KEY EMPLOYMENT LAW CHANGES – HOUSEHOLD STAFF

There are several important changes this year. Some are likely to affect households. Here is a quick summary of the key points to look out for:

1. Classification of workers. It is essential to know whether your staff are genuinely self-employed or whether they are workers or employees. In addition to previous laws and tax rules, which differ for each category, the new changes make it even more important to ensure you get this right, ideally from the start. 

2. ‘Irregular hours worker’ if you have staff whose number of paid contractual hours of work are wholly or mostly variable, or if you have a ‘part-year worker’ (someone who is contracted to work part of the year with periods of at least a week where they are not required to work and are not paid), their holiday accrual method will change. The new accrual method is calculated as 12.07% of hours worked in a certain pay period ie. per month. You will no longer be able to simply calculate their holiday entitlement as 5.6 weeks’ pa.  This will apply to holiday years beginning on or after 1 April 2024.

3. These two new types of workers can also be paid for their leave in the form of ‘rolled up holiday pay’ (providing holiday pay at the same time as basic pay) where it is calculated on the basis of 12.07% of all pay for work done in a pay period, paid at the same time as the worker is paid for the work done and itemised separately on the worker’s payslip. This will also apply to holiday years beginning on or after 1 April 2024. Moving to this method, will require contractual changes and therefore a process must be followed.

4. Industry norms governing household staff holidays are changing. Traditionally, contracts require staff to take leave when their services are not needed or when the family is away, with unused holiday days often lost without the option to carry them over. However, recent regulatory changes, in effect since January 2024, are challenging this industry norm. Under these new rules, if staff are not given sufficient notice and opportunity to use their holiday entitlement by the end of the year, they will no longer be barred from carrying it over to the next period. In such cases, staff will be able to carry over to the following year, up to 4 weeks’ leave. Also note if a worker has been miscategorised (ie. as self-employed when they were not) then they will also be able to carry over 4 weeks’ leave. Household managers may face challenges in managing this new responsibility while coordinating staffing needs around the family’s schedule.

5. Starting around September 2024, employees will gain the right to request a more predictable work pattern if their current contract lacks clarity on hours, days, or duration. For fixed-term contracts under 12 months, workers can request an extension or removal of the fixed term. Employees can bring a claim to an employment tribunal if their request is not handled reasonably or where due process is not followed. Detailed regulations are pending.

Next steps:

1. Assess your workforce to identify those affected by the new rules. Employers typically avoid specifying exact hours for household staff, opting instead for a general statement like “37.5 hours per week,” this approach could pose challenges for roles like chefs or chauffeurs who may be engaged on an ‘as-needed’ basis. Part-year workers, such as nannies or close protection, may also be impacted, as they may sometimes be hired for alternating blocks of time, like 2 months on and 2 months off.

2. Notwithstanding the fact that such arrangements already bring their own legal challenges in terms of working time and rest periods, these new rules will now require employers to scrutinise their contracts and bring their provisions in line with new legislation. You should seek advice before updating contracts, as certain procedures need to be followed before you can do so.

3. Review your household handbook to bring policies in line with the raft of new changes. Policies to be reviewed/drafted include holiday policy, right to request predictable work patterns, flexible working, family leave provisions, new carer’s leave and new duty to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.  

Due to the upcoming reforms, employers can expect an uptick in requests, leading to higher administrative burdens and associated risks. To assist you we are pleased to be able to offer:

  • Household HR training on the new rights, processes and the risks involved in failing to address the new rules – we can place you on the list for the next forum.
  • A complementary 30-minute review of your existing relevant contract or Handbook or a 30 – minute call on any employment matter relating to your household staff.

Please email Sofia Syed on sofia.syed@meum.group for more information or to book a Teams call – view availability here: https://calendly.com/sofia-syed/30min

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