If the last year has taught us anything, it’s that everything can change at a moment’s notice. And 2020 certainly brought its fair share of disruption for employers.
However there are some things we can predict. Here employment partner Julia Fitzsimmons
takes a look through six changes taking place in 2021 that may affect you.
The free movement of persons ended on December 31, 2020 and as such, a whole array of new immigration laws came into place from January 1, 2021. Now, all foreign nationals will need to look to enter the UK in the same way. In order to work legally in the UK under the ‘Skilled Worker Route’, foreign nationals will need to meet set criteria and earn at least 70 points through the system.
If you are considering employing a foreign worker, it is vital you apply for a license as early as possible.
The term furlough gained a huge profile throughout 2020, however as coronavirus restrictions begin to ease, it is expected that the government backed furlough scheme will come to an end.
In preparation, employers need to begin to consider the steps they will take when they no longer have government support, particularly if redundancies may be necessary.
Gender pay gap reports
Mandatory gender pay gap reporting was paused in 2020 due to Covid-19, however it is expected to make a return in 2021 and organisations with more than 250 employees are required to produce a report.
However, furloughed staff do not need to be included in the report, meaning that figures your business publish may not be an accurate representation of the actual situation. Therefore, you must ensure this is clearly detailed in the accompanying narrative when publishing the report.
From April 2021, large and medium organisations using contractors through intermediary companies will be responsible for assessing the employment status of each employee. These new rules mean that the responsibility to apply IR35 and pay any necessary tax and National Insurance contributions will be on the private company, agency or other third party that are paying the worker’s contracted company.
Modern Slavery statements
It is expected that the number of organisations required to produce a Modern Slavery statement will increase in 2021. Currently, public sector organisations with a budget of a minimum of £36 million are required to publish a statement. Moving forward, statements will also be needed to cover specific topics and will be published on the government registry, which is expected to launch in ‘early 2021’.
Extended protection for pregnant employees
Currently, anyone on maternity leave at risk of redundancy must be offered adequate alternative roles in advance of others, a protection rule that ends once the employee returns to work.
However, regulations are set to change meaning that this protection will commence from the date the employee notifies her employer that she is pregnant, either verbally or in writing, and protection will last for a further six-months once the employee returns to work. This extension will also be applicable to those on shared parental leave and adoption leave, but it is not yet confirmed when the new protection rules will be implemented.
We know it can be difficult to understand the various employment law changes that are coming into place this year. So, if you need additional support, please contact Julia using the details below.