8th January 2019

INFORMATION UPDATE

 Issue No.  2019/01

 Sentient
              

 

2019 - WHAT'S IN STORE?

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR
As we start 2019, we are kicking off our Information Updates with an overview of some of the things on the horizon for 2019 and beyond.

 

THE ‘B’ WORD
Let’s get the ‘B’ word out of the way first.  Obviously, we mean Brexit!  The reality is no one really knows what is going to happen after 29th March when we leave the EU with, or without a ‘deal’.  Is the world going to end?.........we suggest there is more chance of winning the National Lottery!

But obviously, a ‘deal’ or a ‘no deal’ (br)exit, will have some impact (positive or negative) upon goods and services and could impact organisations and future employment – let’s hope that job losses can be avoided, and that any negative impact of Brexit is as minimal as possible.

 

STATUTORY PAYMENTS INCREASE - APRIL 2019

 

Current weekly rate

New
weekly rate

Effective from

Maternity/Paternity/Adoption 

£145.18

£148.68

07/04/19

Sick pay

£92.05

£94.25

06/04/19

Lower Earnings Threshold

£116.00

£118.00

06/04/19

National Living Wage

 

 

 

Workers age 25 and over

£7.83

£8.21

01/04/19

National Minimum Wage

 

 

Workers aged 21-24

£7.38

£7.70

01/04/19

Workers aged 18-20

£5.90

£6.15

01/04/19

Workers ages 16-17

£4.20

£4.35

01/04/19

Apprentice rate

£3.70

£3.90

01/04/19

 

AUTO-ENROLMENT – CONTRIBUTION INCREASE
This table shows the minimum contribution levels and the date when they must increase: 

Date

Employer minimum contribution

Employee contribution

Total minimum contribution

Until 5 April 2018

1%

1%

2%

6 April 2018 to 
5 April 2019

2%

3%

5%

6 April 2019 onwards

3%

5%

8%

The amount you and your employees pay into your pension scheme will vary depending on the type of scheme you have chosen and the rules of that scheme. You can find this information in the scheme documents or you can speak to your pension provider. 

In our experience, most SMEs use AE pension schemes that currently require a total minimum of 2% contribution to be paid. The calculation for this type of scheme is based on a specific range of earnings. The government has confirmed the qualifying earnings bands for 2019/20 tax year, following its annual review, to be between £6,136 and £50,000 a year. 

By law a total minimum amount of contributions must be paid into the scheme. You, the employer, must make a minimum contribution towards this amount and your employee members must make up the difference. If you decide to cover the total minimum contribution required, your staff won’t need to pay anything. 

The employee contribution rate may vary depending on the type of tax relief applied by your scheme. If you are unsure check your scheme documents; or speak to your pension provider. 

 

EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL - FINANCIAL PENALTIES
Employment tribunals have the power to impose a financial penalty against employers that are found to have breached a worker's employment rights where there are “one or more aggravating features”. 

The amount of the penalty will normally be 50% of the award, subject to a minimum of £100, and this financial penalty is payable to the Government.  

Currently:

the maximum level of financial penalty is £5,000. 

New:

the maximum level of penalty increases to £20,000 (w.e.f. 6th April 2019).

So what is an ‘aggravating feature’? The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act guidance note confirms that it will be for tribunals to decide, taking account any factors, it considers relevant, such as the facts of the case, and the employer’s circumstances.  

There has not been any reported cases, providing any guidance, but some commentators suggest the following factors may amount to an ‘aggravating feature’: action was deliberate or committed with malice; employer is an organisation with a dedicated human resources team; employer has repeatedly breached the employment right concerned. 

Similarly, some commentators suggest that a Tribunal may not find 'aggravating features' where the employer: has only been in operation for a short period of time or is a micro business; has a limited human resources function; made a genuine mistake in committing the breach; or is in formal insolvency proceedings and the imposition of the financial penalty would reduce the monies available to satisfy creditors or adversely affect the sale of the business as a going concern.

 

AND WHAT’S IN STORE FOR 2020?
The following changes are scheduled to come into force on 6th April 2020: 

Calculation of Holiday Pay

Currently:

It is now well established that when pay varies each week due to the number of hours worked (including overtime), or due to working piece rate or due to receiving bonuses or commissions etc, when calculating a week’s pay for holiday pay purposes, an employer would have to take an average, based over the previous 12 weeks. 

New:

Instead of calculating an average over the previous 12 weeks, you will calculate an average over the previous 52 weeks. 

 

Written Statement of Terms and Conditions of Employment

Currently:

The written statement of employment particulars (what is commonly referred to as a ‘Principal Statement’) must be issued within 2 months of commencing employment;

New:

The Principal Statement must be given on or before the first day of employment.

Interestingly, the Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 provides that with effect from 6th April 2020 the right to a Principal Statement must be given not just to ‘employees’ but also to ‘workers’! 

 

Information and Consultation

Currently:

Under the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations (ICE) the employees have the right subject to certain conditions, to request an ICE agreement that sets out arrangements to inform and consult them about issues in the organisation. These Regulations only apply to businesses with 50 or more employees. The requirement to inform and consult employees does not operate automatically. It can only occur if the employer instigates an ICE agreement, or by a formal request from 10% of all employees, subject to a minimum 15 employees and maximum 2,500 employees, as the case may be.  

New:

The change is that instead of 10%, only 2% of employees will be required to request an ICE agreement, but it is still subject to the minimum 15 employees or maximum 2,500 employees.

 

Agency Worker Regulations (AWR)

Currently:

The AWR entitle agency workers to get the same basic pay and conditions as comparable employees after a 12-week qualifying period. However, the Swedish derogation - so called because it was introduced into the regulations at the request of the Swedish government - provides an exemption from this as far as pay is concerned; it does not affect agency workers' entitlements to other provisions under the regulations such as annual leave after 12 weeks, 'day-one' rights and rest breaks.

To be able to rely upon the Swedish derogation, the temporary work agency (TWA) offers an agency worker a permanent contract of employment and pays the worker between assignments. It has to be made clear to the worker that entering into the contract means giving up the entitlement to equal pay. A 'zero hours' contract does not count as a derogation contract.

New:

The Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2018 abolishes the Swedish Derogation for agency workers.


 

 

 

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The advice and comment in this update is not meant to be an authoritative statement of law. The articles and summaries should not be applied to any specific set of facts and circumstances without seeking further advice. Whilst every care is taken to ensure that the content is correct Sentient cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy of statements made nor the result of any actions taken by individuals after reading such.

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