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April is usually the month when major employment law changes come into play and the ongoing covid-pandemic is not halting any employment law updates this year. HR teams or those running their own business, should make sure they are prepared for any changes that will impact their business.

   

Our specialist Employment Law Team at Lamb Brooks keep a close eye on expected and confirmed changes in legislation so that they are ready to help guide business clients through the process and advise on any issues they may run into.

   

An overview and reminder of 8 key employment law changes to be aware of this April include:

   

#1 IR35 Reform

 

The long-awaited reform of IR35 rules for the private sector came into place on 6 April 2021. This change will mainly affect medium to large companies who engage with contractors providing their services through their own personal service company. IR35 (or off-payroll working rules) is tax legislation designed to combat tax avoidance. The update will see that companies are now responsible for determining whether the contractor falls within the rules and who will be responsible for making PAYE and NIC payments.

 

Businesses should audit their workforce if they have not already done so, to ensure they are clear on who is deemed an employee, a worker or a contractor and provide contractors with a status determination statement. Companies could be liable to penalties and legal action if they fail to comply.

   

#2 Covid-19 Shielding & Furlough

 

Shielding for clinically vulnerable people came to an end on 1st April therefore companies will no longer need to provide Statutory Sick Pay for those that are absent from work due to shielding advice. Employees who are clinically vulnerable should  work from home if they can, work in the workplace with the required COVID-secure safety measurements in place or if they are unable to work due to a workplace closure or disruption to business cause by the COVID-19 pandemic, they can be furloughed.  Please note there is no legal requirement for employers to furlough employees.

 

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, or furlough scheme, has been extended until 30 September 2021. Employers need to be aware of their responsibilities to contribute towards this scheme as it is due to be tapered. From 1st July 2021 employers will need to pay 10% towards the cost of hours not worked, which will will rise again to 20% from August 2021.

   

#3 Minimum Wage Increase

 

From 6 April 2021, the national minimum wage and living minimum wage rates increased. The national living wage will now also apply to those over the age of 23. Ensure that you payroll team or software is updated accordingly. The minimum wages are now as follows:

  • Age 23 and over: £8.91 (the national living wage)
  • Age 21 – 22: £8.36
  • Age 18 – 20: £6.56
  • Age 16 – 17: £4.62
  • Apprentices: £4.30
   

#4 Family Leave

 

The rates of numerous statutory family-related leave went up on 4 April 2021. Maternity pay, paternity pay, adoption pay, shared parental pay and parental bereavement pay increased from £151.20 to £151.97 per week.

   

Spring blossom tree outside office workplace HR Employment Law Changes This April

#5 Sick Pay

 

Statutory sick pay has slightly increase from £95.85 to £96.35. Ensure your systems and company policies / intranet are updated to reflect the changes which came into place from 6 April 2021.

   

#6 Worker’s Health & Safety

 

From 31 May 2021 an amendment is being made to the Employment Rights Act 1996. This will extend the protection of section 44 to workers, not just those classed as employees. Workers will gain the right not to be subjected to any detriment (such as disciplinary action, suspension, withheld pay or dismissal) as a result of taking steps to protect themselves or others during a health and safety issue. Claims are starting to come through thick and fast in relation to covid and health and safety, so employers need to ensure they are diligent when dealing with any complaints raised.

   

#7 Increased Tribunal Compensation Limits & Redundancy Payments

 

Another change which came into place on 6 April 2021 is the increase of the compensation award level for certain cases heard at an employment tribunal.

 
  • The cap on a week’s pay used to calculate the basic awards in an unfair dismissal case will increase from £538 to £544.
  • The maximum compensation award for a typical unfair dismissal case will increase from £88,519 to £89,493.
  • The minimum basic award for unfair dismissal cases will increase from £6,562 to £6,634
   

#8 New Immigration Rules

 

Free movement ended on 1st January this year meaning that anyone apart from Irish citizens who wish to work in the UK must comply with the immigration ‘points based’ system. You can continue to employ EU citizens until 30 June 2021, without concerning yourself about the points-based system provided they are already living or working in the UK. They must then apply for settled or pre-settled status by 1st July 2021.

   

Keeping Up To Date

 

It is worth employers investing some time to sense check that they have covered off all the changes that came into play before the month is over. Even though some of the changes are minor, it is important to get it right when it comes to protecting yourself from an employment tribunal claim. Document your audits and checklists so that if a genuine mistake is made, you can show that you are a responsible employer and took reasonable steps to rectify any errors.

   

Lamb Brooks offer a free contract audit review, so why not get in touch today to make sure you are staying legally compliant?

   

If you require further information on any of the changes as above or, if you have specific employment law issues that you have encountered this year, then please get in touch with our specialist lawyers who can help you find a way forward.

   

Our team are commercial and pragmatic, always seeking to find solutions that will help protect your business and your employees.

   

Call our Employment Law Team on 01256 844888 or email enquiries@lambbrooks.com.

       

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The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.