2021- The year ahead
As we have said goodbye (and good riddance) to 2020, we now turn our attention to what lies ahead for 2021.
In this article we look at upcoming/proposed legislative changes which employers need to be aware of as well as hot topics to keep an eye on.
Immigration rule changes & EU Settlement Scheme
- Effective from 1st January 2021 is the points-based immigration system for those arriving in the UK on or after 1st January 2021.
For more information, please visit here
- EU Workers already resident in the UK as of 1st December 2020, have until 31st June 2021 to apply for Settled Status to allow them to remain living and working in the UK.
For more information, please visit here
National Living Wage increases
Minimum wage increases are rolled out at the start of every new tax year; however, this year sees a change to the age bands which may escape the immediate notice of a lot of employers.
As you will see from the table below, the upper minimum wage rate will now apply to those aged 23 and over, whereas currently it applies to those aged 25 and over.
These rates come into effect in April 2021.
|Rate from April 2020
||Rate from April 2021
|National Living Wage
|21-22 Year Old Rate
|18-20 Year Old Rate
|16-17 Year Old Rate
Statutory Family Related Payment Increases
Statutory Maternity, Paternity & Adoption Pay increases to £151.97 per week on 4th April 2021.
Statutory Sick Pay increase
Statutory Sick Pay increases to £96.35 on 6th April 2021.
End of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
Just a reminder of the basics of the scheme- you can claim 80% of an employee’s usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month and you can claim for employees who were employed on 30 October 2020, as long as you had made a PAYE RTI submission to HMRC between 20th March 2020 and 30th October 2020. (GOV.UK)
The CJRS was extended by the government on 17th December 2020 to the end of April 2021.
This extension was granted prior to the third round of national lockdowns currently in place across the UK, so it may be that the scheme will be extended or adapted in some way to continue to offer much needed support to struggling businesses and those who are unable to continue to work.
As always, we will continue to keep our clients updated on any new developments as and when they arise.
The following are proposed legislative changes for the year ahead or new legalisation whose consultations are due to end this year:
Unpaid Leave for Carers
The government has extended the consultation period for the proposals to introduce a week of additional unpaid leave for those employees with caring responsibilities.
As this is still at consultation stage, we do not know the specifics in terms of how eligibility will be established and so on but with the increasing pressure on carers due to the pandemic, this is definitely one to watch.
Neonatal Leave & Pay
Parents of babies who are admitted into hospital as a neonate (28 days old or less) will be eligible for neonatal leave and pay if the admission lasts for a continuous period of seven days or more.
It is thought that parents will be entitled to this from day one of their employment and will be entitled to up to a maximum of 12 weeks, taken in blocks of one or more weeks.
This is not expected to be introduced until 2023/2024
The Pregnancy and Maternity (Redundancy) Protection Bill 2019-21
Currently an employee at risk of redundancy who is on maternity leave has the right to be offered any suitable alternative employment vacancy available.
Put simply this means that if someone on maternity leave is at risk of redundancy, they will be given suitable alternative employment without having to be put through any kind of selection process such as interviews or scoring criteria.
This protection currently applies only to those on maternity leave, not to pregnant employees and this protection ends on their return to work.
If the Bill is passed it will prevent redundancy during pregnancy and maternity leave as well as for a period of six months after the employee returns to work. There will be exceptions to this of course such as when a company is closing down.
The Bill is due before Parliament in the next few months and if introduced will have a huge impact. More details on this will follow in due course.