4 key areas of Employment Law essential to HR departments in 2019

In 2019 there are several changes to employment law

In 2019 there are several changes to employment law. We consider four vital areas you should get to grips with, whether you are working in recruitment, HR or you run your own business.

1) Changes to EU Worker Status

Rules on the employment of EU nationals are set to change once the UK leaves the EU, although there will likely be lengthy delays pending the necessary changes to legislation. Existing EU workers will be able to apply for “settled status” and avoid being subject to restrictions that all foreign nationals face.

There is a need for companies to balance the requirements of immigration legislation on the illegal employment of workers, against the provisions on race discrimination (Equality Act 2010). There has also been recent consultation on the need for ethnicity pay reporting, which may prove difficult as there is no legal obligation to disclose ethnicity information to employers.

2) Gender Pay Gap Reports

The requirement for employers of over 250 workers to submit their gender pay gap percentage, along with a written statement, is into its second year of reporting and is seen by some as the real litmus test of company equality. These reports must be signed by a person of seniority within the organisation and must be published on the company website and on www.gov.uk. Dates to remember are 31/03/19 for the public sector and 05/04/2019 for the private sector.

This level of transparency may mean an increase in the gap will need to be explained in order to avoid any damage to the organisation’s reputation. Bear in mind that the definition of employee for this purpose will include agency workers and some self-employed people, who personally carry out duties.

3) National Minimum Wage

The 1st April 2019 sees a scheduled increase in the national living wage to the sum of £8.21 per hour. Other national minimum wage increases include: £7.70 for ages 21 to 24, £6.15 for ages 18 to 20 and £4.35 for workers aged under 18. Apprenticeship wages are also increasing to the sum of £3.90.

4) Statutory Family and Sick Pay

A rise in statutory family pay to £148.68 is expected on the 7th of April this year, with its remit including maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay. This year also sees a statutory sick pay increase from the 6th of April this year to £94.25. As of April this year, to be entitled to these, the employee’s earnings should be £118 or more.

Furthermore, bereaved parents will secure a right to take paid time off work (at the same rate), subject to specific eligibility criteria, with an allocation of one fortnight or two separate weeks. These are to be taken within 56 weeks from their child’s passing and will include parents who have suffered a stillbirth from 24 weeks of gestation. Although this will not be in force until April 2020, it would be a good idea to introduce an organisational bereavement leave policy in preparation.

These changes and more represent a seismic shift in employment law and the need for it to be inclusive, family-friendly and address the needs of modern society.

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