What do employers need to know and do this April?

Written on 27 Mar 2019

With the ongoing Brexit uncertainty, it may be easy to forgot the changes which are coming into force for employers this April and put to one side other key issues which employers must tackle. Whilst we await the outcome of this week's Brexit developments, and which will inevitably bring their own challenges for businesses, we set out below the key dates and actions for employers this April:

1 April 2019

National living and minimum wage rates From 1 April, the national living wage for workers aged 25 and over will increase to £8.21per hour and the national minimum wage rates will increase as follows: for workers aged 21 to 24 to £7.70 per hour; for workers aged 18 to 20 to £6.15 per hour and for workers under 18 (but who are no longer of compulsory school age) to £4.20 per hour. Action: Ensure changes are reflected in pay rates

4 April 2019

Gender pay gap reporting On or before 4 April, employers with 250-plus employees must report on their gender pay gap figures based on a snapshot date of 5 April 2018. Action: Upload figures to government website and publish on company website. Consider whether or not to also publish voluntarily an accompanying narrative explaining the figures and any actions taken or which the employer is proposing to take (remember this information will be public so care must be taken on any commitments made).
If you would like any assistance on your reporting and the steps you can take to close your gap, our 'Risk Refine Report' solution is available to assist you. Please do speak to your usual Osborne Clarke contact for more details.

6 April 2019

Pay-slips For pay periods beginning on or after 6 April, pay-slips must include information on any hours worked for variable pay. All workers, as well as employees, will also be entitled to a pay-slip. Action: Ensure variable hours are set out on pay-slips and pay-slips are now provided to all workers. The government has issued guidance for employers on this new obligation.
Statutory sick pay From 6 April, the weekly rate of statutory sick pay will increase to £94.25. Action: Ensure new statutory pay rate is taken into account
Compensation for unfair dismissal and a week's pay for statutory redundancy pay (SRP) and the unfair dismissal basic award For dismissals taking place on or after 6 April, the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal increases from £83,682 to £86,444 and when calculating SRP and the unfair dismissal basic award, the maximum weekly pay rate increases to £525. Action: Factor in new compensation and week's pay figures into any awards

7 April 2019

Statutory 'family leave' pay From 7 April, the weekly rate of statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay increases to £148.68 per week. Action: Ensure new statutory pay rates are taken into account.

Other key issues

Whilst employers must comply with the above dates, it is important not to lose sight of other continuing issues dominating employers' agendas. Whilst each business will have its own specific concerns, the following will be amongst the most pressing issues for any employer:

IR35 changes for end-users and National Minimum Wage (NMW) compliance

Start preparing for the changes to IR35 expected to come into force in April 2020. These changes will have a significant impact on end-users as well as suppliers so it is critical that businesses start considering the impact on their current staffing arrangements now. Also be aware of increased HMRC enforcement action relating to a failure of a staffing supply chain to comply with the NMW; end-users of agency staff may be liable if they knew or should have known there were failures (e.g. where unpaid time is spent preparing at the start of the working day). Our specialist contingent workforce team will be happy to talk to you about these issues and can provide workshops tailored to address your areas of concern.

Use of non-disclosure agreements

Check your employment contracts and settlement terms to ensure that they reflect the current position on the use of confidentiality provisions and non-disclosure agreements. Such provisions have come under increasing media and regulatory scrutiny and a government consultation has now been published proposing legislative reform in this area.

Protecting your business

Use the opportunity to check any restrictive covenants for key employees protect your business interests so far as possible.

Holiday pay

With the launch of the government's awareness campaign on holiday pay, review your current processes and identify any continuing areas of risk. Are there any individuals who do not currently receive holiday pay? What is your position on factoring in overtime, commission and other 'remuneration' to the holiday pay rate? Do your workers and employees know that if holiday is not taken in a holiday year it will be 'lost' subject to any internal policies?

GDPR compliance

Identify what continuing actions you need to take towards GDPR compliance. Do you have the right documentation in place? How are you dealing with the risk of any data breaches? Are you facing any recurring issues – for example, data subject access requests? Our specialist GDPR team for employers will be happy to advise you on your continuing GDPR compliance and making this work for your business, together with any training which your organisation may benefit from.

Please do contact us if you would like to discuss any of these issues and their impact on your organisation.