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Employment law updates that you need to prepare for in 2021

It’s that time of the year again when we look to prepare for employment law updates that may be coming our way.


2020 was the year of change that we could never have been ready for, but we hope the below will put you in good stead for the next 12 months.

If you would like more information on what we have covered in this blog then please don’t hesitate to contact us by emailing: admin@whitcombehr.co.uk.


New immigration system from the EU


We have covered this topic a lot over the last few months and it’s one of the first things that you need to have checked off your list.


By now you may already be very familiar with the new points based system but if you haven’t then please take a look at our previous blog on Guidance for Employing EU citizens in the UK after Brexit.


You will need to understand how the new system may affect your recruitment process and whether you need to apply for a sponsor licence or not.


Updates to Furlough


Although not necessarily an employment law, it is important to make sure that you are as up to date as possible throughout 2021 with any updates to furlough.


The scheme is currently set to run until the end of September and although we don’t have confirmation of whether or not it will be extended throughout the rest of 2021 it is definitely something that businesses will need to keep aware of.


Naturally, we will update you via our social media, newsletter and blogs as soon as we have any more news on the matter.


To sign up to our newsletter click HERE and scroll to the bottom of the page.


For further information on Furlough you can visit the government’s guidance page HERE.


More Flexible Working


In 2019 new working laws were addressed with regards to making flexible working the default unless an employer had good reason not to.


Unfortunately, this didn’t come to pass but since then flexible working has never been more current and relevant to every day working life.


As it currently stands, we do not know when this topic will be readdressed but we think it would be a good idea to make sure that this is something you are up to date with when it comes to your internal processes and policies.


If you would like further guidance on flexible working procedures, then don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing admin@whitcombehr.co.uk. We have templates and step by step processes you can implement straight away.


Minimum wage


As well as an increase to the minimum hourly rates from April 2021, the National Living Wage (which currently applies to workers aged 25 or over) will apply to employees aged 23 and over.

The new rates will be:

Age 23 or over (NLW rate): £8.91 (up from £8.72).

Age 21 to 22: £8.36 (up from £8.20).

Age 18 to 20: £6.56 (up from £6.45).

Age 16 to 17: £4.62 (up from £4.55).

Apprentice rate: £4.30 (up from £4.15).


Redundancy protection for pregnant people and those on maternity leave


The protection that someone on maternity leave currently receives is set to be increased.


There is a popular belief that someone on maternity leave cannot be made redundant however, this is not true and as you must treat all employees fairly you must include those on maternity leave in a pool with their other colleagues.


If someone is made redundant on maternity leave then they will have enhanced rights to be placed into a vacant role for which they have the skills without a competitive interview – this is where the protection will be increased.


It is expected that the new period of protection will apply from the point the employee informs their employer that they are pregnant until 6 months after their return to work.


IR35


Updates to the IR35 were delayed in 2020 due to the pandemic and rules on off-payroll working will now come into force from April 2021.


Under the new rules, the organisation engaging the contractor is responsible for determining their employment status and assessing whether IR35 applies or not. If it does, the organisation that pays the individual’s fees is deemed to be their employer for tax and national insurance purposes.


It is important that as an employer you review your contracts and make sure you have the necessary procedures in place to comply with this.


Modern Slavery statements


The government is said to be increasing the number of companies that need to produce a Modern Slavery statement. The statement will need to demonstrate the steps they are taking to combat modern slavery including operations and supply chains.


As usual companies will be required to publish their reports on a government-run reporting service and there will be a single reporting deadline.


A commercial organisation is required to publish an annual statement if all the criteria below apply:

· it is a ‘body corporate’ or a partnership, wherever incorporated or formed.

· it carries on a business, or part of a business, in the UK.

· it supplies goods or services.

· it has an annual turnover of £36 million or more.


Gender Pay Gap reporting


This applies to organisations with 250+ employees and was paused last year due to Covid-19. It is expected to make a comeback this year and you can find all the help you need on the gov.uk website: Report your gender pay gap data - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)



Other key updates that we expect might be addressed but have not been confirmed yet include:

  • Introducing an entitlement to one week’s leave for unpaid carers.

  • Allowing parents to take extended leave for neonatal care.

  • A new, single enforcement body for employment rights.

  • Passing legislation to ensure tips left for workers go to them in full.

  • A new right for all workers to request a more ‘predictable’ contract.


We hope to follow this up with a more detailed update on all of the above but in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing admin@whitcombehr.co.uk.


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