What's Looming On The Employment Law Landscape For 2018?
Published: 28 February 2018
From a legislative and case precedent viewpoint…. it’s looking like it may be a busy one for employers.
The Gender Pay Gap reporting requirements for both public and private sector employers start shortly. Employers must have published their first reports by 30 March (public sector employers) and 4 April (private sector) using a snapshot to the end of 31 March 2017 and 5 April 2017 respectively. This presently requires compliance by private sector employers with 250+ employees and must show the difference between the mean and median hourly rates of pay and bonus for male and female employees.
Possibly related, but undoubtedly prevalent at the tail end of 2017 was the resurgence of private sector Equal Pay claims. These presently seem mainly to be focussed on large retailers and supermarkets, with group actions against Asda and Sainsbury's currently winding their way through the tribunal system and due to be heard in the first half of 2018.
On 1 April 2018, the National Living Wage for those over 25 years old will increase to £7.83.
On 6 April 2018, there will be an increase to auto-enrolment minimum pension contributions. Currently, the minimum contributions for both employers and employees is 1%, but this will increase to a 3% employee contribution and 2% employer contribution. There is then a further rise swiftly on its heels which is scheduled in April 2019, to a 3% employer contribution and 5% employee contribution.
Also from 6 April 2018, there will be additional taxation on termination payments in the form that all notice pay will be subject to tax and NICs (i.e. treated as earnings) – albeit this is subject to the Finance Bill being finalised. Presently, if an employer makes a “payment in lieu of notice” (PILON) to an existing employee, and there is no right in the employee’s contract for the employer to make such a payment then, usually the payment can be made tax free, up to £30,000. From 6 April 2018, this will change, and all PILONs (whether contractual or not) will be taxable and subject to NICs, save that the requirement for payment of employers NICs has been delayed a year until April 2019.
On 25 May 2018, the General Data Protection regulation (“GDPR”) comes into force, with significant changes to data protection in the UK and potentially huge financial liabilities for employers if they are not ready or don’t implement the legislative changes properly. The recent case involving Morrison’s supermarket (where it was found to be vicariously liable for a data breach by a disgruntled employee of the personal data of a significant number of other employees), could indicate the appetite for the enforcement of this kind of claim.
Worker rights (for the previously “self-employed contractor”) and employment status are likely to remain in the headlines as the Pimlico Plumbers case is due to be heard in the Supreme Court, and the Uber case is expected to be in the Court of Appeal (having been refused a “leap frog” appeal to the Supreme Court). There are also various other cases that remain still to be heard at Tribunal level; not least from Deliveroo riders and also an Olympian. The Matthew Taylor Report which demanded a response from the Government, and which was given by the government recently, did little in terms of providing clarification (and was described by legal commentators as a “damp squib”) instead kicked off yet more (no less than four) further consultations.
Holiday Pay could well come to the fore again following the decision of the European Court of Justice case in King v Sash Windows. Although very fact-specific, Employment law pundits are expecting new challenges to arise regarding how holiday pay entitlements are calculated, particularly in respect of the retrospective limitation – if indeed there is to remain any.
The former impediment to such claims, being the Employment Tribunal fees regime, has now been removed (as of mid- 2017). Whilst the number of Employment Tribunal claims has remained stable for the last 6 months, but is started to increase as the predicted resurgence in claims starts to occur.
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