Employment Law: What to expect in 2020

Employment Law: What to expect in 2020

2020 is shaping up to be a year of change within employment law across England, Wales and Scotland. In this article we highlight the upcoming proposals.

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Partner, KPMG Law

KPMG in the UK


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What are the hot topics in 2020?

In addition to the upcoming changes that have been confirmed for 2020, the government is proposing a new Employment Bill, which we expect to include:

  • A single enforcement body for the labour market. The government announced proposals for a single enforcement agency dealing with non-compliance in the labour market. Its focus would be to ensure that vulnerable workers are aware of their rights and have access to them, and that businesses are supported to comply. We are currently awaiting a response to the consultation.
  • Protecting tips and service charges for workers. The government proposed legislation to require employers to pass on all tips and service charges to workers and, supported by a statutory Code of Practice, to ensure that tips are distributed on a fair and transparent basis.
  • Extending redundancy protection to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination and extended leave for neonatal care. We are currently awaiting a response to the consultation.
  • Making flexible working the default unless an employer has a good reason for upholding more defined working patterns. 
  • Brexit-related provisions. The government has indicated that the Employment Bill may contain provisions designed to safeguard workers’ rights derived from European legislation, after similar provisions were removed from the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill 2019-20.
  • Parental bereavement (leave and pay). The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018, which entitles all working parents to two weeks’ paid statutory leave if they lose a child under the age of 18 (including a still birth after 24 weeks of pregnancy), will come into force in April 2020. Secondary legislation is awaited to implement the details of the scheme. 
  • Non-disclosure agreements. In July 2019, the government published its proposals to prevent the misuse of confidentiality clauses or non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in the settlement of workplace harassment or discrimination complaints. The government reiterated that confidentiality clauses can serve a legitimate purpose in both employment contracts and settlement agreements but confirmed its intention to bring forward new legislation to delineate when use of confidentiality clauses or NDAs will be lawful. The government has stated that new requirements will be introduced for the limitations of a confidentiality clause to be clearly identified to those signing them, as well as for mandatory independent legal advice on a settlement agreement to include the limitations of any confidentiality clause. Clauses that do not follow these new rules will be void.
  • Sexual harassment. The government has launched a consultation with regards to sexual harassment in the workplace which includes proposals such as introducing a mandatory duty on employers to prevent harassment in the workplace and increasing the time limit for bringing a discrimination claim from three to six months. 
  • Ethnicity pay reporting. In 2018, the government launched a series of measures to tackle barriers facing ethnic minorities in the workplace, including a consultation on the introduction of mandatory ethnicity pay reporting, based on the model of mandatory gender pay gap reporting. A response to this consultation is still awaited.

What should employers do?

We advise that employers:

  1. Review pay compliance, particularly holiday and sick pay; 
  2. Review working relationships/arrangements with staff and consider whether there is scope for increased flexibility;
  3. Consider how employment contracts and policies might need to be updated to reflect the proposed changes;
  4. Consider voluntary ethnicity pay gap reporting to ensure data is captured reliably and to start building a strategy to address any gaps.

How can KPMG help?

KPMG advises on all aspects of employment law and provide a range of services in a practical and commercial manner. For further advice on the above, contact Donna Sharp, Director and Solicitor, Employment Legal Services at KPMG in the UK, your usual KPMG contact, or email employersclub@kpmg.co.uk

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