April 2019 Employment Law Update : Are you meeting the new minimum?

April 2019 Employment Law Update : Are you meeting the new minimum?

As another year passes, another set of statutory pay increases take effect. If you employ staff or are an employee affected by one of the minimum statutory rates below, make sure that you are aware of the increases that will follow below. Remember: while pleading ignorance may get you far in your personal relationships, the government will not be quite as forgiving. HMRC and employment tribunals will make you wash those metaphorical dishes and will slap you with a hefty fine for making them ask twice.

Ensure that your organisation is paying the national minimum wage

So, while this is not a complete list of all changes that are taking place, we have filtered out the increases that you may likely be affected by as an employer or employee. From today, the 1st April 2019:

National Minimum Wage rises to the following:

  • 25yo and over £8.21
  • 21-24yo £7.70
  • 18-20yo £6.15
  • Under 18 £4.35
  • Apprentice £3.90

From the 6th April 2019:

  • Tax thresholds, £12,500/0% – £37,500/20% – £150,000/40%
  • Statutory Adoption, Maternity, Paternity and Shared Parental Pay –  £148.68
  • Statutory Sick Pay – £94.25
  • £525.00 is the new maximum amount for one week pay when calculating statutory redundancy pay

Pension Contribution Increases

From 6 April 2019, the minimum level of employer contribution into a pensions auto-enrolment scheme increases from 2% to 3%, with an increase in the employee contribution from 3% to 5%. The total minimum contribution, therefore, increases from 5% to 8%.

Payslips

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 over time 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. Click here to find out more.

Checklist of what you need to do:

  • Review all staff to ensure they meet NMW thresholds
  • Write to all staff with increases as a record of the changes to their contract (if you have updated your contract this is a good time to issue new ones)
  • Remind your staff about the pensions increases
  • Review your payslips to ensure they are compliant
  • Review statutory payments with your payroll provider

Make sure that you are paying your teams the right amount of money. A correctly remunerated team is a happy team, and a happy team is a productive team. If you have any questions on this year’s statutory payment increases or need advice or support on other HR matters, please do not hesitate to get in touch by emailing, [email protected], or phoning 02382 025160.

Managing Annual Leave

Managing Annual Leave

Managing Annual Leave in your business

Running a business comes with many challenges, perhaps none more so than balancing the demands of your business against the demands of your staff to take time off! Inevitably there will be peaks and troughs throughout the year but there are always some periods when you can expect demand to be higher.

Certainly, the best summer (so far), since 1976, coupled with England’s ‘so near, yet so far’ performance in Russia has meant that many businesses have experienced even higher than usual requests for time off over the past few months, which would usually be more evenly spread across the year.

So, how do you manage that? And where do you stand if you are struggling to cope with all your staff being off?

This is one area that having expertly drawn up Employment Contracts will prove to be your saving grace. Robust documentation will clearly set out exactly what your company’s leave policy is, how much notice staff are required to give before taking leave and what might happen if several staff apply for the same period of time off.

Are you prepared for the Annual Leave anomaly of the decade?

Does your annual leave year run from 1st April to 31st March?

If so, you could be at risk of breaching the Working Time Regulations!

We can all get a bit confused by the way Easter shifts around from year to year, but in 2018 and 2019 there is an added complication. The reason you could find yourself breaching Working Time Regulations is that there is no Good Friday bank holiday in between 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2019, a phenomenon that we won’t see again until 2024!

How do I know if this applies to me?

Check your Employment Contracts. If your staff are entitled to 20 days annual leave, plus bank holidays, the current leave year will see them only receive a maximum of 27 days leave. One day less than the statutory minimum of 28 days and thus, an unintentional breach of Working Time Regulations.

Don’t be daft, Good Friday doesn’t just disappear!

Of course, you are absolutely correct! Here’s how it worked. Good Friday in 2018 was on 30th March 2018, thereby falling in 2017/18’s leave year. Meanwhile Good Friday 2019 will be on 19th April 2019 – well into the 2019/20 leave year.

What can I do about it?

To be honest, not much. A minimum of 28 days is required by law and you can’t negotiate out of this.

You could undertake a full workforce consultation in order to agree the carry forward of up to eight days leave into the next leave year. However, even if you do this you must still top up their current year’s leave entitlement to 28 days in order to ensure you meet the legal requirements.

Can I do anything to future proof myself?

It would be advisable to review how you have defined annual leave entitlement within your Employment Contracts.

When you start to make any changes to contracts, it’s vital to seek expert advice. Apart from ensuring that you make all applicable changes in one go, a qualified advisor will be able to support you through the consultation and implementation process.

What else do I need to know?

As with many aspects of running a business, HR rules can be complex and the impact of non-compliance on your business, far reaching. Don’t gamble with the business you’ve worked so hard to build.

For your FREE HR Healthcheck contact me on 02382 025160 or [email protected]

Working Time Regulations – Getting it right

Working Time Regulations – Getting it right

In March this year I wrote a guest blog 5 things employers should know about working time regulations and holiday‘  a recent case in the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has prompted me to add some additional thoughts to ensure you are making sure you complying with the regulations.

Just to recap on how to comply with the ‘Normal’ rules. Unless exceptions apply, you must offer workers the following 3 breaks as a minimum:

1.Rest Breaks

Workers are entitled to a rest break if they are working more than 6 continuous hours in their working day.  You must ensure:

  • The break lasts at least 20 minutes – I always advise that rounding up to 30 minutes is easier on payroll and ensure that the minimum is achieved
  • The worker is allowed to leave their workstation
  • The worker is not on call
  • The break is not right at the beginning or end of the working day.

However, you don’t have to:

  • Provide extra tea, lunch or smoking breaks on top of this
  • Pay workers during this break (although many employers do provide a paid break)

2. Daily Rest

There is a right to 11 hours’ rest between each working day.  So, for example, if someone finishes work at 9 pm, you shouldn’t require them to start work again until 8 am the next day.

3. Weekly Rest

You must give workers the right to an uninterrupted 24 hours without work each week or 48 hours each fortnight.

Compensatory Rest Right

Due to the diverse roles that we have, there are always exceptions where workers may be entitled to compensatory rest breaks, daily rest and weekly rest if they are unable to take normal breaks.

  • Compensatory rest must be the same length of time as the break the worker missed
  • Workers must take the break in an uninterrupted block
  • Workers should be able to take the rest they’ve missed as soon as possible
  • You are permitted to require an employee to be on call during a compensatory rest break.

Examples of when compensatory rest might apply;

  • You have shift workers who can’t always take the required daily, weekly rest break between finishing one shift and starting another
  • Your workplace is a long way from the worker’s home
  • A worker has to travel a long way to different workplaces, making it difficult to take set breaks
  • Your industry has busy periods (e.g. retail, postal services, tourism)
  • There’s an emergency or risk of an accident which means staff have to work
  • The job needs round-the-clock staffing (e.g. Carehome, hospital)

Where more generous provisions apply

There are 3 situations in which you need to provide additional or longer breaks beyond the above normal requirements

Health and Safety Reasons

For workers that work on a production line for example or if the worker is doing computer work.  There is no hard and fast rule but health and safety guidance suggests that workers spend 5-10 minutes every hour away from the screen, although they can still do other work in this time, such as reading or answering the phone

Workers are Under 18

Workers under 18 but over school leaving age must have

  • 30-minute rest break if they work more than 4.5 hours
  • Daily rest of 12 hours
  • Weekly rest of 48 hours

Work is carried out at night

If you have workers who normally work at night, you must:

  • Avoid requiring them to work more than 8 hours each 24-hour period (this can be averaged out over a 17 week period)
  • Include regular overtime in the 8-hour limit
  • Be aware that night workers can’t opt out of this limit.
  • Provide the normal rest breaks as detailed above.

To be classed as a night worker if at least 3 hours of their work take place between 11 pm and 6 am.

In Summary

Making sure your team gets the correct amount of rest is important not only for their health but also their productivity whilst at work.  The wellbeing of your staff is an employer responsibility which should be taken seriously.  Studies have shown that staff who don’t take regular rest breaks have longer-term health problems.

If you need any advice or not sure if you are complying with the regulations then do get in touch.