Whether your business is brimming with full-time talent or you’re a small team reliant on a mix of permanent employees and fixed-term contractors, it’s your duty to ensure employee relationships are built on the right foundations.

From the hiring process to the salary negotiations; from health and safety to promotions and pay-rises; from disciplinaries and dismissals to discrimination, there’s certainly a lot to consider. What’s more, with your schedule filled weeks in advance, keeping up to date with key changes to employment law can be a minefield. Fail to comply, however, and the repercussions could be severe.

With this in mind, we thought it best to give you the low-down on recent and upcoming changes to employment and how they might affect your business.

Pay Gap Reporting

In 2017, the Government introduced compulsory gender pay gap reporting for employers with 250 or more staff. Two years on from the landmark legislation and progress has been made to close the gap, but continued transparency is critical not only in compliance but in competitiveness for businesses who wish to uphold a strong reputation amongst employees, clients and candidates.

With the 2019 round of pay gap reports due in spring 2020, publicly listed companies with over 250 employees will be required by law to publish annual information about the potential discrepancy in pay between male and female employees. The same applies to certain public authorities including the NHS, state schools with over 250 employees, government departments and the armed forces.

Parental Rights

2019 saw the proposal of a new law which would provide pregnant employees as well as those returning from maternity, adoption or shared parental leave with redundancy protection. The proposed law states that employers forced to make redundancies would be required to offer these individuals a suitable alternative should the time come. It is further anticipated that 2020 will see the introduction of a new law that allows employees who have lost a child under the age of 18 or suffered a stillbirth to have two weeks unpaid leave. If the employee has 26 weeks’ service, this period will be paid for by the employer.

Contractors and IR35

This year, upcoming changes to the IR35 rules that govern the relationship between businesses and contractors became the subject of much speculation. To set the record straight, the 6th of April 2020 will mark the extension of IR35 rules into the private sector in a move to tackle tax avoidance for off-payroll contractors working through personal service companies.

As of April next year, it will be your responsibility as an employer to determine whether the IR35 rules apply to a contractor. These new rules will also require private sector businesses to deduct income tax and National Insurance contributions via payroll from fees for services paid to a personal service company (PSC) where the individual performing the services would, but for the PSC, ordinarily be regarded as an employee of the client company for tax purposes.

Non-Disclosure Agreements

Following on from a series of high-profile cases that brought to light employers’ misuse of confidentiality clauses in employment contracts and settlement agreements, the Government has proposed key changes that would prevent victims of harassment and discrimination in the workplace from being silenced.

The proposals include measures to stop NDAs from being used to stop information being disclosed to the police as well as legal and healthcare professionals. The Government’s proposed legislation would also ensure the limits of NDAs were set out clearly with no room for ambiguity and reinforce the need for independent legal advice to be sought prior to signing an agreement.

Employing EU Nationals

While a Brexit deal is still taking shape and the outcome is still uncertain, employers should encourage their employees of the EU who are living in the UK to apply for settled status (if they have been in the UK for 5 years or more) or pre-settled status (if they have been in the UK for 5 years or less.)

Concerned as to how these changes will affect your business? Unsure on your obligations as an employer? Preparation is the key to success and starting the new year in a strong position. Should you need expert-level cost-effective legal advice, you can call on our specialist employment lawyers to keep you on the right side of the law and allow you to focus on growing your business.  To find out how we can help, get in touch on 0333 772 0826 or fill out the short form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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