Hello and welcome to the last employment video for 2019. My name is Paul Griffin and I’m head of the Norton Rose Fulbright employment team in London.
In this final video of the year I thought it might be helpful to summarise some changes which are currently due to come into force in April of next year. The main change is in relation to contracts of employment.
Currently, section 1 to 7 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 sets out that employers must provide employees, whose contracts last for one month or more, with a written statement of terms and conditions of employment. The written particulars must be given to employees within two months of them starting employment. Generally speaking, the required written particulars are contained in either a contract of employment or an offer letter. Whichever document is given to the employee is known as the principal document and this must include such information as the names of the employer and employee; the date of commencement of employment and the date when continuous employment began; the scale and rate of remuneration and intervals at which remuneration is paid; any terms relating to hours of work; holiday and accrued holiday pay and also information relating to the employee’s place of work.
There are certain terms that don’t need to be included in the principal statement, but the employee can be referred to information contained in a reasonably accessible document instead. These are matters such as terms relating to sickness and injury, any pension terms, and details of collective agreements. In addition, any disciplinary rules applicable to the employee can be provided in a separate document.
Changes to written statements of employment particulars
There are two key regulations which have come into force and are due to take effect on 6 April 2020 which change the rights of individuals to these written statement of particulars. First, the Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 will extend the right to a written statement to all workers rather than just to employees. This will mean that employers will need to ensure that they have written statements in place for workers.
The snappily titled, The Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 will remove the two month period within which the terms must be given. This means that the right to a written statement becomes a day one right and must be given to the individual before or at the start of the employment. However, certain information such as information on pension and pension schemes and collective agreements, training entitlement and disciplinary procedures can be given in instalments and within two months.
These regulations also require further additional information to be included in the written statement of particulars. These include:
- The days of the week when the worker is required to work, and if and how working hours or days may be varied and how this will be determined;
- Next, other types of paid leave. This means it is not limited to sick leave and pay as at present) but would need to include other paid leave such as maternity and shared parental leave;
- You must also include details of any additional benefits provided. This is no longer limited to sickness, pension and holiday benefits as at present and so would need to include any additional benefits, such as medical insurance or life assurance, which the company provides;
- You must also include reference to any probationary period;
- Finally, the statement must include reference to training, being training that the employer will provide and also training that the worker must complete.
What steps should employers be taking to prepare for these changes?
Many of the new terms required under the Regulations will already be included in a contract of employment or written statement of particulars. However, there are some changes which may be more difficult for employers.
First, the extension of the particulars to workers. An employer will need to review any agreement given to workers and ensure that the necessary information is included. It may not be sufficient to replicate the statement currently provided to employees. Many aspects of a section 1 statement may not be relevant to the workers role, for example details of continuous employment. Employers must therefore make sure that they review the statements currently given and provide a separate section 1 statement for a worker.
Secondly, most of the information needs to be given in a single document. Employers would generally however give details of additional benefits provided in separate documentation, such as a staff handbook. Strictly speaking this will not satisfy the changes to the regulations. An employer should therefore make sure that reference is made in the section 1 statement to any of those benefits, but that further details are provided in policy documents or supplementary statements.
Changes regarding holiday pay
Another additional change which is due to take place on 6 April 2020 is in the Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) Amendment Regulations 2018. This is a change to the way in which holiday pay is calculated. Currently, the reference period for determining an average weeks’ pay is over a period of 12 weeks. However, this can have a significant impact on holiday pay for seasonal workers. The government decided to change the reference period to 52 weeks to make the holiday pay calculation fairer. Employers will need to ensure that their policies are changed and records of employee pay are retained.
These regulations have been passed and therefore we can assume that the changes will be made. Employers should therefore be reviewing their contracts and written statement of particulars and ensuring that they are ready for these changes in April.
This video is intended to provide you with a summary of the changes to take place in April of next year. We envisage that there will be further employment and labour changes during 2020 once the new government has embedded and of course dependent on Brexit. However, we will of course let you know when there are any further developments, but if you would like any more information or have any questions on any aspects of today’s topics, please don’t hesitate to contact us.