FTA Law Director and Employment Solicitor, Sarah Buxton, looks at recent changes to employment laws that practices need to be aware of, the latest regarding employees who are shielding, and the Government furlough scheme…
Statutory sick pay
As of April, statutory sick payments have increased to £96.35 per week and payments in respect of maternity, the national living wage, adoption, and paternity leave have also risen.
It is really important to be aware of these changes, especially if you do your own payroll. If you’re taking on a new employee, have team members who are off sick, or will soon be taking maternity or paternity leave, just bare these changes in mind.
Maybe keep a record of all the changes handy, to assist you when you’re sorting out the next round of staff wages.
Parental bereavement leave
Over the last year, legislation was introduced that allows for a parent who has lost a child under the age of 18 to have two weeks of leave.
Under the law, the parent can take the two weeks in one go, or they can split the time, for example, by having a week off after the death of their child and the other on an anniversary, such as the child’s birthday.
This topic has been in the news again recently as the bereavement leave payments have also increased, to £151.97 per week, so that is another pay increase for practices to be aware of.
Employment tribunal compensation
One of the biggest changes over the last month was in respect of compensation levels for unfair dismissal. The amount that can be awarded in compensation following an employment tribunal has now gone up to almost £90,000.
This is an important point for you to note because, quite often, especially if you have a high-grossing associate, if they decide to make an unfair dismissal claim they can be very close to that amount being awarded to them at the tribunal.
So, if an issue regarding employee dismissal does come up, it is key that you seek advice to make sure that everything you’re doing is correct.
Statutory redundancy pay
An issue I am dealing with a lot at the moment is, unfortunately, redundancy. The Government recently increased the maximum weekly amount for redundancy pay to £544. This particularly affects employers who have made redundancies before April, as they will need to look at the pay calculations again because, with this change, a higher amount will now be due.
If you are in the position where you’re having to make redundancies, I think it is important to make sure that you have taken legal advice. Redundancy is quite a delicate issue, and a legal advisor will be able to work out the correct amount of statutory redundancy pay that may be due to an employee.
April also saw changes regarding employees who are shielding no longer being entitled to sick pay. This comes as the Government is encouraging more people to go back to work with society continuing to open up.
For those employers who have team members who are shielding, you can look for alternative opportunities that would allow them to work from home. If that’s not possible and they’re nervous about returning to work due to health reasons, then you may want to have a conversation about remaining at home on unpaid leave.
It is really important to keep the conversation open with that employee. You could also take advice from an occupational health advisor. They will be able to tell you exactly what is in the best interests of both the employee and the practice, to ensure that there are no disputes moving forward.
Lots of practices are still using furlough, or flexible furlough, and in the current climate, with some restrictions still in place within the practice, it is important to do what is right for your business.
My advice now would be to start looking at a bigger plan and other options, ahead of the furlough scheme coming to an end in September.
Also, as of July, businesses will start having to contribute 80% towards employees’ wages, so it’s a good idea to start planning ahead for when that happens, and also for when the furlough scheme comes to an end altogether.
The HMRC recently announced that it is setting up a team to look into all businesses that have claimed through the scheme during the pandemic. So, I cannot stress enough how important it is that you keep all the paperwork you have in respect to any claims that you’ve made.
If you would like any further information or advice about the changes, you can get in touch by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org