5 main employment law policies potentially affected by Brexit
Now that Britain has voted to leave to European Union, what does this mean for employment law policies? Since the mid 1970’s the EU has played a big role in protecting working people, and their employers, so how is this going to be affected? What effect could it have on our employment policies?
Here are the five main employment policies or areas that you will need to be aware of, as they have been discussed during political campaigning, and they will be examined as the country prepares to make its own workplace laws:
Transfer of Undertaking
The transfer of undertaking (or TUPE) is the law that determines the treatment of employees when a business is changing hands. The main points if this ensure that:
- employees are not dismissed
- employees’ most important terms and conditions of contracts are not worsened
- affected employees are informed and consulted through representatives
In 2013, the EU legislation framework weakened, which caused some unhappiness – so this will be looked at, and reorganised under the new UK laws.
The EU Pregnancy Workers Directive 1992 led to vast improvements in the way that pregnant women and new mothers could work. It allowed for time off for hospital appointments, flexible working hours, and allowances for breastfeeding. It also deemed that any mistreatment of women because of their pregnancy would be deemed as sexual discrimination.
The allotted time for maternity leave in the UK is already higher than the EU minimum of 14 weeks, as is parental leave – so despite people’s worries; it is very unlikely that there will be any major changes the employment law policies because of the Brexit.
Working Time Directive
This was implemented in 1992 in the EU, restricting working hours to:
- A maximum of 48 hours per week (optional to workers)
- A daily rest period of 11 hours
- A weekly rest period of 24 hours
- Rest breaks during the day.
It is feared that these regulations will be lifted, but that has yet to be decided on by the UK government.
Employment Law Policies linked to Holiday Entitlements
The holiday entitlement that employees currently have has been determined by the EU, which has set a limit of 20 days per year paid, for full time employees. However, the UK has always added bank holidays into that, giving employees 28 days per year. Most companies employment law policies
So, the UK already has its own rules, which means this isn’t likely to change. However, it is the EU that determines holiday pay – which the UK currently has at basic. There have been a lot of requests for this to be changed and lowered, so it’s something that you’ll want to keep your eye on.
Agency Workers Directive
Many British business owners do not like the current agency workers laws – which protects temporary workers in the same way that it does full time staff – because they feel it’s much too restrictive for short term solutions. Without the EU regulations in this area, it’s likely to be looked at and changed.
So as you can see, all areas of employment law will be affected by the Brexit, and business owners need to be constantly vigilant with these changes to ensure that they continue to operate within the law.
5 Employment Law Changes Every Employer Should Know
It’s extremely important to be up to date with all employment law changes, to ensure that your working practices are correct, and that all the information that you have is up to date. This article looks at the most recent changes that you need to be aware of:
Statutory Maternity Rates
Employment law changes affecting statutory maternity leave tend to take place every year.Employees that are eligible for SMP – i.e. those who have a contract, give you the correct notice, and have worked for you for at least 26 weeks leading up to the 15th week of childbirth – are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave – 26 of which are known as ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’, and the remaining 26 which are considered ‘Additional Maternity Leave’.
During this time, they are allowed 39 weeks of SMP. The first 6 of these weeks, you must pay them 90% of their average weekly earnings before tax. For the following 33 weeks, you will need to pay them the same 90% of their average weekly earnings, or £139.58 – whichever amount is lower.
Modern Slavery Statements
The Modern Slavery Act of 2015 is a relatively new law, which has been put in place to prevent any unlawful employment, slavery or human trafficking from taking place. Commercial organisations with an annual turnover of £36 million or more are required to submit an annual statement committing to this. In this document, you will need to:
- Reiterate your commitment to tackling modern slavery.
- Explain your organisation structure.
- Set out who is responsible for your anti-slavery initiatives.
- Include your relevant company policies.
- State what due diligence of supplies and other companies you work with, that you have,
- Explain what training and awareness programmes that you have in place.
National Living Wage
One the newest employment law changes applies to the National Living Wage. The National Living Wage changes came into effect on the 1st of April, 2016. This now means that workers over the age of 25 will now be paid a minimum of £7.20 per hour. This applies to full and part time workers equally.
Here is a breakdown of what must now be paid to all workers in 2016:
- Over 25’s – £7.20 per hour.
- 21 to 25 year olds – £6.70 per hour.
- 18 – 20 year olds – £5.30 per hour.
- 16 – 17 year olds – £3.87 per hour.
- Apprentices – £3.30 per hour.
Apprentices are aged 16 or over, and combine working and studying to gain a work-based qualification. If you wish to employ apprentices, you will need to do the following:
- Check that your company is suitable for the scheme.
- Register your interest with the National Apprenticeship Service.
- Find a training organisation to help you offer all that your apprentice needs.
- Check to see if you’re eligible for a grant or funding, to help cover the cost of their employment.
- Advertise and select the right person for you.
Many employers are now trying to retain loyal staff by offering them childcare facilities. This can be something that you provide yourself, or something that you offer vouchers for, and is often funded by the employee giving up a part of their salary to fund it. Whatever it is that you do, you need to report this to HMRC, because your business doesn’t pay National Insurance on these childcare schemes, saving your company money in the long run.
6 Questions on Maternity Leave Every Employer Should Know
Many employers are unsure about the rules when it comes to maternity leave, and this can leave them confused when the issue crops up. This guide has been created to help keep you in the know. Here are the top 6frequently asked questions for UK employers answered for you below:
How long is maternity leave?
The maternity leave entitlement is up to 52 weeks, regardless of how long the employee has worked at your organisation, provided they have put in their maternity leave request by their 15th week before the expected childbirth. This is 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave (for which their job must be left open for them to return to) and 26 weeks of additional maternity leave. If the employee chooses to also take the additional maternity leave, and it isn’t practical for you to keep their job open, they must be offered appropriate similar employment at the end of it.
Once the employer is given notice of the expected maternity leave, the employer has 28 days to write a letter to the employee, setting out an expected return date. The employee must give eight weeks’ notice if she wishes to change this.
What about Keep In Touch Days?
During the maternity leave period, employees can take 10 keep in touch days, where they return to work just to learn what has been going on in their absence. This can be used for attending meetings, training, conferences or just catching up, but even part of a day counts as a whole one. If an employee works more than 10 days, they will lose their maternity pay.
How much is maternity pay?
Statutory Maternity Pay will be payable if the employee has been employed continuously for at least 26 weeks, ending with the 15th week before the expected date of birth. This is paid for 39 weeks (the first 13 weeks of additional maternity leave is paid, whereas the rest is not), and follows this pattern:
- The first six weeks is paid at 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings.
- The following 33 weeks is either the Statutory Maternity Pay rate (which is currently £139.58), or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings – whichever is lower.
If your employee does not qualify for statutory maternity pay, they can apply for Maternity Allowance, which is paid for by the benefits agency, as long as they have been employed or self-employed for 26 weeks out of the 66 weeks before the expected childbirth date.
What do I need to do when I find out an employee is pregnant?
There will need to be new health and safety concerns to think about, once one of your employee’s is pregnant. You will need to carry out a risk assessment, and change the employee’s job accordingly. If no suitable work is available, you will need to suspend her on full pay as long as necessary to protect her and her baby. For more information about this, check out the Health and Safety Executive guide on this subject.
What about shared parental leave?
From 1st December 2014, a new law was introduced, allowing parents to share their parental leave. Each parent must apply for this individually at their places of work, and this can be taken all in one go, or in blocks of time.
To be eligible for this, both parents need to comply to the same rules as before (e.g. 26 weeks of continual employment, etc).
This can start as soon as the child is born, and the mother has ended her maternity pay and returned to work. The rate for this is either £139.58 per week, or 90% of the employees average weekly earnings – whichever is lower.
What rights to pregnant employees have?
It’s extremely important not to discriminate against an employee who is pregnant, breastfeeding, or is on maternity leave, or you could find yourself in an employment tribunal under the Equality Act 2010.
Any kind of discrimination against a pregnant woman can be categorised into:
- Direct Discrimination – this is treating an employee unfairly, e.g. making them do something they cannot, firing them for becoming pregnant, etc.
- Victimisation – to avoid this in your workplace, you need to have rules and procedures in place for maternity leave. The Department for Business and Innovation Skillshas compiled and extensive guide on this subject for you.
There is no legal right to time off for breastfeeding, and at the time being you are under no obligation to provide specialist facilities for it. However, you will need to provide a place for breastfeeding mothers to rest and express milk. Accommodating Breastfeeding Employees in the Workplace by ACAS has all the information you’ll need.
Let us know if you have others questions about maternity leave get in touch We’ love to help