Employment Law Changes From April 2019

As you will be fully aware, being an employer is much more than taking on a member of staff and paying them a wage each week or month. There are various laws and regulations that must be adhered to and that are designed to protect both – or either – the employer or the employee.

If you are an employer for a larger company, chances are you will have a HR department that takes care of personnel issues. It is their job to ensure legislation is being followed and your team of staff are being looked after within the current employment law.

If you are an employer at an SME, however, and you are in charge of a small team of staff, your company is not likely to have a separate HR department. It will be up to you to make sure you are working within the law when it comes to employment. A clear policy needs to be in place and staff should be aware of it. As with other areas of law, when it comes to Employment Law, changes often occur and, as an employer, you need to be aware of these changes and take action accordingly.

In April 2019, some changes to Employment Law came into fruition. Let’s take a look at some of those changes.

Increase In National Minimum Wage

In a previous article, we looked at some of Chancellor Philip Hammond’s October 2018 Budget announcements and how those announcements would affect young people in employment.

One of the announcements that the Chancellor made was that there would be an increase in the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage. Those increases would come into effect in April 2019. So this is the month where, as an employer, you need to make sure any staff on your payroll who are earning minimum wages get their increase.

The National Minimum Wage increases are as follows:

  • Young people aged between 16 and 17 years old: Increased from £4.20 to £4.35 per hour
  • Young people aged between 18 and 20 years old: Increased from £5.90 to £6.15 per hour
  • Young people aged between 21 and 24 years old: Increased from £7.38 to £7.70 per hour

The National Living Wage relates to people who are aged 25 and over. Previously, the minimum rate they must be paid was £7.83 per hour. This has now increased to £8.21 per hour.

If you are employing Apprentices in your workplace who are under the age of 19, their minimum Apprentice wage has increased from £3.70 per hour to £3.90 per hour.

As you will no doubt be aware, it is not unknown for companies who fail to pay their staff minimum wage to be named and shamed. Nobody wants a bad reputation for not treating their staff as they should. Better to have a reputation for investing in and valuing your staff. This is good for staff retention and future recruitment drives.

Changes To Pay Slips

Are you presenting your payslips with the correct information on them? This is especially important, for example, for those employers who might be employing students to work on a part time or casual basis and are being paid an hourly wage. It will also apply to any staff who you might employ on a zero hours contract.

The changes regarding pay slips relate to those people in your company who, under Employment Law, are regarded as ‘workers.’ If you are unsure as to what constitutes and ‘worker’ and what constitutes an ‘employee’ with regards to your workplace, you can get further information on the gov.uk website on the page: Get Your Business Ready To Employ Staff.

From 6th April 2019, anyone who does varied hours in your workplace now needs to be given itemised pay slips. If you are employing students to do restaurant or bar work, for example, and these hours vary from shift to shift, this must be itemised on the pay slip. If there are different rates of pay for different shifts, this must also be shown.

From 6th April 2019, anyone who is classed as a worker in your workplace must also now be given a pay slip. Again, these must be itemised for different shifts to show the number of hours worked during that pay period.

An Increase In Statutory Sick Pay

As well as an increase in the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage, April also sees the implementation of an increase in SSP (Statutory Sick Pay). For any of your staff members that are entitled to sick pay when they are unable to work, this payment has been increased from £92.05 to £94.25 per week.

When staff members are sick, they will qualify for SSP when they have been unable to work for four days and over. They are entitled to receive this Statutory Sick Pay for up to 28 weeks.

If you have written policies in your workplace about procedures that come into place once a member of staff is sick then be sure to review these so that any mention of payment rates is updated.

An Increase In Maternity Pay

Previously, Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Shared Parental Pay was £145.18 per week or 90% of the employee’s weekly wage if less than the statutory pay. On 7th April 2019, Maternity, Paternity, Adoption and Shared Parental Pay increased to a weekly rate of £148.68. This is a minimum payment and your employee needs to be earning at least £118 per week to qualify for them.

Again, if you have any written policies in place with regards to how your company deals with these payments, make sure to update any payment figures that are mentioned.

An Increase In Pension Contributions

The increase in pension contributions from April 2019 is an increase both for the employer and the employee. The total increase is 8%.

Any employee who is eligible is automatically signed up for their workplace pension scheme. Previously, as an employer, you would contribute a minimum of 2% of your employee’s pre-tax salary to the employee’s pension whilst the employee would contribute 3%. This sum has now increased so that employers need to contribute 3% and employees need to contribute 5%.

These pension schemes are aimed at increasing people’s private pension savings. It is possible for employees to opt out of these schemes and if you are employing young people who might be reluctant savers – they want to take home as much of their salary as possible to spend right now – it could be good practice to make sure they have good advice with regards to their future pension.

Do You Employ EU Nationals?

When we originally addressed the EU referendum, none of us could have predicted the current situation for the UK and EU Nationals living in the UK. At the time of writing, with Brexit still not finalised, you will no doubt be keeping a close watch on the situation from an employer’s point of view.

If your company employs European workers who wish to remain in the UK, you can advise them to apply for Settled Status so that they can remain indefinitely in the UK. This gives both your employee and you, as an employer, peace of mind.

For any of your European staff who do wish to remain in the UK, they must be able to prove that they have been here for at least five years. If this is not the case, or if your employee is unable to provide proof, they can apply for Temporary Status. Once they have five years of Temporary Status, they will be able to apply for the Settle Status.

Reporting On The Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap is an oft discussed topic and, in an attempt to better understand the sizes of those gaps and the reasons for them, employers in companies with more than 250 staff had to publish their gender pay gap figures by the 4th of April. As this is the second report, the figures can be better studied and compared.

If you are an employer at an SME with less than 250 employees, whilst you didn’t need to report your gender pay gap figures (if there is a gap), it is a good idea to keep yourself up to date with findings so that you are aware of the most current situation and any action you may have to take as a result of the findings.

April 2019 was the month where many changes to Employment Law needed to be implemented in the workplace. Keep yourself up to date with any changes in the future so that you are not breaking any laws and your staff are receiving their entitlements.