Unprecedented or disruption?

Sheila Fahy

It seems that everything in a post-Covid-19 world is “unprecedented”. It’s a word that makes lawyers uncomfortable as we like to assess problems and make decisions on the basis of precedent – what has gone before. But things have changed now, the new world is turning what we knew upside down, and the only thing we know today is that we have no idea what will happen tomorrow.

Each year, at the beginning of April, new employment laws come into force. As you can imagine, this April, things are slightly different. The picture so far is set out below.

Corona Job Retention Scheme

The details have been announced today, and we will issue a set of FAQs shortly.

Coronavirus Act 2020

This new Act, which was rushed through Parliament and received Royal Assent on 25 March, has a few employment measures that require further regulations to bring them into force:

  1. a new form of unpaid emergency volunteering leave is being introduced, with a compensation scheme to compensate for some loss of earnings and expenses incurred by volunteers;
  2. refunds of statutory sick pay (SSP), initially to employers with fewer than 250 employees for the first 14 days of Covid-19 sickness-related absence; and
  3. a temporary suspension of the rule that SSP is payable from Day 4 of sickness absence, so that it can be claimed from Day 1.

The SSP changes will apply retrospectively for sickness days on or after 13 March 2020.

Off-payroll working rules (IR35)

The new rules have been postponed for a year to 6 April 2021. We have produced a separate blog and set of FAQs on this, which will be available shortly.

Gender pay gap reporting

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) announced on 24 March the decision to suspend enforcement of the gender pay gap deadlines for this reporting year (2019/20). The decision means there will be no expectation on employers to report their data.

Parental Bereavement Leave – Jack’s Law

The right to take up to two weeks of parental bereavement leave comes into force on 6 April and applies to parents who suffer the loss of a child aged under 18 on or after that date. It also applies where the parent suffers a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy. The statutory rate of pay is set at the same rate as paternity pay of £151.20 per week.

Employer NICs charge on termination payments

As from 6 April 2020, Class 1A employer NICs will be payable on termination payments exceeding £30K. There is no news yet on whether this will be postponed, but the new Act gives the Government power to simplify procedures around NICs changes.

Changes to section 1 statements

There is still no indication that the changes to written particulars of employment taking effect from 6 April 2020 (for those starting work after that date) will be postponed. We have previously sent a blog on these changes, which can be found here.

New world

As I sit typing this blog, my dog lies contentedly at my feet and the naughty cat – well I am not entirely sure what he wants. The new world brings with it opportunities to explore different ways of doing the same thing. Isn’t that the definition of disruption? Who would have thought that PAs could work from home? Our inflexible thinking told us otherwise. It’s time to recalibrate.

Bring on the opportunities.