Nobody could have known for sure what would be the fall out of the referendum that took place on 23rd June 2016, and the fact that it took us until 31st January 2020 to leave the EU.
Many were celebrating in various cities around the UK. We could never have known how long it would all take, but some might well have guessed. Everyone now seems to be breathing a sigh of relief, but actually this is only the beginning. Securing trade deals, the effect on legislation and the impact on the UK workforce is going to be enormous, and therefore the impact on the HR function will be significant.
One of HR’s greatest concerns will be the application of employment law this year and at the end of the transition period, which ends on 31st December 2020. One thing is for sure, that our automatic relationship with the European Court of Judgement will have no jurisdiction in the UK. It is possible that legislation issued in the UK could allow our courts to interpret law without reference to the CJEU. This rather indicates that the legal stage is going to be utterly fascinating over the next few months and it’s worth looking to what is on the legislative slate in the coming year.
Of particular note is the Parental Bereavement (pay and leave) Bill, which has now been passed and will come into effect from 6th April this year. For the first time in our history, bereaved parents will have the right to statutory leave if they have a child under 18 who dies or if they suffer a still birth after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The history of why this law came to pass strikes us all differently, but it is extraordinary that we have to have legislation for families who are struck by terrible tragedy.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is producing guidance on sexual harassment and harassment at work. The booklet can be found at sexual_harassment_and_harassment_at_work.pdf, and is certainly worth a read. The Government Equalities Office has also launched a survey, seeking the views of sexual harassment victims on laws designed to protect them.
These are to mention just two items, just for starters. Once the trade agreements are negotiated there will be a knock-on effect on employment law.
Also, there are key changes coming into effect about written statements of key terms and conditions of employment, which will apply not just to employees, but also to workers. They must be given on or before the first day of employment, not within the first two months as is currently the requirement for employees.
The introduction of tax rules in relation to off-payroll individuals are taking effect from 6th April this year. You will know this as IR35, and it is subject to a Finance Bill of 2020. This shifts the compliance burden so that the end-user client, who uses services supplied by a contractor, via a personal service company, is responsible for checking if IR35 applies or not. If it does, then payment for these individuals will be treated as payments of income, which will therefore be subject to income tax and National Insurance contributions.
Additionally, there are going to be new regulations in relation to agency workers, changes to the way holiday pay is calculated and from 6th April all termination payments above £30,000 will be subject to class 1A National Insurance contributions.
As is usually the case, the government has announced increases to the statutory rates for maternity, paternity, shared parental pay, adoption and sick pay, together with the national living and minimum wage, to take effect from April.
2020 is undoubtedly going to be a year of change, which will cover a number of areas. If you need help with any of the above and the robust but appropriate application of employment law, please do get in touch.