2020 was the year HR professionals had to react to the unexpected, but now it’s time for them to plan for the known 2021 challenges, according to XpertHR. In 2021, several employment laws are being introduced and XpertHR is helping organisations to get ahead and prepare for them.
Jeya Thiruchelvam, Managing Editor at XpertHR says, “We’re supporting over 40,000 HR professionals to prepare for 2021 by giving them the knowledge they need to ensure organisational compliance with legal changes due to come into force next year”.
XpertHR is helping HR professionals prepare for seven key employment law changes.
A new immigration system
The end of the Brexit transition period will see the new points-based immigration system that was introduced earlier this month apply to European Economic Area (EEA) nationals arriving in the UK. From 1 January 2021, EEA nationals must comply with the same visa requirements as other non-UK nationals. It is essential that HR professionals understand how the new system will affect recruitment and consider whether they will need to apply for a sponsor licence. They should encourage their existing EEA employees to apply for settled or pre-settled status if they have not already done so.
Review contracts for IR35 in the private sector
Reforms to IR35 rules on off-payroll working in the private sector come into force on 6 April 2021. The aim is to reduce tax avoidance for contractors employed via personal service companies. Organisations engaging the contractor will be responsible for determining their employment status and assessing whether IR35 applies. If it does, the organisation is deemed to be their employer for tax and national insurance purposes. Employers should review their contracts and put in place the necessary procedures to ensure compliance.
A rise to the national minimum wage
On 25 November 2020, the Government announced the new national minimum wage rates to apply from 1 April 2021. For workers aged 23 or over, the rate will be £8.91 per hour (the national living wage). For workers aged 21 or 22, the rate will be £8.36 per hour. At present the age from which employees are entitled to the national living wage (the highest rate) is 25, this will reduce to 23 from 1 April 2021.
Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 31 March 2021. The Government will review the scheme in January and decide if employers should be required to contribute a proportion of employees’ wages. Employers will need to assess how any changes will impact their business and how they will respond when the scheme ends.
New rules on publishing modern slavery statements
The Government has committed to making changes to the rules on publishing modern slavery and human trafficking statements. It will be mandatory for organisations to report on certain areas when publishing their statement. The duty to publish a statement will be extended to public-sector bodies with a budget of £36m or more. It is not yet known when the new rules will come into force, but the Government has said that it will publish guidance before the end of 2020, including on best practice approaches to reporting.
Potential extension of protection for pregnant employees and new parents
The Government consulted in 2019 on extending redundancy protection for employees taking maternity leave and for other new parents. An Employment Bill was announced in the December 2019 Queen’s Speech, to include measures to extend redundancy protection to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination. However, no date has yet been set for these changes to be brought into force.
Other changes on the horizon
Other employment law developments that the Government has previously announced but not yet set out a timetable for include:
- Measures to ensure that tips left for workers go to them in full;
- A new right for all workers to request a more predictable contract;
- An increase to the length of time required for continuity of employment to be broken.
For more information and guidance from XpertHR on HR and employment issues, changes and compliance in 2021 visit: www.xperthr.co.uk