Employment changes from April

21 April 2020

The Government set out a number of changes to employment law in its Good Work Plan which was published at the end of 2018, some of which came into effect from 6 April 2020. Our employment team has produced a summary of the significant changes that schools should be aware of.

What has changed?

Below is a summary of the key changes that will affect the majority of employers.

Written statement of terms

All workers, rather than just employees, will now be entitled to a written statement of terms, also known as a section 1 statement.  This applies for all workers and employees joining on or after 6 April 2020.  Currently employers have up to two months to issue the statement to any employee working for them for more than a month, but from April, the right to a written statement of terms will become a day one right and must be provided to workers on or before the first day of employment. 

The information to be included in the written statement is also being expanded.  In addition to the current information that must be provided, the statement should also include details of the length of the job, eligibility for paid leave (e.g. maternity and paternity leave), any probationary period, all remuneration, the normal working hours and any training which the employee is required to complete or training which the employer will not bear the costs of.

Holiday pay reference period

The reference period for determining 'a week's pay' for holiday purposes was previously set at the previous 12 working weeks.  This has increased to 52 weeks, or if the worker has been employed for less than 52 weeks, the number of complete weeks for which the worker has been engaged. 

New parental bereavement law

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 provides bereaved parents with the right to two weeks leave (irrespective of their length of service) following the loss of a child under the age of 18, or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy to allow them time to grieve away from the workplace.  This new entitlement allows parents to choose whether they take their leave in one two-week block or in two separate blocks of one week. Those with at least 26 weeks' continuous service may also be eligible to receive statutory parental bereavement pay.

National Minimum Wage annual increase

On 1 April 2020, the National Minimum Wage rates will increase:

  • Rate for 25+ year olds (the national living wage) from £8.21 to £8.72 per hour
  • Rate for 21 to 24 year olds from £7.70 to £8.20 per hour
  • Rate for 18 to 20 year olds from £6.15 to £6.45 per hour
  • Rate for under 18 year olds from £4.35 to £4.55 per hour
  • Rate for apprentices from £3.90 to £4.55 per hour

Maternity/Paternity/Statutory Sick Pay

The same earnings related rate, i.e. 90% of the employee's normal weekly earnings, will continue to apply for the first six weeks of the employee's maternity leave.  However, from 5 April 2020, the prescribed rate for Statutory Maternity Pay after the first six weeks will increase (provided that it is lower than 90% of the employee's normal weekly earnings) from £148.68 to £151.20 per week. 

The rate for Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Shared Parental Pay, Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay and the rate for Statutory Adoption Pay after six weeks will also increase to £151.20.

As of 5 April 2020, the Statutory Sick Pay rate will increase from £94.25 a week to £95.85.

ET Compensation Limits

The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2020 is set to come into force on 6 April 2020, bringing with it changes to various pieces of legislation governing the limits on compensation which the Employment Tribunal can award. 

As of 6 April 2020, the maximum amount of a 'week's pay' for the purpose of calculating a redundancy payment increases from £525 to £538. 

The limit on the compensatory award for unfair dismissal will also increase, from £86,444 to £88,519.

What should you do?

You should ensure that school practices are compliant with the new requirements, which may include:  

  • reviewing and updating template contracts of employment for new employees;
  • implementing the new reference period for holiday pay and ensure that records of pay are accurate and fully up to date;
  • reviewing rates of pay and ensuring that you are compliant with the new NMW rates; and
  • updating your staff handbook to include a written parental bereavement policy.

For any queries regarding these topics and any other employment matters, please contact our Employment team.

Our fact sheet of the employment rates for 2020/2021 applicable from 6 April is available here.


This update is of a general nature and is not a substitute for professional advice.

No responsibility can be accepted for the consequences of any action taken or refrained from as a result of what is said.

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