Changes to employment law

Brexit or not, in 2020 UK businesses will need to be ready to comply with a raft of important new changes to employment law. These changes will give employees new rights which all employers are required to follow.

Let’s look at the key changes to take effect from 6 April 2020 so you can start to prepare for them and protect your business.

Holiday pay

The method of calculating holiday pay will change with an increase to the reference period for determining an average week’s pay (for holiday pay purposes). This holiday pay reference period will increase from 12 weeks to 52 weeks or, if the worker has been employed for less than 52 weeks, the number of complete weeks for which the worker has been employed.

This change will be of importance to employers who have staff that work irregular hours and therefore earn different amounts every week. You will now need to take an average of their pay over the previous 52 weeks rather than the previous 12 weeks.

Employment contracts

The current 2-month deadline for issuing a written statement of terms to employees will now be replaced with an obligation on employers to provide a written statement to all workers (not just employees) from the first day they start working for you. There is also an increase in the amount of information that must be put into the written statement to include information on the length of time a job is expected to last, the duration of the notice period, eligibility for sick leave and pay, other rights to leave, any probationary period, all pay and benefits, and specific days and times of work.

If you fail to comply with these new obligations, workers will have the right to submit an employment tribunal claim against your business for failure to provide a written statement of terms. This could be a costly mistake, but it can be easily avoided by taking the correct steps now to prepare a new set of written terms that meet these minimum requirements.

Agency workers

New regulations are coming into force on 6 April 2020 to remove what is known as the “Swedish Derogation” from the Agency Workers Regulations. This derogation currently allows employment businesses to avoid paying agency workers the same pay as direct employees if certain conditions apply. Its removal means that agency workers will be entitled to receive the same pay as regular employees after 12 weeks of employment.

Other regulations are also being introduced to require temporary work agencies to provide all agency work seekers with a Key Information Document, which will provide information on the type of contract, the minimum expected rate of pay, how they will be paid and by whom.

New Family friendly rights

New legislation is being introduced to give all employed parents who have lost a child the entitlement to two weeks’ leave (irrespective of how long they have been employed) to allow them time to grieve away from the workplace. It will be available to take as a single block or as two separate weeks. The new right is expected to take effect on 6 April 2020 although this is subject to Parliamentary approval.

Other changes

There are likely to be increases in the National Minimum Wage together with adjustments to maternity, paternity and sick pay. You will need to keep abreast of any changes to ensure that you do not over or underpay your staff.

What to do now

The above changes are likely to increase your business costs, but steps can be taken to mitigate against some of these increased costs. As an employer you are entitled to review and change the pay and benefits you offer to your staff although this would require reasonable notice and a period of individual consultation to avoid any disputes arising. You may also want to consider limiting overtime or discretionary bonuses. Whatever you do don’t ignore these changes as compliance is essential to stay on the right side of the law and avoid a costly and time-consuming employment tribunal claim.

For further information or advice on complying with your legal obligations from 6 April 2020 call Henry Doswell of Doswell Law Solicitors on 01233 722942. Alternatively, email Henry at

Disclaimer: Whilst every reasonable effort is made to make the information and commentary contained in this blog accurate and up to date, Henry Doswell takes no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it. The information and commentary in this blog does not constitute legal advice to any person on a specific case or matter. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal advice from a lawyer about your case or matter.