• The latest employment law changes – April 2021

    Published: April 13 2021

    Despite the challenging circumstances brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, there are a number of employment law changes, effective from this month, that organisations should not lose sight of.

    In this article we provide a summary of the key changes. We also highlight the actions you should take to ensure that your organisation remains compliant.

    National Minimum Wage and other statutory rate increases

    The rates for National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage increased from 1 April 2021, to:

    • apprentices – £4.30
    • under 18 (but above compulsory school leaving age) – £4.62
    • aged 18 to 20 inclusive – £6.56
    • aged 21 to 22 inclusive – £8.36
    • aged 23 and over – £8.91

    The National Living Wage has been extended to 23 and 24-year olds for the first time.

    In addition, statutory maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental leave increased to £151.97 from 4 April 2021.

    The rate for Statutory Sick Pay increased to £96.35 on 5 April 2021.

    What can you do?

    We advise you to review your current pay rates to ensure that they comply with the recent changes.

    Gender pay gap reports (private and voluntary sectors)

    Private and voluntary sector employers in England, Wales and Scotland with at least 250 employees are required to publish information about the differences in pay and bonuses between men and women in their workforce, based on a ‘snapshot’ date of 5 April each year.

    Last year, due to the pressures of the pandemic the government announced a suspension of enforcement measures on reporting for 2019/20. This has now been reintroduced.

    If you are an employer, you now have until 5 October 2021 to report your 2020/21 figure before enforcement measures are taken.

    What can you do?

    We encourage you to start collating data in plenty of time before the October deadline to avoid any enforcement measures being taken against you.

    IR35 in the private sector

    The extension of the rules to the private sector was due to take effect from 6 April 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic.

    From 6 April 2021, deciding whether IR35 applies became the responsibility of all private sector employers that in a tax year have:

    • more than 50 employees
    • an annual turnover over £10.2 million
    • a balance sheet worth over £5.1 million.

    What can you do?

    Firstly, review your current workforce (including those engaged through agencies and other intermediaries) to identify those individuals who are supplying their services through PSCs.

    Then determine whether the new off-payroll rules will apply. Businesses are encouraged to use the check employment status for tax service to do this.

    Other developments

    In addition, the following changes are in the pipeline that you need to be aware of:

    Extending pregnancy protection from redundancy

    Currently an employee at risk of redundancy while on maternity, adoption or shared parental has the right to be offered any suitable alternative roles that are available.

    However, following a consultation earlier in the year on pregnancy and maternity discrimination, the government is proposing to extend this protection to:

    • Pregnant employees, once they have notified their employer of their pregnancy
    • Employees returning from maternity or adoption leave within the previous six months
    • Parents returning from shared parental leave.

    What can you do?

    • Review your existing policies and procedures to ensure compliance and avoid discrimination
    • Consider the implications this may have during the redundancy process.

    Neonatal leave and pay

    Following consultation in 2019, the government published a response in March 2020 confirming that parents of babies that are admitted into hospital as a neonate (28 days old or fewer) will be eligible for neonatal leave and pay if the admission lasts for a continuous period of seven days or more.

    They will be entitled to this from day one of their employment and up to a maximum of 12 weeks.

    Details have yet to be released. However, the leave is expected to be taken after maternity/paternity leave, in blocks of one or more week, and paid at the statutory rate for those employees with 26 weeks’ service.

    What can you do?

    • Review your existing family policies and procedures.

    Further support

    If you would like help on the issues covered in this article, such as reviewing your current policies or procedures, please contact the Kent HR team today.

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