5 employment law changes businesses should look out for in 2019

Employment legislation changes regularly, so it’s important for small business owners to stay up-to-date.

In this guest article, the workplace experts at BrightHR run through some of the 2019 changes to employment law and how they might affect you.

With the prospect of Britain’s exit from the EU on the horizon, business owners are bracing themselves for possible legislation changes.

And while the implications of Brexit on employment law are still somewhat uncertain, there are other important changes that have come into force this year too – including an increase in the minimum wage and new rules around payslips.

If you’re an employer, it’s essential that you comply with the rules and the new rates, as otherwise you could face penalties. Here, we’ll explore five things you need to know about employment law for the 2019-2020 tax year:

  1. An increase in the national minimum wage
  2. A rise in auto-enrolment contributions
  3. A rise in statutory pay rates (eg maternity pay)
  4. A change to the rules around workers’ payslips
  5. The possible repercussions of Brexit

1. The national minimum wage

The new national minimum wage rates came into effect on 1 April 2019.

Employers must now pay workers at least:

  • apprentice rate: £3.90 per hour
  • aged 18-20: £6.15 per hour
  • aged 21-24: £7.70 per hour
  • aged 25 and over: £8.21 per hour

You could face steep penalties if you don’t pay your workers enough. In 2018, the government published the names of over 230 UK employers who had underpaid their workers. Companies were ordered to reimburse workers £1.44m and were fined an additional £1.97m.

2. Auto-enrolment contributions

Both employers and employees are affected by the rise in contributions to auto-enrolment pensions, which came in at the start of the new tax year. Employers will now be required to contribute three per cent of their employee’s pre-tax salary to their pension pot while employees will be required to contribute five per cent.

3. Statutory pay

The government has also introduced changes to statutory rates for maternity pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay, adoption pay and sick pay.

The new rates took effect in April, and increased Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to £94.25 per week, while Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), Shared Parental Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay went up to £148.68.

You can find a full list of the new benefits and pension rates for 2019 to 2020 on the government’s website.

4. Payslips

Another legislative shake-up involves payslips for workers. Employers are now required to provide payslips to all employees paid on an hourly basis. The document should show the amount of time an employee worked, deductions (if any) and their final take-home pay.

This change was made in response to complaints from employees about not being able to equate their actual time worked with how much they received.

Bear in mind that while the new rules apply to agency workers (who should receive payslips from their agency), they don’t apply to freelance workers.

5. Brexit-related changes

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 means that most existing EU law will be kept as UK domestic law after Brexit, which should keep immediate Brexit-related employment law changes to a minimum.

However, immigration rules will change, affecting EU national workers employed by your company, and impacting future recruitment of EU nationals. Europeans already living in the UK will need to apply to stay here under the EU settlement scheme, while any EU national who wants to come into the UK will have to apply through a new immigration system from 2020.

Looking to the future

Towards the end of December 2018, the government responded to a report published by the Women and Equalities Select Committee urging regulations relating to sexual harassment in the workplace. Their response included a promise to work with the Equality and Human Rights Commission to develop a statutory code of practice that addresses this.

While there’s no timeline, employers are advised to take a proactive approach to address the issue in the workplace. The use of non-disclosure agreements to pay off and silence victims of sexual harassment will also be reviewed.

Are there any employment law changes you’d like to hear more about? Let us know in the comments below.

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