Future employment law changes for HR professionals – what should you know?

23 Apr 21 by Charlotte Ashton
Employment law changes

You could be forgiven for thinking that, following the turbulent year of 2020 and the effect of the Covid crisis on the government’s legislative plans, 2021 might be a period of relative calm. However, there are still developments which HR professionals need to consider in the coming months.

Our senior solicitor, Charlotte Ashton, explores three key areas of focus for organisational leaders…

1. Changes to the furlough scheme

Since its inception in April 2020, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has frequently undergone changes and extensions. The scheme has been extended again until the end of September 2021 and, from 1 July 2021, the amount of support will start to reduce. That means employers will be able to reclaim 70% of wages during July, and 60% during August and September.

For organisations unable to bring all employees back to work from furlough, they may need to plan for redundancies – including collective consultations. HR professionals need to be fully aware of the changes to the CJRS and their options for how to deal with employees as the scheme draws to a close. Additionally, they should ‘expect the unexpected’ and watch out for extensions in response to Covid developments.

2. The reintroduction of gender pay gap reporting

Action against employers who failed to report their gender pay gap was suspended due to the coronavirus crisis, however, this will resume from 5 October 2021 – employers therefore need to be aware of their duties.

Organisations with 250 or more employees were due to report their gender pay gap either by 30 March for public sector employers, or by 5 April for private sector employers. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has the power to investigate employers who fail to report their gender pay gap data and can take action against them – which could lead to unlimited fines after court action.

3. New right to work guidance

Employers are required to check that any new employee has the legal right to work in the UK before they start work. Until 30 June 2021, employers can continue to use EU and EEA identity documentation – such as national ID cards or passports – as proof of right to work, despite Brexit and the end of the transition period.

From 1 July, employers will be required to ensure that EU or EEA citizens have the correct ‘right to work’ documentation which would either be via proof of settled status, a valid visa, or some other evidence of their status in the UK. It is vital employers know that EU and EEA identity documents will no longer be acceptable for new hires.

Fully updated guidance is still to come from the government and will be important for managers to review and ensure their right work practices are compliant. Failure to carry out correct right to work checks can result in an employer being fined £20,000 per employee if they do not have the necessary proof concerning an individual’s legal right to work.

As the current reactionary environment simmers and the Covid crisis becomes more manageable, it is expected that the government will return to providing legislation updates for HR professionals and their organisations to follow. We anticipate this will make for some interesting changes to come, all of which we can provide guidance on. If you require further assistance, let’s talk!


We are the HR and employment law experts from ESPHR.

It’s our mission to advise and develop the employment law capability of HR professionals wherever we can, helping HR teams make a real commercial difference to their organisations. That way, you spend less time solving operational issues and more time actioning projects that drive far-reaching change in your company.

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Post by Charlotte Ashton

Senior solicitor, ESP Law Ltd

Charlotte has over 10 years’ experience in all aspects of employment law. She trained in-house with a large UK company, covering 45,000 employees, and moved to private practice on qualification. Charlotte enjoys helping growing companies understand their legal obligations and has given training and presentations to start up entrepreneurs, and business students, at a local University. Charlotte also specialises in business immigration law for the UK and has helped employers obtain sponsor licences in order to recruit from outside the UK.