As the New Year approaches XpertHR highlights five key employment law changes in 2020 that will impact employers and offers guidance on how they can best prepare.

Jo Stubbs, XpertHR’s global head of product content strategy, says, “It can be challenging for organisations to keep pace with their employment law obligations. With the UK’s exit from the EU now looking likely to happen on 31 January, and the free movement that we have taken for granted set to come to an end, many organisations will be focusing on engaging with their EU workers and on their ongoing strategy for recruitment and retention. However, it’s important they don’t allow some other important changes coming up in April to slip under the radar, and expose themselves to legal challenges.”

Below are the five key employment law changes:

Parental bereavement leave rights take effect

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 is expected to come into force in April 2020. This will entitle employees to a period of leave following the death of a child under the age of 18 or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service will be entitled to paid leave at the statutory rate and other employees will be entitled to unpaid leave.

Extension of the right to a written statement to all workers

From 6 April 2020, employers must give all workers (not just employees) a written statement of particulars from their first day of employment. This is a change from the current position under which employers must issue the statement to employees within their first two months of employment. Employers should begin to prepare the statements at the recruitment stage, ensuring that all the required content is included.

Increase in the holiday pay reference period from 12 weeks to 52 weeks

The reference period for the purpose of calculating holiday pay for workers with irregular hours will change from 12 to 52 weeks. From 6 April 2020, employers will need to look back over the past 52 weeks, discarding any weeks that a worker did not earn pay, to calculate their average weekly pay.

IR35 changes for the private sector

Reforms to the intermediaries legislation (IR35) in the public sector are due be extended to medium and large private-sector employers from 6 April 2020. The responsibility for determining if IR35 applies to independent contractors will shift to the organisation engaging the individual. The rules are aimed at reducing tax avoidance for off-payroll contractors employed via personal service companies. Employers should review the contracts and pay arrangements for their contractors to determine how the new rules will affect them.


With the Conservatives winning a substantial parliamentary majority in the election on 12 December 2019, it seems likely that the UK Parliament will pass the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill and the UK will leave the EU on 31 January 2020. Practical steps that HR professionals can currently take include writing to employees who are European Economic Area nationals to urge them to apply for settled or presettled status, so they can remain living and working in the UK indefinitely.

Employers can keep up to date with upcoming and recent employment law changes, and add upcoming developments to their own calendar using the XpertHR Legal timetable.

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