Confused by trying to follow all the latest HR updates? It’s not surprising. With frequently changing legislation, it can often feel like a full-time job just to keep up. As one of the North West’s leading HR Consultancies, People Matters HR understand the importance of keeping employers up to date with the most important information, so we’ve put together this handy guide.

Increase to the minimum wage
In April, new increases to the National Minimum Wage come into effect. These were announced last November and apply for the new tax year.

The rates are as follows:

• for workers aged 23 and over, a National Living Wage of £10.42 an hour
• for those aged from 21 to 22, £10.18 an hour
• a development rate for workers aged 18 to 20 of £7.49 an hour
• a young workers rate for workers aged between 16-17, of £5.28 an hour
• the same rate, £5.28 per hour, for apprentices

It’s really important that employers get pay right – after all, all employers are legally obliged to pay staff in accordance with the current legislation. Penalties for non-compliance can be severe: fines of up to £20,000 per employee; public listing by HMRC which can cause reputational damage; and bans on being company directors. It’s serious stuff, so make sure you take action now – and remember to check staff birthdays so you don’t get caught out.

Changes to maternity and sick pay
In great news for parents to be, statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental and sick pay is also increasing. These increases come into effect on Sunday April 2 and are as follows:

• a rise of £156.66 to £172.48 a week for the payments mentioned
• also on this date, statutory sick pay rises from £99.35 to £109.40 per week

Coronation bank holiday
In order to celebrate the coronation of the new King, an additional bank holiday has been declared. While for the majority of us, the prospect of a long weekend at the start of the summer is fantastic, for some businesses this leaves several questions.
The holiday, on Monday May 8, will be two days after the ceremony itself.

Employers need to remember that this bank holiday will be in addition to the standard annual eight bank holidays which we have each year.

As an employer, you may be wondering whether this bank holiday will apply to your employees, – and it really depends on what your terms are for bank holidays in your contracts of employment.

Contracts which refer to a specific number of bank holidays, or which contain clauses requiring bank holidays to be taken at different times of the year, mean you are not obliged to let your team have time off for the Monday after the Coronation. If you do, the time could be unpaid.

People Matters HR clients
People Matters HR clients have a very clear outline of where they stand in terms of the additional holiday, because as an outsourced HR consultancy their contracts are written for them. In a nutshell, they have the following options:

• Ignore it and treat it as a working day, so if people want to take it off, they have to book a days holiday or take unpaid leave.

• Close and ask your staff take a days holiday for that day.

• Grant them the extra day off to celebrate the Jubilee with a 3 day weekend.

As most employees will expect that they will receive this additional bank holiday and the .gov web site and holiday calculator has included it, you might want to think about your decision carefully. It is intended to be a National Celebration and although the letter of the law, in some cases, means you don’t have to allow it, the impact of not allowing it will affect your employee engagement and goodwill.

Confirmed legislative changes for 2023
The main piece of new law for small business owners to be aware of is the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022. Currently, EU law takes priority over UK law if there is a conflict between the two. This will come to an end at the close of 2023, allowing the Government to change all the EU laws we have retained since Brexit.

Of course, this has wide-reaching ramifications – so much so that there’s already some doubt over whether this new law will be postponed, perhaps until as late as 2026. There is much speculation about which employment acts will be affected, such as those regarding agency workers’ rights, Working Time Regulations and TUPE, which affects staff transferring between businesses – but for now it’s just that – speculation.

Over the coming months we’ll see more suggested changes to the law around how people are employed. It’s really important to recognise that some UK rights already go beyond what EU law requires, such as holiday entitlement and enhanced maternity leave.

Flexible working requests
In another area that is set to see changes, there is now confirmation of incoming changes around flexible working requests. Employers will need to consult about options with employees, who will have the right to make two flexible working requests within any 12-month period. Employers will have just two months to respond to these requests, in an amendment of the current the law which gives three months.

Zero hours contracts
The Government also started a consultation on how pay should be calculated for workers with irregular or zero hours contracts, following the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Harpur Trust v Brazel and Unison in July last year 2022.
The court decision brought a part-year teacher’s holiday pay into line with the Working Time Regulations 1998. However, it created an anomaly between the way that holiday pay for irregular hours workers is calculated, compared to how it is carried out for part-time workers on regular hours.

This has given rise for some concerns for employers, as it means that technically, some part-year workers are eligible to receive more holiday entitlement than part-time workers who work the same number of hours each year.

The Government’s consultation will look at how to tackle the disparity to make the system fairer for all concerned. What’s being proposed is a different method for calculating holiday pay, to try and ensure a consistent calculation for holiday entitlement while giving employers a clear and easy-to-follow method to use. In the meantime, until a time that the ruling is superseded, employers must calculate holiday pay correctly.