Published 8th December 2020
Employment law is often subject to change; here at Thrive that’s why we love it (because it’s never boring!).
It will be in the minds of many, that Covid-19 will continue to present challenges for many businesses. Our existing furlough blogs will remain helpful until at least March 2021. Other concerns will include how manage homeworking, planning for business continuity, redundancies and ensuring the health and safety of staff. There are also many other changes ahead that will affect employment, one being Brexit, and even the 2021 Olympics and the impact of 2020’s upheaval and people celebrating it being over, which could pose many questions.
If you’re a business owner or if you work within HR, these employment changes are going to affect you and your team. Therefore, it is crucial to keep a track of these changes, so you can understand your responsibilities.
Did you know we provide outsourced HR services to businesses?
Using Thrives HR services makes your life easier, and could make your 2021 easier; we provide you with quick and most importantly, correct HR decisions so your staff management is stress-free and sufficient. We take care of everything. From drafting contracts and handbooks tailored to your business to advising and supporting you through redundancies. There is no limit to our knowledge, if you have an HR question, our qualified solicitors have the answer for you. We are always one phone call away.
Why should you outsource your HR services to solicitors? Getting your HR services from a solicitor means, should a case ever proceed to tribunal everything we have ever discussed is protected by Legal privilege meaning all conversations are protected. Whereas if you were to use an HR consultant, all conversations and documentation regarding that employee would be disclosable in the tribunal.
Get in touch today to invest in your business and make your HR stress free. Email Jodie.email@example.com
A timeline of what to expect in the year 2021
We will continue to update this throughout the year!
Be ready for Brexit – 1 January 2021
The end of the Brexit transition period means that there will be a new points-based immigration system in place from 1 January 2021. We have written more about the impact of Brexit here.
Comply with any new rules on publishing modern slavery statements
The government has committed to making changes to the rules on publishing modern slavery and human trafficking statements.
It is not yet known when the new rules will come into force. The Government has said that it will publish guidance before the end of 2020, including on best practice approaches to reporting.
Tips for employers:
It will be mandatory for organisations to report on certain areas when publishing their statement. They will be required to publish their reports on a government-run reporting service and there will be a single reporting deadline.
The duty to publish a statement will be extended to public-sector bodies with a budget of £36m or more.
Change to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which was due to close at the end of October 2020, has been extended until 31 March 2021. Employers can furlough employees from November 2020 even if they had not previously made use of the scheme. The scheme will cover 80% of furloughed employees’ wages (capped at £2,500 per month) until 31 January 2021.
The government will review the terms of the scheme in January and decide if employers should be required to contribute a proportion of employees’ wages.
TIP for employers: employers will need to assess how any changes to the scheme will impact their business and plan how to respond when the scheme comes to an end.
Be aware that redundancy protection for pregnant employees and new parents may be extended
The government consulted in 2019 on extending redundancy protection (ie the right to be offered suitable alternative employment) for employees taking maternity leave and for other new parents in it’s Employment Bill. It committed to extending the period of protection so that it would apply from the point the employee informs their employer that they are pregnant and continue for six months after their return to work.
No date has yet been set for these changes to be brought into force, but they could start to be debated again in early 2021 as the impact of COVID-19 comes to an end.
Job Support Scheme
The furlough scheme is meant to come to an end on 31 March 2021, with the Job Support Scheme potentially coming back into place. This is what it looked like last time (albeit, it was short-lived!
This was supposed to launch in February 2021 as a one-off payment scheme – to pay £1,000 to the employer for every eligible employee retained beyond January 2021. The launch has been suspended and it may be replaced with an alternative “retention incentive” in March – April 2021.
Statutory Rates Change
Statutory rates usually change every April, including for sick pay, family-related pay and redundancy pay.
The new national minimum wage rates to apply have been announced and are available here. It may be that the changes to other statutory rateswill be significantly less than in previous years due to the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.
Review your contracts for IR35 in the private sector
Reforms to the IR35 rules on off-payroll working in the private sector come into force on 6 April 2021, having been delayed by a year due to the coronavirus crisis. The rules are aimed at reducing tax avoidance for contractors employed via personal service companies. We have a blog on those changes here.
TIPS for Employers: employers should review their contracts and put in place the necessary procedures to ensure compliance.
In late April 2021, a full Government response is expected to the Law Commission report on changing employment law hearing structures.
The Olympics are set to take place in July 2021. What will this mean for employers? Will employees want holiday time off for this? Will there be any positive impacts on mental health or physical health which employers may want to take advantage of?
Other changes on the horizon?
There are a few other changes which we may see this year, some of which we also expected in 2020 but were delayed due to Covid. Whether they will come to fruition in 2021 is as yet unknown.:
- Measures to ensure that tips left for workers go to them in full (in the Employment Bill – yet to be debated);
- A new right for all workers to request a more predictable contract (in the Employment Bill – yet to be debated);
- An increase to the length of time required for continuity of employment to be broken (in the Employment Bill – yet to be debated);
- Changes to parental leave and neonatal leave (some of which is in the Employment Bill, some of which is arising from the Good Work Plan);
- Changes to disability access rules (arising from 2019 Government Consultation entitled ‘Health is Everyone’s Business’);
- Changes to reference obligations, ensuring only basic references can be given;
- Ethnicity pay gap reporting (arising from 2019 Government Consultation);
- Changes to use of NDAs and rules on sexual harassment in the workplace (arising from #MeToo and resulting consultations);
- Domestic Abuse and the Workplace Support (Consultation commenced in 2020);
- Amendments to whistleblowing rules (recommended by an All Party Parliamentary Group earlier this year).
Any single one of these changes could be significant, but all of them would be almost revolutionary. Thrive will be here to support you at any time!
If you would like to speak to a member of our team about any of our services or if you have any concerns about the upcoming changes in relation to your workplace and/or workforce, please get in touch.
By Alicia Collinson
Please note this blog is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action. Please contact us if you have any questions on firstname.lastname@example.org