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Five HR changes to watch out for in 2021


After a turbulent 2020, in which many HR professionals had to call upon new skills and completely transform their processes, the team behind disruptive HR tech platform caseflowhr has pulled together five changes to watch out for to support planning in 2021.

  1. Mental health
  2. IR35 legislation
  3. Brexit and immigration
  4. Coronavirus Job Retention System (furlough)
  5. Pregnancy and maternity discrimination

With so many changes on the horizon, it is no wonder that many HR teams are looking for support. Indeed, getting employee relations (ER) wrong can have significant impact on morale, culture, productivity, and even the bottom line. The new caseflowhr platform has been designed on the back of transformational, bot-driven technology to provide guided pathways for HR teams through both simple and complex ER cases.

Greg Hartigan, Co-founder and Managing Director of caseflowhr, comments: “HR professionals are being called upon to support workforces which have been through unprecedented times. Already under pressure to do more with less, they will need to step up and provide unheard-of levels of individual and team support, as well as managing significant cultural change. Getting out from under mountains of admin and engaging with the people in the business will be essential. Caseflowhr has been designed by HR professionals for HR professionals.”

Mental health 

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 will, of course, have physical health implications on our workforces, but the unknown long-term mental health impact is likely to present a huge need for proactive and sensitive responses from HR and people management teams.

The Centre for Mental Health predicts that up to 10 million people (20% of the UK population) may need new or additional mental health support because of the pandemic. Research from the Mental Health Foundation in November 2020 suggests almost half of the UK population had felt anxious or worried in the previous two weeks.

HR professionals will need to consider workplace culture and how to support workforces that have been fundamentally changed by the pandemic.

IR35 legislation 

Already familiar to those in the public sector, the off-payroll regulations will be rolled out to private sector organisations in 2021. There was a brief reprieve due to COVID-19; however, organisations will need to get their employment contracts in order to ensure they are behaving appropriately when it comes to tax for individual contractors employed via personal service companies.

Brexit and immigration 

Employers should encourage existing team members from the European Economic Area to apply for settled or pre-settled status if they have not done so already. The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021. There are also implications for recruitment following the introduction of a new points-based immigration system in the UK on 1 January 2021, with individuals moving to the UK for work required to pay for a visa, as well as a healthcare surcharge. 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) 

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended to 30 April 2021, allowing employers to claim 80% of an employee’s salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. Employers can furlough employees for any number of hours and work pattern but will need to understand the implications for National Insurance and pension payments. While the scheme will be reviewed again as it nears the end date, organisations need to consider how they will respond to either further extensions or the scheme coming to an end.

It is also worth noting that April 2021 will also see changes to the National Living Wage, National Minimum Wage, and Statutory Sick Pay come into force. All of these will have implications on organisations’ wage bills. A wider COVID-19 economic support budget is also scheduled for 3 March 2021.

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination 

The Employment Bill introduced in the Queen’s Speech in December 2019 included a reference to extending the redundancy protection rights for pregnant employees and new parents, as well as making flexible working the default position. Timings for these consultations are still to be confirmed. However, it is likely that employers will need to continue to approach flexible working and redundancy with sensitivity and an awareness of the context of COVID-19, while preparing for any further changes.

How caseflowhr can help

HR technology is becoming an essential feature of organisations, filling in the communications and operational gaps created by the pandemic, remote working, and increasingly dispersed workforces. Caseflowhr combines employment law expertise with the skill of an employee relations (ER) practitioner to create an on-demand digital employee relations specialist that is both disruptive and transformative, freeing up time for HR professionals to put the people back into people management. 

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