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7th January 2020

2020 – Agency legislation, IR-35 And Extra Bereavement Support For Employees

As 2019 has come to a close, it’s time to look ahead to developments in employment law for 2020 and which key legislation may require consideration for your business. Watch out for the introduction of the Good Work Plan. This is a piece designed to close the ‘Swedish derogation’ loophole used by agencies for opting out of providing equal pay with permanent workforce, should agency staff have worked for the same employer for more than 12 weeks. Reforms should also improve pay for seasonal workers through extending the reference period for assessing an average weeks’ pay from 12 weeks to 52 weeks. Further, workers, as well as employees, will enjoy rights from day one to receive a written statement of terms and conditions of employment.

A recent article covered IR-35 and its extension into the private sector for 2020, the goal of the legislation being the reduction of tax avoidance for off-payroll contractors.

A welcome development is the expected implementation of the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act which entitles a parent as an employee to take time away from work should they suffer the loss of a child under the age of 18 or a stillbirth after the 24th week of pregnancy. Such bereavement cannot be comprehended; thankfully the new legislation will provide extra clarity for employers that currently work through a relatively ambiguous instruction to provide a ‘reasonable amount’ of unpaid time for an employee to deal with an emergency or a death in the family.

Details will include two weeks of unpaid leave as a day one right and following 26 weeks of service, the two weeks would qualify as paid leave at the statutory rate. The Act actually extends rights beyond parents to included primary carers, foster parents and guardians as well as individuals that may have assumed responsibility at some point, such as close relatives, family or friends. The Act may provide more flexibility than existing Company compassionate leave schemes, allowing the time to be taken up to 56 weeks from the bereavement which would then potentially encompass birthdays, prominent events or anniversaries. Supporting a colleague in a time such as this is imperative for employee engagement and can be a complicated process. The person should be able to feel safe and secure in the workplace and feelings of grief will invariably take time to subside; if handled badly they could spiral into mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. Parental bereavement is a sensitive area to address and the new legislation in 2020 provides an opportunity to consider proactive planning and design of a comprehensive compassionate leave policy to support employees and managers.

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