What does 2016 have in store with regards to Employment Law?
Well employers will see key employment law changes affecting pay, including the new national living wage, reporting requirements around gender pay gaps, and new rules on exit payments for public-sector workers. Other reforms include amended rules relating to trade unions, new rules on apprenticeships and Regulations addressing avoidance of the ban on exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts.
Below is a summary of key legislation dates:
Redress for workers punished for breaching exclusivity clause
Regulations come into force on 11 January 2016 to enable workers who suffer a detriment or are dismissed as a result of breaching an exclusivity clause in a zero hours contract to make a complaint to an employment tribunal.
Gender pay reporting details revealed
Regulations must be introduced by 26 March 2016 that will require employers with 250 or more employees to publish information about their gender pay gaps.
National living wage introduced
A new compulsory national living wage, which works as the top rate of the national minimum wage, is introduced on 1 April 2016 for workers aged 25 and over.
Duty to prepare modern slavery statement takes effect
The duty to prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement (which has been in force since 29 October 2015) applies in relation to financial years ending on or after 31 March 2016. This will begin to take effect for employers from 1 April 2016, depending on the timing of their financial year.
Penalty for failure to pay national minimum wage doubled
Draft Regulations double the penalty for non-payment of the national minimum wage and the national living wage for pay reference periods starting on or after 1 April 2016.
Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay frozen
The weekly rate of statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay and statutory shared parental pay does not increase for 2016/17.
Statutory sick pay frozen
The weekly rate of statutory sick pay does not increase for 2016/17.
Statutory redundancy pay may increase
The maximum amount of a week's pay for the purposes of calculating statutory redundancy pay, and other awards such as the basic award for unfair dismissal, is likely to increase on 6 April 2016.
Income tax and national insurance changes
In his Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced the income tax rates and allowances and national insurance rates for 2016/17.
National minimum wage may rise
The national minimum wage may rise on 1 October 2016, subject to the prevailing economic conditions and the Low Pay Commission's report, which is due to be delivered to the Government in February 2016.
There are some legislative matters that are on the agenda and will be subject to some change and clarity and these are yet to be confirmed. An example of these are as follows:
Trade Union Bill comes into force
The Trade Union Bill amends the law applying to trade unions, including changes relating to balloting thresholds and information requirements for industrial action.
Cap on public-sector exit payments introduced
A £95,000 cap on public-sector exit payments is due to be imposed. Draft Regulations set out the circumstances in which the cap applies.
New rules on apprenticeships come into force
To prevent misuse of the term "apprenticeship", the Enterprise Bill makes it an offence to describe a course or training as an apprenticeship in certain circumstances. The Bill also introduces the concept of apprenticeship targets for the public sector.
Immigration Bill introduced
The Immigration Bill aims to address illegal working, including by making it an offence and creating a new role of director of labour market enforcement. It also establishes an English-language requirement for public-sector employees who work directly with the public.
There are notable employment law decisions pending on holiday pay, collective redundancy consultation, whistleblowing, employment tribunal fees, and third-party objections to religious dress.
Holiday pay: EAT judgment expected on commission
Judgment is eagerly awaited in Lock v British Gas Trading Ltd, in which the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) is considering the inclusion of commission in holiday pay calculations.
Court of Appeal to examine HR's role in disciplinaries
When does an HR professional's advice in disciplinary proceedings spill over into improperly influencing the outcome? The Court of Appeal is expected to provide guidance in Ramphal v Department for Transport.
Court of Appeal to consider timing of redundancy consultation
HR professionals will be hoping that the Court of Appeal provides guidance on the timing of redundancy consultation in its forthcoming ruling in United States of America v Nolan.
Whistleblowing: further guidance on what is "in the public interest"
A key issue in case law at the moment is what counts as being "in the public interest" under whistleblowing legislation. The Court of Appeal is to decide if the EAT's liberal approach in Chesterton Global Ltd (t/a Chestertons) and another v Nurmohamed was the correct one.
Last chance for Unison in tribunal fees challenge
The challenge to employment tribunal fees reaches the highest court in the land when Unison argues in the Supreme Court that the fees system is discriminatory.
ECJ to consider third-party objections to religious dress
What does an employer do if a client objects to an employee wearing religious dress while on its site? The European Court of Justice is due to consider this issue in Bougnaoui v Micropole Univers.
Hopefully the above pointer and dates have provided to be useful and the dates are now pencilled in your diaries as this year sees some dramatic changes ahead.