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Important changes to Employment Law from April 2020

On the 6th of April this year, 3 key changes to employment legislation under the governments Good Work Plan will come into force. These changes may well have a significant impact on your Company.

These 3 changes are:

  • The right for Employees and Workers to receive a written Contract of Employment from the first day of their employment,
  • Changes to the way Annual Leave is calculated
  • Greater protection for Agency workers.

The reasons for this legislation being introduced is to strengthen the rights of workers and improve working lives.  Below we summarise what this new legislation will mean for employers.

Contracts of Employment

From April 2020, all “employees” including “zero hours workers” as well as “workers” will be entitled to receive a document setting out the key terms of their contract (known as “written particulars”) before or on their first day of work (rather than within two months as at present).

This means you will need to have in place a Standard Contract of Employment Form ready to issue to all new members of staff:

These details will be contained in a single document and need to include the following:

  • How long the job is expected to last
  • How much notice is required
  • Details of eligibility to sick leave/pay
  • Details of paid leave (maternity/paternity)
  • Details of any probationary period
  • Remuneration, including pay
  • Working Pattern – Days and times work is required
  • Any training provided which is required

You will also need to ensure that any existing Contracts of Employment are up to date as workers whose contracts do not include the required information will be able to request a revised statement of terms. 

What remains something of a grey area, is the definition of a ‘worker’.  Generally  a worker is someone who doesn’t have a contract and has the option to accept work that’s offered or not.  Whereas, an employee has a contract, has a commitment to provide a set amount of work and benefits from employment rights such as holiday entitlement and sickness pay.

Many organisations may find this a daunting task.  If so, working with you, Turnstone HR, can develop and supply you with a bespoke Contract of Employment with editable sections so that you simply and quickly fill in an employee’s details and print it off ready for signing, with the minimum of fuss.

Annual Holiday Leave and Pay

The mandatory reference period for calculating holiday pay will increase.  Employers will have to use a reference period of 52 weeks, as opposed to 12 weeks currently, when calculating holiday pay for employees who work irregular hours or whose pay varies due to overtime including seasonal, casual, zero hours workers.

This is to allow a more balanced approach for staff whose weekly working hours can differ significantly, ensuring holiday pay is a more accurate reflection of individuals’ true working patterns, This will result in a payment that balances out any peaks and troughs of working hours throughout the year.

This may represent a large cost increase to your business, particularly if you employ casual workers or have staff working irregular hours.  You will also need to consider the methods you use to monitor and meet these requirements. Which is where we can help, working with you we can look at your setup and assist you to create solutions to meet with these new requirements.

Protection for agency workers

If you currently use Agency Workers from April, after 12 weeks, they will have the right to receive the same pay and basic employment terms with comparable employees directly employed by the Company. This will apply to those employed directly or by employment agencies.  It also provides the right for an Agency Worker not to be unfairly dismissed or subject to a detriment for a reason relating to the Regulations. 

Also employers have a legal duty to provide all agency workers with a ‘Key Facts Page’. This will be in the form of a document, no longer than two A4 pages, which clearly sets out and explains:

  • The nature of the contract
  • The minimum rate of pay
  • Who is responsible for paying them

If you use an Employment Agency we would expect them to be equipped to help you comply with this key point but if you have any issues we would be only too pleased to assist

What’s coming next for the Good Work Plan?

There are also proposals, currently with no timescale, for implementation of:

  • The right for a zero hours contract worker to request a more stable contract after 6 months.
  • Clarification of employment status tests so it is clearer whether individuals are employees, workers or self-employed.
  • Increasing the period which can break continuity of employment from 1 week to 4, to make it easier for casual staff to acquire certain employment rights such as unfair dismissal.
  • Banning companies from making deductions from tips.

With April 6th not too far away, being aware of the changes that will be required and good advanced planning means this new legislation can be handled with minimal disruption or risk.

For those companies who don’t plan ahead this could prove costly. An additional change being implemented is increased penalties for employment law breaches which rise from £5,000 to £20,000.

If you feel you need any assistance with implementing these changes please get in touch with us.

“There is evidence to suggest that good HR practice and people management in SMEs are key factors in strong business performance and can lead to increased productivity.”

- CIPD people Skills Project 2017


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Cumbria LA14 4JS

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