Employment law changes to look out for in 2021

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You don’t need us to tell you that 2020 and the start of 2021 has been a challenging time for employers and employees alike. From furlough to ensuring businesses are Covid safe, there’s been a lot of employment law changes to stay on top of.

Looking at 2021, there are more upcoming employment law changes to be aware of. Our employment law solicitors explain what employers and employees need to know.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme enables employers to ‘furlough’ employees, and has been a lifeline for business owners and employees during the Covid-19 pandemic. The furlough scheme was due to end on 30th April 2021, however, as part of the 2021 budget, it has been extended until 30th September 2021.

Employers must remember that from 1st July, they are expected to pay 10% towards the hours employees do not work. This increases to 20% in August and September.

Remember, in order to claim for furlough, the employee must have been entered onto the pay roll on or before the 30th October 2020. You can read more about the CJRS in our coronavirus FAQs here.

National Minimum Wage increase

From 1st April 2021, the National Minimum Wage rises to £8.91 per hour, and more young workers will become eligible as the age threshold is lowered to 23. The apprentice rate also rises to £4.30 an hour.

One to watch: sleep-in shifts

The Supreme Court decision in Royal Mencap Society v Tomlinson-Blake took place on 19th March 2021.

The judgment concluded that social care staff are not entitled to the national minimum wage for every hour they work​, including sleep-in shifts. UNISON are now pushing for a change in the law so that sleep-in shifts count as working time.

Business immigration

Brexit brought an end to Freedom of Movement for the UK. We now have a points-based immigration system which applies to non-UK and Irish Nationals and they will need to be sponsored by a UK employer. Employers need to obtain a licence from the Home Office to enable them to sponsor employees.

EU nationals who arrived in the UK by 31st December 2020 can apply for settled or pre-settled status. The deadline for applications is 30th June 2021.

Redundancy protection for pregnant employees

Currently, those who are on maternity leave and are at risk of redundancy must be offered suitable alternative roles in advance of other employees. This protection ends once the employee returns to work.

Future changes in employment law mean that this protection will now start from the date the employee informs her employers that she is pregnant. They will be protected for a further six months after they return to work. This will also apply to those on adoption leave and shared parental leave.

Gender pay gap reporting

From 4th April 2021, private and voluntary sector employers in England, Wales and Scotland with at least 250 employees are required to publish details on any differences in pay and bonuses between their male and female employees.

Employers have until 5th October 2021 to report their 2020/21 figures.

Modern Slavery Statements

There are plans to increase the number of companies that need to produce a Modern Slavery Statement, in which employers will be required to set out the steps they are taking to combat modern slavery. This not only includes an employer’s own operations but those of any supply chains, too.

There is not yet a set date for when these plans come into place. Our employment law solicitors will provide an update as and when the date is published.

Contact our employment lawyers in Bristol and South Gloucestershire

To speak to one of our employment law solicitors for advice on how these updates might affect you as a business owner or employee, call us on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.


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