In a break to the usual In the Loop fare, this month the Peninsula legal team has curated a list of the three biggest employment law changes hurtling towards us.
But before we dig in, be aware that the changes will affect only certain companies, so here’s a quick summary:
• Childcare voucher scheme (businesses with an employer-led scheme)
• ‘No deal’ Brexit guidance for employers (businesses that employ EU nationals)
• Modern slavery statements (businesses with a turnover of £36 million and up)
If you think your business will be affected, keep reading to get the lowdown on what’s ahead.
Childcare voucher scheme
Changes to funding of childcare mean that the employer-led childcare voucher scheme will no longer be open to new applicants from 4th October 2018.
Employers who offer the voucher scheme as a benefit may continue to operate it for anyone who is in the scheme by 4th October, meaning that current employee participants will see no change to their arrangements.
However, the scheme cannot be offered to any new starters or existing staff who are not already receiving vouchers, from 4th October.
Those not already in the existing scheme by that date will instead be able to use the new Tax-Free Childcare scheme, under which they will pay money into an online account and the Government will contribute up to a total of £2,000 per child, per year.
Companies that offer the employer salary sacrifice scheme need to amend their policies with effect from the cut-off date.
Peninsula can assist with appropriate documentation for employees who wish to join the existing scheme before the cut-off point, as a formal change to terms and conditions is required.
‘No deal’ Brexit guidance for employers
Although negotiations on the Brexit deal are ongoing, the government has released official guidance on workplace rights if a deal isn’t reached between the UK and the EU.
The guidance confirms that after 29th March 2019 if there isn’t a deal in place:
• All current EU employment law rights will be copied into domestic UK laws.
• Areas where UK law continues to exceed EU law, such as holiday rights, will continue to apply.
• Minor changes will be made to the language of employment laws to reflect that the UK will no longer be an EU country.
The government is providing clarity that even if there is a ‘no deal’ Brexit, employment rights derived from the EU will continue to be the same on the day before and the day after the exit. This impacts key areas including working time rules, discrimination and agency worker rights. Continuity of rights will reassure employers who have to stay legally compliant and UK, EU and non-EU workers who wish to understand how their individual rights will be affected.
There are potential areas of impact in current schemes for redundancy-related payments where individuals work in an EU country for a UK employer which goes insolvent after the exit, and to organisations with current European Works Councils in place.
The Home Office has also confirmed that trial applications for EU Settled Status have commenced from EU nationals who are currently working in the UK and are applying for clearance to remain post-Brexit. The scheme is expected to open in “Autumn 2018” and be fully operational by 30th March 2019.
Peninsula can help you to keep your EU workers up to date with what Brexit means for them and their employment with you.
Modern slavery statements
For many organisations with a financial year running from April to March, the end of September will be the deadline to publish this year’s updated modern slavery statement.
Having first been introduced as a requirement under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, organisations with an annual turnover of at least £36million are required to publish a statement each year within six months of their financial year end.
Statements should build on those from previous years and detail the efforts made by employers in the last twelve months to guard against modern slavery, both in their organisation and their supply chain.
Although this is not an obligation for smaller firms, many voluntarily decide to produce a statement, recognising this as an important tool for business relations as it may be a required element when tendering for work.
Peninsula has a template modern slavery statement that clients can amend to suit their situation.
Recently, the Government announced it would undertake a review of the Act, which may include changes to the required content of the statement.