Kate Brooks
Partner, Solicitor & Head of Employment/HR Services
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Date Published:18 Dec 2020 Last Updated:10 Apr 2021

Key Changes to Employment Law in 2020

Employment Law Advice

Employment law is constantly evolving especially given this year’s events. It is therefore of upmost importance that employers are aware of the changes that have taken place this year/those that are due to come into force in 2021.

We have summarised the key topics and changes to employment law this year as follows:

Job Retention Scheme

The Chancellor has announced that the Job Retention Scheme will be extended until 30 April 2021. We are expecting a full review of the scheme in January. You can claim up to 80% of an employee’s wages for hours not worked (capped at £2500). You cannot place employees on furlough just for holiday periods; your operations must be impacted by covid to use furlough; and you cannot claim furlough for notice periods.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Brexit

With the Brexit trade deal deadline looming, it is extremely important that businesses and employers are prepared for changes that will take place in the new year.

Whilst we do not see that there will be immediate impact with regards to EU law, it is important that employers review their contracts and policies to check for references to EU law and consider whether any changes are necessary.

In addition, businesses should review the regulatory agencies that they work with to consider whether any changes are necessary to the way in which they work together under Uk and EU regulations.

Statutory minimum wage increase

From 1 April 2021 the national living wage will increase from £8.72 to £8.91 per hour for workers aged 23 and above. Employers should ensure that their employees/workers’ pay reflects this change.

Collective redundancies

Collective consultation obligations apply where an employer proposes to make 20 or more dismissals within a period of 90 days at one establishment.

The European Court of Justice has recently held that in deciding whether the threshold for collective consultation is triggered, the reference period must be calculated taking into account any period of 30 or 90 days during which individual dismissals took place. This means that employers must look at back and forward from an individual dismissal to ascertain whether there are 20 or more proposed dismissals. This therefore takes into account those employees in respect of whom consultation has already begun (instead of focusing on proposed dismissals only).

As we are in the transition of leaving the EU, we are still bound by decisions of the ECJ however, this effect of this judgment on our UK employment law will be dependant on Brexit and on the UK’s approach to EU case law.

Section 1 – written statements

As of 6 April this year, it is a requirement for employers to provide all workers and employers with a written statement of terms from day 1 of employment under section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. Employers must therefore ensure that all workers receive this as well as employees.

Consultation on post termination and exclusivity clauses

Consultation on whether these clauses should be banned in contracts of employment is open until February 2021. There is also specific consultation on whether if these clauses are permitted, whether employers should be required to pay compensation for the period of any restrictions i.e. if there was a non-compete clause for 6 months after employment terminates, whether the employee would be paid for this period.

Our experienced employment department is always happy to assist you in relation to any HR or employment matters. To get in touch, please call 01202 525333 or email our employment partner, Kate Brooks at kate.brooks@ellisjones.co.uk