Day 1 Written Statements (Contracts) and Other April 2020 Changes

After a period of relative recent stability, April 2020 sees arguably the most significant employment law changes for some time. The main ones are noted below, with the requirements for all workers (not just employees), to have a day 1 written statement, likely to be the most impactful. If you think that your business needs any assistance, in getting April 2020 ready, then please do make contact (see details below)!

Day 1 Written Statements (Contracts), to become a right for almost all staff
Currently, under the Employment Rights Act 1996, all employees whose employment lasts at least one month are entitled to a written statement setting out the main terms and conditions of their employment. This has to be supplied within 2 months of their start date.
With effect from 6 April 2020, a relevant statement must be provided to all new staff (employees and workers), on or before the first day of their employment, rather than just employees. Employers should, in particular, note the extension of the right to workers, which would include (for example) casual/zero-hours staff.
The majority of written particulars must be provided in a single document, on or before the first day of work. This will be known as the principal statement and must include;
• the notice periods for termination (by either party),
• terms relating to sickness absence & sick pay,
• terms dealing with holiday & holiday pay entitlement and any other benefits
• details of normal working days & hours and whether these are fixed or variable.
• Details of any probationary periods.
Certain terms can still be provided at a later date – as long as this is no later than two months from the start date – and these include;
• disciplinary procedures and
• pension arrangements.

Full details are set out in legislation, although you may prefer to contact your local employment specialist.
Either way, employers should ensure they understand the added requirements, for day 1 statements, and make the required changes to the documentation normally issued. While employers don’t have to give existing employees (assuming they have a currently compliant statement) the enhanced information required, as a matter of course, they should still be notified of any relevant updates.
Employers should also be prepared for requests to be made, for new style statements, by existing employees, and ensure they have the capacity to meet such requests, no later than one month after the request is made. Legal advice should be sought when adding/creating the new particulars, to avoid potentially costly errors.

As far as workers are concerned, an interesting quirk is that there does not seem to be a requirement for existing workers, to be issued with a compliant day 1 statement. However, having certain workers (those engaged from 6 April 2020) having a contract, and others not, is a potentially divisive situation which employers will likely wish to avoid.

Holiday pay calculation changing from 6 April
From 6 April 2020 the reference period for calculating holiday pay for workers/employees, whose pay varies, is changing from the current 12 week period, immediately before a holiday is taken, to a period of 52 weeks. If the worker has not worked for 52 weeks then the reference period will be the number of weeks the worker has been employed.

This change is likely to have the most significance for seasonal businesses (including tourism), with an associated likely increase in the administrative burden. There may, of course, be many Highland businesses affected, who will now need to liaise with their payroll provider/department accordingly.

Parental bereavement leave
New legislation is also due to come into force, surrounding bereavement leave, on 6 April 2020.
Under the legislation, employees will be entitled to a statutory minimum of two weeks’ parental bereavement leave (PBL) following the death of a child. The right to such leave will apply to all parents employed, who lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth (from 24 weeks of pregnancy), irrespective of their length of service. The leave may be taken as a single block, or as two separate blocks of one week, and may be taken at any time in the period of 56 weeks after the child’s death.
Parents with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service, and weekly average earnings over the lower earnings limit, will also be entitled to Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay (SPBP), paid at the statutory rate of £151.20 per week (from April 2020) – or 90% of average weekly earnings where this is lower. Such pay will be administered by employers in the same way as existing family-related statutory payments.

Macleod & MacCallum Employment Team, Euan Smith and Graham Laughton, act for businesses and employees and can be contacted on 01463239393 or employment@macandmac.co.uk.

March 6, 2020