The team at Sentient wish you all the best for the next 12 months.
Sentient Group Ltd
Info Update 2020/01                                                              Issue Date: 07/01/20
Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all our readers

The team at Sentient wish you all the best for the next 12 months and beyond. We would also like to thank you for your continued readership and feedback. The comments we receive are always welcome and help us keep the content relevant.

Upcoming changes in 2020
Employment Law and HR

Of course the headline news is that in April, Workers aged 21 to 24 will receive 50p an hour more with their hourly rate rising from £7.70 to £8.20 (a 6.5% rise) while the national living wage, which applies to those aged 25 and over, will gain a rise from £8.21 to £8.72 (a 6.2% rise).

From 6th April 2020
  • Increase in holiday reference period from 12 to 52 weeks
  • Abolition of the Swedish derogation relating to pay for agency workers - the Swedish derogation gave employers the ability to pay agency workers less than their own workers in certain circumstances. The Government's Good work plan, highlighted the misuse of the derogation by some employers. The legislation banning this type of contract is intended to prevent agency workers losing out on their equal pay rights.
  • Changes to the threshold required, for a valid request to set up information and consultation arrangements under the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations, is reduced from 10% to 2% of employees. The requirement for the request to be made by a minimum of 15 employees remains in place.
  • Changes to the right to a written statement to all workers and to what should be included in the statement; this extends the right to a written statement of employment particulars to all workers (not just employees) and provides that access to a written statement will be a day one right for all workers / employees. Employers will also have to provide additional information as mandatory content for a written statement as detailed in our update 2019/14
  • Parental bereavement leave rights take effect – This provides employees with 26 weeks' continuous service for at least two weeks' paid leave at the statutory rate (other employees will be entitled to unpaid leave) following the loss of a child under the age of 18 or a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Other proposals that are on the agenda (but dates yet to be confirmed) in terms of becoming law include:
  • A promised new Employment Bill to ensure smooth Brexit take effect
  • Technical amendments to employment law
  • New legislation to ensure that tips and gratuities go to staff
  • Increase to the length of time required for continuity of employment to be broken
  • New right for workers to request a more stable contract
  • New pensions dashboard service to be introduced
  • Whistleblowers to be protected when applying for jobs in children's social care sector
  • Public-sector exit payments to be become repayable – the draft legislation provides that employees in the public sector with annual earnings of £80,000 or more must repay exit payments where they return to work in the public sector within one year of leaving.
  • Public-sector exit payments to be capped
  • Income tax personal allowance linked to national minimum wage

We will provide more detail on these changes in the coming months.

Health and Safety
Whilst health and safety core legislation has remained stable through 2019 and is not likely to change in 2020, there are important issues to mention here.

BREXIT (arghh, the ‘B’ word) – the HSE have made minor amendments to regulations to remove EU references, but on the whole the legal requirements will remain the same as they are now. Employers should continue to manage risk in their businesses in a proportionate way and maintain good standards with regard to health and safety.

Health and Safety Executive Enforcement – Their new Chief Executive, Sarah Albon, intends to maintain key focus on lung disease, musculoskeletal disorders and work-related stress whilst also looking at the future of industry and its likely effects of health and safety as the demographic of business changes, particularly in relation to the gig-economy – think Uber drivers, zero-hours contracts and internet business.

Following the Grenfell tragedy of 2017, we have been closely following developments and working with clients to ensure that they are taking all practical measures to prevent fires and keep their staff and others protected. This has, in some instances, involved a more exacting approach to fire risk assessments, fire awareness and fire marshal training, safety audits and reviews. This work will continue in 2020 and beyond, and we anticipate changes in legislation when the final recommendations of the Grenfell inquiry are published. A number of controversial issues have already been highlighted, such as the use of combustible cladding, compartmentation and the stay put policy.

Food Hygiene
Whilst there are no expected changes in legislation due in 2020, the food industry is constantly evolving, with new trends and consumer behaviours. The major focus in recent years has been food allergens and intolerances. This has produced challenges for our food manufacturing and catering clients and we already know of changes that will take place in October 2021 regarding labelling of packaged food. This is widely referred to as ‘Natasha’s Law’.

From October 2021, allergen information will have to be provided on pre-packed direct sale food to give consumers greater confidence in the food they eat. This means that foods that have been packed on the same premises from which they are being sold (e.g. a pre-packed sandwich, pies or salad made by personnel earlier in the day and placed on a shelf for purchase) must have a label containing all the applicable allergen information.

The new laws will not affect sandwiches that are made to order or have been pre-prepared but not pre-packed (e.g. those unwrapped in a display cabinet). Food businesses will still be required (as now) to provide the allergen information upon request; either in written form, or verbally, as it is expected that the customer can speak with the person who made or packed the product. Signage to that effect is required.

We will provide more detail on this when the full technical guidance is known.

BREXIT – Although there have been no specific details on trade imports to the UK from countries such as the USA when the UK departs from the EU, concerns have been raised about a number of food safety issues; such as fears over chlorinated chicken, the use of steroids in meat production (which is currently banned in the EU) and genetically modified crops.

New Sentient Website and Members' Area
We have also started the year off with a brand refresh so if you visit our website to use the members area or training pages, it will look slightly different. The functionality is the same though.

Training options
We would also like to remind you all of our training options available for your management team and employees. Please click here to visit our training pages.

HR software
We also take this opportunity to remind you of the HR software which, due to our relationship with the developers, we are able to offer to you. This online HR system is there to help you manage, store and maintain your HR interactions and files including holidays, absences, documents, staff details, appraisals, training and health and safety for your employees.

If you would like a demo, please contact a member of our team and we will arrange this for you.

That’s more than enough for now and gets the year started with a few new things. We look forward to updating you all over the next 12 months.
The advice and comment in this update is not meant to be an authoritative statement of the law. The articles and summaries should not be applied to any specific set of facts and circumstances without seeking further advice. Whilst every care is taken to ensure that the content is correct Sentient cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy of statements made nor the result of any actions taken by individuals after reading such.
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