With 2021 beginning with key changes in the UK, including Brexit and a return to national lockdown, there are also several key changes to employment law to be aware of in the year ahead.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
One of the key components of employment law over the past ten months has been the introduction of the furlough scheme, and with England currently in national lockdown, the scheme has once again come into sharp focus.
However, the scheme is set to end at some point during the year, and at the time of writing this is set to be on 30 April 2021. Employers should start planning the steps that they need to take once the Government employment support scheme is no longer available and if redundancies are being considered, then you should seek expert advice to ensure that the correct process is followed.
Gender pay gap reporting
Compulsory gender pay gap reporting was paused during the coronavirus pandemic last year and is expected to return in 2021.
This means that organisations with at least 250 employees on the ‘snapshot’ date (30 March 2020 for public sector firms and 5 April 2020 for private sector businesses) are eligible to produce a gender pay gap report.
However, if staff were furloughed on the snapshot date, then they will not need to be included in the report, meaning that the figures published might not be fully representative of the picture within their organisation.
IR35 for the private sector
IR35, or off-payroll working rules, for the private sector are set to come into force in April 2021, after the initial implementation date of April 2020 was pushed back.
This means that eligible medium and large-sized businesses that engage contractors through intermediary companies will be responsible for assessing the employment status of those contractors.
For workers that are engaged through their own companies, the responsibility to apply IR35, and subsequently pay and tax and NICs will fall upon the company, third party or agent that is paying the worker’s company.
Redundancy protection for pregnant employees
Changes to redundancy protections for pregnant employees means that protection against redundancy will begin once the employee informs their employer that they are pregnant, either in writing or verbally.
The protection will then last for a further six-months once the employee returns to work, and will also be available to those on shared parental and adoption leave. However, there has not yet been confirmation of when these new protections will be introduced.
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