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Your guide to proposed legislation in 2018

2017 was a fascinating year for employment law with the trials and tribulations of Brexit, major newspapers exposing the BBC’s gender pay gap in the media, profound sexual harassment claims in Hollywood bringing these issues to the foreground in the UK and the so called ‘Gig Economy’ dominating the headlines. 2018 is tipped to be no different with these issues anticipated to continue in the same vein.

In this section you will find information on:

The Gig Economy

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

Settlement agreements

Employment allowance

National Minimum Wage & National Living Wage

Brexit

Grandparental leave

The Parental Bereavement Bill

The Gig Economy


The future of the ‘Gig Economy’ remains in the air as we await further clarification from the Supreme Court as to what it actually is. The BBC recently stated that ‘according to one definition, it is "a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work, as opposed to permanent jobs… taking opposing partisan viewpoints - it is either a working environment that offers flexibility with regard to employment hours, or... it is a form of exploitation with very little workplace protection.’


Whatever ‘Gig Economy’ is ultimately defined as by the Supreme Court, there are many interesting cases currently underway that will no doubt help characterise future employment law regulations. 


EAT decisions against Uber and Pimlico Plumbers, for example, have been appealed to the Supreme Court and the eagerly anticipated rulings will have far reaching implications. Other cases against Deliveroo and City Sprint, among others, are still making their way through tribunals and this could still be the tip of the iceberg.


Employment status has long been the greyest area of employment law – is someone self-employed or are they an employee or a worker? The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC)’s recent ruling that Deliveroo riders are self-employed has thrown more confusion into the arena, although it’s worth noting that this is not a binding authority. We await with interest the Tribunal ruling in the claim brought by 45 Deliveroo couriers to see how it compares to the CAC’s decision.

 

We will of course keep you updated on any important rulings. 

Gender Pay Gap Reporting


The first gender pay gap reports are due to be published in April 2018 for the payroll period including the snapshot date of 6 April 2017. Information on any bonuses paid also needs to be published at the same time for the 12-month period ending April 2017. All companies which employ 250 or more are required to publish this information. There is no obligation for companies to explain the gender pay gap, nor any duty to address it if a company is complying with the Equality Act however, as we saw when the BBC published the salaries of its top earners, there can be huge fallout and potential reputational damage where a large gap is shown with no explanation. Furthermore, the best candidates may not be attracted to working for companies with a big gender pay gap if they feel that their gender will adversely impact their career prospects.
 

Settlement agreements


Changes to the taxation of termination payments are expected to take place from April 2018. Employer National Insurance Contributions (NICs) will apply for all settlements above £30,000 whereas previously they were only subject to tax. All Payments in-lieu-of Notice (PILON) will be taxable under the settlement agreement, even if there is no specific PILON clause in the contract. Previously, tax only applied if there was a PILON clause – now it’s a case of whether or not there is such a clause.

 

Employment allowance


From April 2018, employers will not be able to claim the Employment Allowance for one year if they have hired an illegal worker, been penalised by the Home Office or exhausted all appeal rights against that penalty. From an employment law stance, this reinforces the importance of always protecting your company by ensuring that you do right to work checks at the start of each employment. On the very first day of employment the first thing an employer should do is to introduce themselves and then take a copy of their passport, visa or other document that gives them the right to work. If an employee has a visa with an expiry date, a clear diary note should be made to seek an update when the visa is coming to an end. It is no longer good enough to say that you didn’t realise a visa had expired.

National Minimum Wage & National Living Wage


Both the National Minimum Wage and the National Living Wage will continue to increase in 2018. The next rise comes into play on 1st April taking the National Living Wage up to £7.83 per hour for those over the age of 25. Companies who fail to pay the National Minimum Wage have nowhere to hide – twice a year the government publishes its ‘name and shame’ list, so it’s crucial to make sure you are fully compliant.

Brexit


While it is still too early to tell how the employment law landscape will change following Britain’s exit from the EU, it’s important for companies to stay up to speed during the transitional period. For now it is business as usual. At least until March 2019 all current laws and regulations remain in place and businesses should continue to comply with all current legislation. 


It’s undeniable that the UK landscape will alter and everyone will be affected by the change once we do leave the EU but it’s very unlikely that the UK will simply repeal all EU related law. Both the government and businesses want to avoid the legal and commercial chaos that would ensue where that to happen; instead we can expect a gradual repealing and restructuring of any laws which are less favourable to the UK.


2018 is going to be a transitional year requiring enormous negotiation and, while there are uncertain times ahead, there is certainly no need to panic. 


We will, of course, keep you up to date of any important changes you need to know about. 

 

 

Grandparental leave


It is anticipated that grandparents will be able to use the Shared Parental Leave system to help with childcare. No final details have been published but the proposed legislation may mean that a grandparent could use any untaken Maternity Leave/Shared Parental Leave that has not been used by the parents. They could also be entitled to any Maternity Pay/Shared Parental Pay that has not been used by the parents of the child. 


As this policy still at the proposal stage it’s unclear whether or not the Government will decide to pursue it or not. Flexible working requests are likely to be a more popular choice as there has not been much uptake on Shared Parental Leave since it was introduced. 

 

The Parental Bereavement Bill


The Parental Bereavement Bill is progressing through Parliament. It is currently at Committee Stage which is the most detailed part of the process, and will then need a 3rd reading in the House of Commons before going to the House of Lords. 


This Bill will entitle employees who lose a child under the age of 18 to take two weeks’ leave which will be paid at the statutory rate, if they have 26 weeks’ service. Currently, employed parents only have a day-one right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependent, including the death of a dependent. 


The Government confirmed its backing for the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill in October 2017 but it’s unlikely to take effect until 2019 or 2020.
 

 


 

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