Employment Law Updates for early 2019
Published: March 18 2019
2019 is set to be an interesting year, not least with Brexit day fast approaching (or not).
Despite the uncertainty that Brexit has created, HR professionals and business owners still have to ensure they are up-to-date with what’s in store in employment law changes that we do know will happen.
To help make your life easier, we’ve created a handy timeline of the key dates you need to know, and the changes that may affect your organisation.
1 March 2019: Consultation on National Minimum Wage ended
On 17 December 2018 the Government started a consultation on proposed changes to the National Minimum Wage (‘NMW’) Regulations for salaried workers and staff on salary-sacrifice schemes. The consultation explored how effective these rules are in preventing worker exploitation and sought views on proposed amendments to the NMW regulations. It also explored the impact of salary-sacrifice schemes on minimum wage workers. The opportunity to submit feedback is now closed and the results are being analysed so watch this space.
29 March 2019: Original Brexit day
Currently, 29 March marks the end of free movement of workers, although in practice there is likely to be a transition period until 31 December 2020. During the transition period EU citizens already in the UK on 29 March will continue to be able to work in the UK under the same terms as they do at present. Employers will not be required to undertake any different right to work checks to what they do currently.
The Government is in the process of rolling out an EU Settlement Scheme. EU workers already in the UK on this date will need to apply for “settled status” under the Scheme, which will allow them to continue to live and work in the UK indefinitely.
The position for EU nationals arriving to work in the UK after 29 March is currently uncertain. However, latest Government guidance states that employers can continue to check the same right to work documents for these EU nationals as they do currently for existing EU nationals already in the UK. (We will update you once there is further clarity from the Government on this).
The Government will be introducing a new immigration regime after the end of the transition period, when free movement will end for all new EU arrivals. At this point EU workers will be subject to the same immigration restrictions as those from outside the EU, subject to anything which is agreed with the EU during trade negotiations.
EU Settlement Toolkit
The Government has published an EU Settlement Toolkit to help your EU staff apply for and understand the processes involved in settling in the UK. The briefing pack and settlement scheme toolkit gives employers of EU and non-UK citizens advice and information on applying for settled status. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of Brexit a lot of businesses employ non-UK labour and without the right employment status for these staff some businesses may struggle.
Employment Advice in Preparation for Brexit
If you have not done so already, the impact of the change in free movement will need to be considered with recruitment and retention policies reviewed to ensure that you have the staff you need to operate well into the future. If you need help working out the best approach to protect your business, get in touch and we can provide strategic guidance on your options.
1 April 2019: National Insurance Contributions Bill
The National Insurance Contributions Bill will introduce several key changes to National Insurance Contributions (NICs). Some of the most notable reforms include NICs will have to be paid on termination payments over £30,000, Class 2 NICs will be abolished and changes in the NIC’s treatment of sporting testimonials.
1 April 2019: National Minimum Wage increase
The national living wage will rise to £8.21 an hour from 1 April. All national minimum wage rates are due to increase, with hourly rates rising to £4.35 for workers aged between 16 and 18, £6.15 for workers aged between 18 and 21 and £7.70 for workers aged between 21 and 25.
The hourly apprentice rate will increase to £3.90 and the daily accommodation offset will rise to £7.55.
6 April 2019: Payslips for workers
From 6 April 2019, the right to receive itemised payslips will extend to all workers, not just employees. Where a member of staff’s pay varies according to time worked, the employer will have to include on the payslip the total hours worked for which the variable pay is received.
6 and 7 April 2019: Increased statutory family and sick pay rates
The weekly amount for statutory family pay rates is due to increase to £148.68 on 7 April. This rate will apply to maternity pay, adoption pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay and maternity allowance. Meanwhile, the weekly rate for statutory sick pay is expected to increase to £94.25 on 6 April.
A date in 2019: Flexible working changes
A task force has been established by the Government to review flexible working rules and regulations. Action plans will be drawn up in order to increase flexible working opportunities and they will also evaluate how effective the existing Right to Request Flexible Working Regulations are in 2019.
6 April 2019: Pension contributions
The minimum contributions you and your staff pay into your automatic enrolment workplace pension scheme will increase from 6 April 2019. This is also sometimes known as phasing. It is your responsibility to make sure these increases are implemented.
Who does this apply to?
All employers with staff in a pension scheme for automatic enrolment must take action to make sure at least the minimum amounts are being paid into their pension scheme. This applies to you whether you set up a pension scheme for automatic enrolment or you decided to use an existing scheme. However, you don’t need to take any further action if you don’t have any staff in a pension scheme for automatic enrolment, or if you are already paying above the increased minimum amounts.
If you’re using a defined benefits pension scheme the increases do not apply.
What are the increases?
This table below shows the minimum contributions you must pay and the date when they must increase:
Employer minimum contribution
Current rate (April 2018 to 5 April 2019): 2%
New rate (6 April 2019 onwards): 3%
Current rate (April 2018 to 5 April 2019): 3%
New rate (6 April 2019 onwards): 5%
Total minimum contribution
Current rate (April 2018 to 5 April 2019): 5%
New rate (6 April 2019 onwards): 8%
By law a total minimum amount of contributions must be paid into the scheme. You, the employer, must make at least the minimum employer contribution towards this amount and your staff member must make up the difference.
A timely reminder: 31 March 2019: (Public Sector) / 5 April 2019 (Private & Voluntary Sector) – Gender pay gap reporting
Employers with 250 or more staff must report on their percentage gender pay gap on an annual basis.
Businesses should publish gender pay gap reports on the gov.uk website as well as their own. In the private sector reports must also be accompanied by a written statement from a senior employee which confirms the accuracy of the statistics. While this is not obligatory, from a PR perspective, it is worth preparing a short statement/explanation as to why the gap has decreased or increased.
For more information and advice
If any of these changes affect you, but you don’t know what you need to do next – get in touch. We’ll be able to advise you how your business is impacted, and what changes you need to make to ensure you’re meeting your obligations to your staff.
This article was correct as of it’s publication date of 18 March 2019.
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