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Key employment law changes – is your business up to date with the new rules?

The start of 2021 has seen the end of the Brexit transition period and a return to national lockdown. As such, there are several key changes to employment law that employers also need to be aware of this year.

Here, Amanda Hyam a Senior Associate with Mander Hadley, who specialises in employment law, explains how both temporary and permanent changes to employment regulations could impact businesses:

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

One of the key components of employment law during the last 12 months has been the introduction of the furlough scheme and, with England currently in lockdown, the scheme has once again come into sharp focus.

Although the scheme was set to end on 30 April 2021, in his March Budget Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a further extension to CJRS which will now run until 30 September 2021.

However, there are key differences this time. Although the level of grant available to employers under the scheme will stay the same until 30 June, after this date there will be a tapering off of the support available.

In July, the Government will only provide 70 per cent of the wage contribution, with the amount dropping to 60 per cent in August and September.

Employers should therefore start planning the steps that they need to take once the Government employment support scheme reduces and is ultimately no longer available. If redundancies are being considered, then you should seek expert advice to ensure that the correct process is followed.

Gender pay gap reporting

Compulsory gender pay gap reporting for employers with a headcount of 250 or more employees was paused during the Coronavirus pandemic last year and was expected to return in spring 2021.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has now announced that, due to the continued effects of the pandemic, enforcement action against organisations that fail to report their gender pay gap will start again on 5 October 2021.

The change means that employers have an additional six months to report their data for their 2020 snapshot date before legal action is taken.

The extension also applies to the public sector and suspends the usual publication date which would have been 30 March.

IR35 for the private sector

IR35, or the off-payroll working rules for the private sector had been pushed back from their initial April 2020 implementation date to April 2021.  Despite calls from some industry sectors for a further delay due to the economic effects of the Covid pandemic, the Chancellor did not bow to pressure and omitted to mention IR35 in his March Budget.

This means that changes to off-payroll working rules in the private sector will come into force from 6 April this year.

Eligible medium and large-sized businesses that engage contractors through a Personal Service Company (PSC) will now be responsible for assessing the employment status of those contractors.

For workers that are engaged through a PSC, the responsibility of applying IR35, and subsequently paying tax and National Insurance Contributions via PAYE will fall upon the company, third party or agent that is using the contractor’s services.

For more information about how Mander Hadley can help your business with employment law matters including redundancy, please contact us.

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