Employment Law Update 2017

How will leaving the EU or Brexit will affect our lives generally and how will it affect our employment laws?

Clearly U.K. Employment Law is so closely interwoven with EU Law and the U.K and has been bound over many years to implement EU Directives into local legislation that it would prove a difficult and time consuming exercise to unravel.

Yet there is no doubt that much of EU law is manifestly unpopular in the U.K with business owners, in particular the Transfer of Undertakings Regulations which have kept the courts and employment lawyers busy for over 30 years and would not be missed if they were scrapped or modified. Similarly the Agency Worker Regulations which are so complicated that there would be a collective sigh of relief is they were dropped from our statute books.

Other legislation like the Equality Act 2010 and discrimination laws are unlikely to be repealed as they reflect the opinions of the time. Some of the more unpopular provisions have already been removed for example the Discrimination Questionnaires.

We have been obliged for many years to follow the law of the European Union in two ways, firstly as set out above by implementation of European Directives and secondly through the case law coming from the European Court of Justice.

There are no immediate plans to change the legislation but there is no doubt that there will be changes in the future.

In terms of recruitment, employers are advised to monitor the number of EU nationals working in the company and be aware that policies relating to immigration, although not likely to change in the immediate future, will change within the next two years.

Key Changes in 2017.

1.National Living Wage

The National Living wage increases to £7, 40 per hour for those aged 25 and over and £7.05 per hour for those aged between21-24

2.Gender Pay Differences

By April 2017 the Equality Act will require companies of 250 employees will now be required to publish details of gender pay gaps

There is reportedly a 9.4% gender pay gap which means that women effectively work free.

Under the new rules companies must publish a snapshot of salaries and bonuses across six key metrics and publish information about the gender pay gap within 12 months of the Regulations coming into force.

3.Trade Union Act

The new Act reforms the rules on trade union ballots for taking part in industrial action.

Key provisions of the act are as follows:

-At least 50% turnout for there to be a valid ballot on industrial action

-A threshold of 40% support from all members or order to take industrial action in key sectors

-A four month time limit for which the ballot will remain valid to authorise industrial action

4.Shared parental leave for Grandparents

The government aims to share parental leave by extending it to grandparents The aim is to introduce this by 2018

5. Strategy to increase the role of older people in employment

Department of Work and Pensions (“DWP”) have produced a Fuller Working Lives Strategy designed to encourage older people to remain in work for longer

6.Immigration Skills Charge Regulations 2017

From April 2017, those employers who sponsor skilled workers under Tier 2 of the points based system will have to pay £1000.00 per certificate.

7.Gross negligence can amount to gross misconduct

In the recent case of Adesokan v Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd the CA confirmed that the actions of a Regional Manager in failing to intervene to stop an email sent by HR which attempted to interfere with a confidential consultation exercise was so serious to amount to a breach of trust and confidence even though his actions had not been deliberate.

8.There is to be an Apprentice Levy

The Government have set a target of three million apprentices by 2020. The Apprenticeship levy is a way of providing funding for this initiative. The burden for this is placed upon on large employers who have a pay bill of £3 million or more.

The levy will be 0.5% of their NIC bill to invest in apprenticeships less an annual  allowance of £15,000.

9.General Data Protection Regulations

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in May 2018 and will have a significant impact on how employers manage their data. Employers will be required to carry out audits of employees’ personal data which they collect and process to ensure that it meets the General Data Protection Regulations. The Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) have produced a booklet to assist employers

Preparing for General Data Protection Regulations-12 Steps to take Now

Processing data

Generally employees will give consent in their employment contract to limited data being processed within the scope of their employment. This would not include consent to process sensitive data e.g. an employees’ religion or political beliefs for example.

The new regulations focus on the topic of consent and confirms this must now be specific, informed and unambiguous. Bundled consent or consent wording that is too general to enable individuals to know what is planned is not sufficient to allow employers to rely on that consent in order to process personal data.

Subject Access Requests

The new regulations enhance the employees’ rights to data held by their employer. They are now entitled to more detailed information, a reduced time limits for the employers’ response and abolishment of the £10.00 mandatory fee and employers must give reasons for failure to comply.

However, when requests are complex the time for compliance may be extended for up to three months and if they are unfounded or excessive employers may charge a reasonable fee. This must be explained to the employee within the first month.

10.Stress Guide

The TUC has produced a new guide in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive.

11.Family Friendly Allowances

SSP will be increase to £89.35

SMP will be increased to £140.98

The date of implementation is April 2017

12.Challenge to Employment Tribunal Fees

On the 26/27th March 2017 the Supreme Court heard Unison’s challenge to Employment Tribunal Fees. Unison was unsuccessful in the Court of Appeal but if the Supreme Court overturns that decision then it is likely to open the flood gates once more to multiple Employment Tribunal claims which have dramatically decreased since the mandatory introduction of fees.

Judgement is expected within 6 months.

If you have questions about any of these issues or anything else related to employment law, please contact lynne.burns@lburnslaw.com