP are £118.

Termination payments – increased costs
Since 6 April 2018, payments in lieu of notice have been subject to tax and class 1 national insurance contributions.  From 6 April 2019, all termination payments above the £30,000 threshold will be subject to class 1A national insurance contributions (employer liability only) rather than just income tax as before.  This will increase the cost of termination payments for employers.

Employment status
The government’s consultation on employment status closed on 1 June 2018 and there have been a few recent landmark cases dealing with employment status in the gig economy.  A number of people working for Uber and Pimlico Plumbers were found to be “workers”, not self-employed, giving them the right to the national minimum wage and paid holidays. 
In December 2018, the government set out the reforms it planned to introduce as part of the Good Work Plan, its response to the Taylor review.  This includes a commitment to improve the clarity of the employment status tests for employee, worker and self-employed.  If you have concerns about the status of people who work for you, contact us and we can advise and assist with the preparation of contracts to reflect their employment status. 

Women’s state pension age now 65
Since 6 November 2018 women qualify for their state pensions at the same age as men – currently 65. The pension age has been harmonised for both genders, 25 years after the plan was initiated by John Major’s government.  In October 2020, the state pension age changes to 66 for both genders and is expected to increase to 67 from 2026.