Scots firms warned not to overlook new laws on pay, holidays and redundancies

Kate Wyatt, a Partner in Employment Law at legal firm Lindsays

FROM April 1, the way in which holiday leave and pay is calculated for some will change – and there will be added protection from redundancy for those who are pregnant

New laws surrounding workers’ pay and holidays take effect next week – and an employment lawyer is urging businesses to make sure they are ready for them.

From Monday April 1, employers of part-year or irregular hours workers will have different options about how to assess holiday entitlement and pay. They take effect from holiday years starting after that date.

They are rules likely to have a significant impact on sectors such as leisure and hospitality, where staff numbers often correspond with seasonal peaks.

The holiday changes come at the same time as the new rate for the National Minimum Wage comes into force – as well as just days before new redundancy rules affecting pregnant staff.

Kate Wyatt, a Partner in Employment Law at Scottish legal firm Lindsays, is helping businesses prepare for the changes.

She said: “This spring’s raft of changes means businesses are best advised to stay on their toes and prepare for the new rules as they come into force.

“When it comes to holidays for part-year or irregular hours workers, employers will have options for calculating holiday entitlement as 12.07% of the hours worked in a pay period and rolling pay for that entitlement up as an addition to basic pay.

“These rules are complex and need careful implementation. They do not apply to regular hours workers.”

In addition, although regular hours workers will continue to see a difference in pay for the first four weeks holiday (to include commission, regular overtime pay and similar) and the remaining 1.6 (which can be paid as basic pay only), where rolled-up holiday pay is used for part-year and irregular hours workers, all holiday should be at ‘normal’ rates of pay.

At the same time, the National Living Wage increases by £1.02 per hour to £11.44.

“Significantly, that rate now applies to all workers aged 21 and over,” Ms Wyatt added.

Previously the National Living Wage rate applied to workers aged 23 and over. There are also increases of £1+ per hour to the Apprentice and Young Worker rates (up to £6.40) and the Development rate for 18-20 year olds (up to £8.60).

And from April 6, new rules come into play on redundancy-related protections for employees who are pregnant or on maternity or other family leave.

Currently, staff on maternity leave, or some other forms of family leave, whose posts are redundant are entitled to be offered available alternative employment in preference to other at-risk staff – until the period of leave ends.

Ms Wyatt explained: “Under the new rules, enhanced protection will start when an employee tells their employer they are pregnant and extend to 18 months after a child’s birth.

“Although there are some requirements to qualify, the number of staff with priority for alternative roles is likely to increase significantly.”

There will also be significant changes to flexible working from April 6.

Not only will employees have the right to request this from their first day in post – rather than after 26 weeks – but they will also have the right to make two applications in a 12-month period.

“Thinking through whether a post can be advertised as flexible will make handling early requests more straightforward,” Ms Wyatt said.

“In addition, come September, rules are expected permitting workers to request more predictable terms and conditions, where there is a “lack of predictability” over working patterns.

“Key to managing all of these changes will be a review and refresh of policies, procedures and staff training – especially for management who will be implementing the new rules – along with an update of record keeping arrangements to ensure appropriate detail is captured and retained.

“For employers planning staffing changes, an awareness of enhanced redundancy protections and an understanding of new rules among managers along with access to relevant records will be vital.”

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