Employment Law Developments for 2020

As far as employment law changes are concerned April tends to be the busiest time of year and 2020 looks to be no different.  April will be upon us before we know it and it is important for companies to prepare in advance for those changes which impact the way they run their businesses and manage their staff.

All companies should consider reviewing and updating if necessary, contracts of employment, staff handbooks and other policy documents.  In addition, employers should carefully scrutinise the intricacies of their working relationships with staff and other third parties, for example, contractors in view of these new laws.

It is important to ensure that contracts and staff handbooks are fit for purpose so that organisations ensure they do not fall foul of the new legislation and find themselves on the wrong end of a claim.

Extension of the right to receive terms of employment 

Currently, all employers are required to provide basic terms and conditions to all employees.  This means providing a written statement setting out the basic terms of employment for those employees whose employment lasts for one month or more.  As things stand this statement must be provided within two months of the employee’s start date.  

Under the new legislation which will come into force in April of this year, this statement must be given as soon as employees start employment.  In a further change, the right to written terms and conditions will be extended to include “workers” as well as “employees”. 

Given the fact that this new obligation is to provide written terms from day one, employers should begin preparation of the statement during the recruitment stage and ensure that it includes every element of the new legal requirements. 

Employers will also need to consider who might qualify as a “worker” for example sub-contractors may be workers.  We recommend employers use a separate template for employees and workers, some of which may be subcontractors who may need different terms.

Changes to IR35 

At present, the IR35 Rules apply where an individual (worker) personally performs services for another person (client) through an intermediary (usually a personal service company or PSC).  Currently, it is the intermediary’s responsibility to determine whether IR35 applies.

This year changes to IR35 Rules will be implemented for medium and large businesses in the private sector which will largely mirror changes that took effect in the public sector in 2017.  This means that the business itself will be responsible for determining a worker’s status.  

The implementation date for this will be 6 April 2020.

We would recommend that businesses affected by the proposed reform should consider the following:-

1. Urgently engaging with existing contractors to determine whether the rules will apply to them;

2. Putting procedures in place to determine if the rules apply to future engagements;

3. Determine if the new rules will apply to any contracts that will extend beyond April 2020. Businesses are encouraged to use the ‘Check Employment Status for Tax’ service for this; and

4. Looking at the breakdown of your current workforce (including those engaged through agencies and other intermediaries) to identify those individuals who are supplying their services through personal service companies.

Parental Bereavement Leave

A Private Members Bill has been passed providing the right to leave for bereaved parents. The Bill which became the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act will entitle employees who lose a child under the age of eighteen or suffer a stillbirth from the twenty-fourth week of pregnancy to two weeks’ unpaid leave as a right from day one of their employment.  

Again, this will come into force in April of this year.  

We would recommend that employers start to prepare for this by considering implementing a written policy in relation to bereavement leave and/or amending current policies which are in place in staff handbooks.  

Employers should also be mindful of the religious and cultural requirements of staff around bereavement and be aware of the risk of race or religious discrimination claims that may arise from refused requests for time off for religious observances of death. 

Certain religions require a set time for such observance and employers should be considerate of this as well as give some leniency to changes in performance, behaviour or absence.  

If your business is affected by any of these changes, or if you require advice in relation to any employment law matter please contact the specialist employment lawyers here at DPH Legal. 


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