Employers attention has been focussed on new legislation and regulations relating to COVID19. However, in April new employment laws came into force. If you are a small business owner and employ staff, then you need to be aware of this new legislation and make the changes required.
Bereaved parents now have the right to have up to two weeks’ parental bereavement leave following the loss of child under the age of 18. This also applies to stillbirths occurring after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Those affected can take the leave in either a one two-week block or in two separate blocks. Bereaved parents who have at least 26 weeks of continuous service are entitled to get statutory parental bereavement pay, whilst those who have worked for less than 26 weeks can take two weeks’ unpaid leave.
All new employees and workers will have the right to a statement of written particulars from their first day of employment. This document is often contained within the employment contract and details the basic terms and conditions of employment.
The new legislation means that the right to a statement no longer requires a minimum length of service and applies from the worker’s first day working for the organisation. The requirement to provide a written statement of term and conditions has also been extended to cover workers, not just employees. This includes zero hours and casual workers.
Employers can no longer pay agency workers less than their own workers in certain circumstances. Once agency workers have satisfied a 12-week qualifying period, they will be entitled to equal pay to workers who are engaged directly by the employer.
The holiday pay reference period has increased from 12 weeks to 52 weeks for workers with irregular working hours. This means that to calculate the average weekly pay, you will need to work out the average hours worked and average pay from the previous 52 weeks. If the worker has been employed for less than 52 weeks, the number of complete weeks the worker has worked should be used. This new legislation is to ensure workers don’t lose out where their hours vary, for example, due to seasonal differences.
The new rates are: £8.72 for over 25 year olds; £8.20 for 21 to 24-year-olds; £6.45 for 18 to 20-year-olds; £4.55 for under 18s and £4.15 for apprentices.
• Review any existing policies relating to these areas and update them as necessary. Consider introducing a new policy for bereavement leave as this is a new area of law or add it to your existing leave policy. If your business recognises a trade union, then work in partnership with the trade union rep to develop the policy;
• Inform staff about the new rights they have under the legislation;
• Be prepared when you are recruiting new staff. Sort your paperwork in advance so that when you make an offer of employment to a new starter they can receive their statement of particulars;
• If you use workers from an employment agency, it is the agency’s responsibility to ensure that they are paying their staff appropriately;
• Ensure that your records for hours worked for the last year by your employees are fully up to date, to enable holiday allowance to be correctly calculated;
• If you employ staff on the minimum wage, then amend your payroll system for the new rates.