April is always a busy time of year for employers, and April 2019 will be no different. Here, we outline some of the key changes to look out for.
EU Settlement Scheme
The EU Settlement Scheme is intended to be fully operational by 30 March 2019. EU, EEA and Swiss citizens (and their families) will be able to apply to continue living and working in the UK post-Brexit using this scheme.
If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, the deadline for applying for settled or pre-settled status will be 30 June 2021. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, workers will need to be living in the UK by 29 March 2019 to apply, and the deadline for applying will be 31 December 2020.
It remains to be seen whether these dates will be extended, following the extension of Article 50 and ‘exit day’.
Employers should ensure that their workers have the right to work in the UK, and that they understand how Brexit will impact on that; and that staff are well supported and informed.
Gender pay gap reporting
UK employers in the private and voluntary sector with a headcount of 250 or more must publish their gender pay gap report before 4 April 2019, based on data to 5 April 2018.
Employers who have not already published their reports should now be doing so, and considering ways to mitigate any reputational damage that may result from the report.
If you have not published (or started to prepare) your report, you should take advice without delay.
There are similar reporting obligations for certain public sector employers which must also produce a report, the deadline for which is 30 March 2019.
An employee has the right to be given a written, itemised pay statement by their employer. From 6 April 2019, this right will be extended to workers.
Guidance, including in relation to which information should be provided, can be found on the government website.
National Minimum Wage
As of 1 April 2019, the National Minimum/Living Wage will increase to:
- £8.21 for workers of 25 years and over
- £7.70 for workers between the ages of 21 and 24
- £6.15 for workers between the ages of 18 and 20
- £4.35 for workers under the age of 18
- £3.90 for apprentices under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship
Failure to comply comes not only with financial risk, but also huge reputational damage. In addition to a worker’s right to enforce NMW entitlement, HMRC also has enforcement powers (including naming and shaming, financial penalties and criminal offences in some cases).
Statutory payments and limits
There will also be increases to statutory payments:
- Statutory sick pay will rise to £94.25 per week from 6 April 2019
- Statutory maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental pay will rise to £148.68 per week from 7 April 2019
As of 6 April 2019, the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will rise to £86,444. The maximum amount of a week’s pay, used to calculate statutory redundancy payments and the basic award in some tribunal awards, will rise to £525.
Employers of all sizes should be taking steps to ensure compliance with the changes coming into force in April. Since the abolition of employment tribunal fees, tribunal claims have increased by 165%.