Changes to employment law from 6th April 2020

Changes being implemented as part of the Good Work Plan finally come into effect from today.

From today, the following laws apply.

Written contracts of employment

The plan introduces several changes to the right to receive a written statement of main terms (SMT). This document lists all the employee’s key terms of employment, including pay and annual leave entitlements, and up until now organisations have had two months to provide it to a new employee. This grace period has now been removed, meaning the SMT will have to be given to the employee from day one of their employment.

In addition, more details now have to be included in the SMT, as follows:

  • the terms and conditions relating to work have been extended to cover terms relating to normal hours of work, days of the week the worker will be required to work and whether these days/hours may vary
  • terms relating to other forms of paid leave such as family-friendly leave
  • details of other employee benefits, not just those relating to pay, such as benefits in kind or financial benefits
  • terms relating to probationary periods including those in relation to length and conditions
  • details of training provision and requirements.

Significantly, employers now have to provide an SMT to their ‘workers’, as well as their employees, including zero hours workers and casual workers.

Holiday pay

The mandatory reference period for calculating holiday pay has increased. From 6 April, organisations have to use a reference period of 52 weeks, instead of the previous 12 weeks, when calculating holiday pay for staff who work irregular hours and thus have different rates of pay. This calculation method will result in a payment which balances out any peaks and troughs of working hours throughout the year.

Agency workers

'Swedish derogation model' contracts for agency workers are now banned. These contracts offered a legal loophole to avoid the requirement to pay agency workers the same basic pay as direct recruits at the hirer organisation after 12 weeks on assignment. Those who are currently engaged on these contracts are now also entitled to a statement to explain the effect of the ban on their pay, which will need to be distributed by no later than 30 April 2020. 

As a separate measure, all agency workers are now entitled to a key facts sheet before they agree to the terms by which they will undertake work. The information required includes the expected minimum rate of pay, any expected deductions from pay and the type of contract the worker will be engaged under. 

Parental bereavement leave

From 6 April, eligible employees are allowed to take two weeks of leave when they suffer either a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy or the death of a child under the age of 18. A day-one right, employees can take these weeks either as one single block of two weeks’ leave, or two separate blocks of one week’s leave. A ‘week’ is understood to be any one period of seven days and does not have to begin on any particular day. Eligible employees have 56 weeks following the death of their child in which to take this leave.

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