April 2019 employment law changes: Seven things for HR to do
Every April, HR professionals are faced with a raft of amended employment laws and deadlines for their organisation to meet. Important issues in April 2019 include changes to the law on payslips and the usual increases to the national minimum wage, maternity pay and redundancy payments. Large employers should also be working on their second gender pay gap report and their latest modern slavery statement. Meanwhile, the impact of Brexit on EEA nationals continues to be a major issue.
1. Meet your second gender pay gap reporting deadline
By now, HR professionals at employers with 250 or more employees will be hard at work putting the finishing touches to their second gender pay gap report.
The deadline for private-sector and voluntary-sector employers to publish their second report is 4 April 2019, while public-sector employers must publish their second gender pay gap report no later than 30 March 2019.
The gender pay gap report must appear on the employer's website in a publicly accessible manner and, once published, must remain there for at least three years.
Employers should also upload the gender pay gap results to the government's reporting website. Although commentary on the gender pay gap results is not required, many organisations are choosing to add a narrative to help to put their numbers in context, particularly where there is a wide gender pay gap.
Once the deadlines pass, large employers that have not published their gender pay gap figures may face public criticism for failing to do so.
- Example gender pay gap report
- Gender pay gap reporting survey 2018: Responses to the first round of reports
- How to measure and report a gender pay gap
2. Ensure that your organisation's payslips are updated
From 6 April 2019, the minimum level of employer contribution into a pensions auto-enrolment scheme increases from 2% to 3%, with an increase to the employee contribution from 3% to 5%. The total minimum contribution therefore increases from 5% to 8%.
Two important changes to the rules on payslips come into force on 6 April 2019. The changes cover payslips for pay periods that begin on or after this date.
Firstly, payslips must include additional information for individuals whose pay varies depending on the number of hours that they have worked. Where an individual's pay varies by reference to time worked, the payslip must set out the number of hours paid for on this variable basis.
For example, where a worker has a fixed salary each month, but works variable overtime with additional pay at an hourly rate, the hours of overtime should be shown. The hours can be shown either as a single total of all such hours in the pay period, or can be broken down into separate figures for different types of work or different rates of pay.
Secondly, the right to a payslip is extended to all workers, rather than just employees, for pay periods that begin on or after 6 April 2019.
3. Ensure that your organisation is paying the national minimum wage
The national living wage for workers aged 25 and over increases to £8.21 per hour on 1 April 2019.
Other national minimum wage rates also increase, with hourly rates rising to £7.70 for workers aged 21 to 24, to £6.15 for workers aged 18 to 20 and to £4.20 for workers under 18 who are no longer of compulsory school age.
HR professionals should ensure that workers are being paid at least the national minimum wage rate that applies to them.
HR must keep adequate records of all payments so that they can show that their employer has complied with the national minimum wage rules.
- Letter advising a worker of a pay increase because of a rise in the rate of the national minimum wage
- National minimum wage: the basics
- How to review your organisation's pay rates against the national minimum wage
4. Increase statutory family-related pay and statutory sick pay
From 6 April 2019, the personal allowance increases from £11,850 to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold from £46,350 to £50,000.
The weekly rate of statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay increases to £148.68 for pay weeks commencing on or after 7 April 2019.
The weekly rate of statutory sick pay increases to £94.25 from 6 April 2019.
It is up to HR to make sure that staff on maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental leave and on sick leave are paid these statutory minimum rates.
HR professionals also need to review their policies and documents that mention the rates, such as their maternity policies and sickness absence procedures.
- Family-friendly statutory rates
- Example family-friendly policies, letters, forms and contract clauses
- In what circumstances can employees claim statutory sick pay?
5. Adjust your organisation's statutory redundancy pay calculations
New limits on employment statutory redundancy pay come into force on 6 April 2019.
Employers that dismiss employees for redundancy must pay those with two years' service an amount based on the employee's weekly pay, length of service and age. The weekly pay is subject to a maximum amount. This amount is £525 from 6 April 2019.
HR professionals should ensure that calculations for statutory redundancy payments are made on the basis of this maximum amount for redundancy dismissals on or after 6 April 2019.
- Redundancy rights: the basics
- Letter setting out an employee's entitlement to a redundancy payment
- Statutory redundancy pay
6. Start work on your 2019 modern slavery statement
Unfair dismissal compensation
The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal increases from £83,682 to £86,444 for dismissals that take place on or after 6 April 2019.
The government has been ramping up its efforts to ensure that large organisations publish annual modern slavery and human trafficking statements. This is a legal requirement for commercial organisations with a total turnover of at least £36 million per year.
In 2018, the Home Office wrote to 17,000 businesses reminding them of their companies' responsibility to publish an annual statement and warning them that "continued non-compliance will not be tolerated".
While there is no strict legal timetable for publication, the government's guidance recommends that statements be published within six months of the end of the organisation's financial year. For example, if your organisation's financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March, publication for the financial year ending 31 March 2019 is expected by 30 September 2019.
Given this timeframe and the government's increased enforcement activities, HR professionals in large companies should begin working with their corporate compliance, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and public relations departments to produce their latest statement.
- Example modern slavery and human trafficking statement
- Writing a modern slavery statement: a guide for employers
- Anti-slavery legislation: FAQs
7. Continue to monitor Brexit negotiations
Last but not least, employers should continue to keep track of developments as the Brexit crisis in UK politics rumbles on.
At the time of writing, the UK's exit date from the EU is technically still 29 March 2019. However, the situation is changing day by day and HR professionals must keep on top of developments.
Despite the uncertainty, there are practical steps that HR can take now. These include writing to staff who are EEA nationals working in the UK to urge them to apply for settled or pre-settled status, so that they can remain living and working in the UK indefinitely.
- How to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period
- Example letter reminding EEA nationals to apply for settled or pre-settled status
- Podcast: Brexit - preparing your workforce for all scenarios