April Updates in Employment Law

As we all know, the law is constantly changing and that was definitely the case in April 2019. If you haven’t refreshed your legal knowledge yet, as an employer or employee, then here are some of the employment law changes you need to know.

National minimum wage

On 1st April 2019, National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage increased as follows:

  1. 18-20 year olds increased from £5.90 to £6.15 an hour;
  2. 21-24 year olds increased from £7.38 to £7.70 an hour;
  3. Those having left school but younger than 18 increased from £4.20 to £4.35;
  4. The apprentice minimum wage increased from £3.70 to £3.90 an hour providing the apprentice is under the age of 19; and
  5. National Living Wage for those over 25 increased from £7.83 to £8.21.

This means that, if you have any minimum wage employees, their pay should have increased accordingly in April.

Gender pay gap

On 4th April 2019, employers with 250 or more employees had to submit their annual report on their gender pay gap percentage.

Payslips

On 6th April 2019, the law extended the right to receive payslips to those recognised as ‘workers’. Additionally, if an employee is working different hours each month then the number of hours must be included on the payslip.

TOP TIP FOR EMPLOYERS – If you have not already done so, discuss this change with your payroll team to ensure that you have the new procedures and information in place.

Increases to Statutory Pay

Statutory sick pay increased from £92.05 to £94.25 a week.

Statutory maternity (SMP), paternity (SPP), adoption (SAP) and shared parental pay (ShPP) increased from £145.18 to £148.68 a week.

TOP TIP FOR EMPLOYERS – Where any of your employees are in receipt of any such statutory payments, you should make sure that the relevant increase has been incorporated. Where agreement has already been made with regards to SMP or ShPP, for example where an employee’s earnings over this time are being averaged out over their leave, such sums should be reconsidered and recalculated.

Tribunal compensatory award increase

The maximum limit the tribunal can award as a compensatory award for unfair dismissal increased from £83,682 to £86,444.

TOP TIP FOR EMPLOYERS – Although there is a cap in place, don’t forget that there are some exceptions where the cap does not apply. This includes dismissals for whistleblowing or for raising certain health and safety issues. There is also no cap if a dismissal is related to discrimination.

Vento bands

Vento bands are awards for injury to feelings caused by discrimination. This award is additional to any financial losses which the employee may have incurred.

For any claims brought after 6th April 2019 the applicable bands are now:

  1. Lower band (£900-£8,800) – appropriate for less serious cases, such as where the act of discrimination is an isolated or one-off occurrence
  2. Middle band (£8,800-£26,300) – for use in serious cases, which do not merit an award in the highest band
  3. Upper band (£26,300-£44,000) – for the most serious cases, such as where there has been a lengthy campaign of discriminatory harassment on the ground of sex or race.

It is worth noting that existing claims (brought before April 2019) will still be subject to the previous bands.

Suspension

The employment tribunal heard the case of Uwalaka v Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust in early April, in which the Respondent had suspended Mr Uwalaka for almost three years. By the time the case reached Tribunal, there had still been no conclusion and the tribunal commented that the length of time taken was “appalling”.

TOP TIP FOR EMPLOYERS – If you have any employees that are suspended, or are considering suspending an employee, you should ensure that such suspension is not longer than may be reasonable. A prolonged suspension may contribute to an unfair procedure and claims for unfair dismissal.

Also check your contracts of employment and policies to ensure you have a clause in your contract to allow you to do this and to ensure you don’t act in breach of this.

Maternity/ Paternity leave

The case of Ali v Capita Customer Management took place last year, but is worth considering as the issue of equal parental pay continues to be debated.

Jodie actually represented Mr Ali in his original claim.

In this case, Mr Ali initially won a discrimination case after he wasn’t allowed enhanced shared parental pay to look after his newborn. His wife was advised by doctors to go back to work to help her recover from post natal depression, and he therefore sought to take shared parental leave. The company policy offered only statutory entitlements, although his wife would have been entitled to generous enhanced maternity pay from the same company.

The employment appeals tribunal overturned the discrimination decision and Mr Ali lost the case on the grounds that maternity leave was fundamentally not about childcare, but rather about the role which a mother played in child birth, recovery and raising that child in infancy.

Mr Ali is expected to appeal, and we suggest that, where there are discrepancies in your enhanced parental pay, you endeavour to make sure all genders are paid equally, to avoid any such discrimination allegations.

TOP TIP FOR EMPLOYERS – Men and women should be treated equally in the workplace.  The outcome of the appeal could go either way so it’s worth looking at your policies now to check whether one is more favourable than the other.

 

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