As we enter the New Year and Christmas now seems a distant memory, it is a good time to set out the key employment law changes employers can look forward to for the next 12 months.
This year is potentially significant with the forthcoming EU Membership Referendum, which may well take place in 2016. Employment Buddy will be keeping a close eye and will ensure you are up to date on the referendum and its relevance to employers.
Please read on and add the following dates to your diaries to ensure your business is ready for 2016.
1 January 2016 – Bonuses in financial services
FCA-regulated firms will be required to ensure that variable remuneration (e.g. bonuses) can be clawed back for 7 years (10 years for senior managers) in cases of employee misbehaviour or where the firm suffers a material failure of risk management.
January-February 2016 – Holiday pay
The EAT judgment in Lock v British Gas Trading Ltd is expected to be delivered early this year, which will confirm whether holiday pay under UK law can be read so as to include commission and other similar payments in order to comply with EU law.
11 January 2016 – Zero hour contracts
Regulations come into force enabling zero-hour workers to bring tribunal claims if they are dismissed or subjected to a detriment for refusing to comply with an unlawful exclusivity clause.
15 February 2016 – Employment agencies
The Government is scheduled to publish its response to consultation concerning a proposed ban on employment agencies recruiting workers exclusively from overseas EEA countries to work in the UK.
16/17 February 2016 – Staff handbooks
The Court of Appeal is scheduled to hear Sparks v Department of Transport and consider whether the terms of a staff handbook are incorporated into employees’ contracts so cannot be changed unilaterally by the employer.
2/3 March 2016 – Agency Workers Regulations
The Court of Appeal is scheduled to hear Moran v Ideal Cleaning Services Ltd, which will consider the definition of “temporary” agency workers for the purposes of the Agency Worker Regulations 2010.
26 March 2016 – Gender pay gap reporting
Regulations will potentially to come into force by no later than this date requiring private sector employers with 250 or more employees to report gender pay gap information.
1 April 2016 – National Living Wage
The National Living Wage, which applies to workers aged 25 and over, will come into force on this date. This will entitle eligible workers to a minimum wage of £7.20 per hour. All current rates are reviewed annually and any new rates will take effect from 1 October 2016.
18-19 May 2016 – Employment status
The Court of Appeal is expected in hear the case of Pimlico Plumbers Ltd v Smith and consider the meaning of self-employment and the degree of personal financial risk required for an individual to be regarded as self-employed.
June 2016 – EU referendum
Widely regarded by commentators as the earliest practical time the EU referendum can be held. More likely it may be held before September 2016.
14 June 2016 - TUPE
The Court of Appeal is scheduled to hear BT Managed Services Ltd v Edwards and determine whether an employee on permanent sickness absence is “assigned” to an organised grouping of employees for the purposes of a TUPE transfer and so becomes an employee of the transferee. This will be of relevance to outsourcing, insourcing and tendering of services.
7 September 2016 - Whistleblowing
Relevant PRA and FCA-regulated firms are to appoint whistleblowing champions, establish internal whistleblowing channels and inform staff of protections available to whistleblowers.
11/12 October 2016
The Court of Appeal is scheduled to hear Chesterton Global Ltd v Nurmohamed, which will consider the public interest test in determining whether a worker’s complaint amounts to a protected disclosure for the purpose of whistleblowing claims.
Other things to look out for this year:
- Due to the current low rate of inflation, the Government has proposed that there will be no change in 2016 to the various statutory weekly payments, including sick pay, maternity pay, paternity pay, adoption pay and shared parental pay
- The Trade Union Bill is currently going through Parliament, which will place further requirements for industrial action to be lawful, such as:
- 50% voting thresholds;
- 40% of those entitled to vote in the ballot must vote in favour of industrial action for important public services;
- industrial action must take place within 4 months of the ballot;
- increasing the amount of notice to be given to employers before industrial action takes place
- additional regulation of picketing and leverage tactics by unions
- Proposed regulations may emerge this year wholly or partially repealing the ban on the use of agency workers during industrial action
- Regulations are expected to come into force requiring public sector employees to repay some or all of any exit payments if they return to public sector employment, and place an overall cap of £95,000 before tax on public sector severance packages
- Hearings in the Court of Appeal may be scheduled this year considering the scope of collective redundancy consultation, namely:
- the meaning of “establishment” in the Woolworths case;
- when an employer is regarded as “proposing” to dismiss 20 or more employees so as to trigger collective consultation in the USA v Nolan case
- Provisions imposing penalties on employers who fail to pay employment tribunal awards or sums under an ACAS settlement agreement may come into force
- Draft Regulations are due to come into force requiring certain bodies to annually report on the whistleblowing disclosures made to them on an anonymous basis
- The current Immigration Bill is currently progressing through Parliament, which will:
- expand the offence of employing illegal migrants to circumstances where an employer has “reasonable cause to believe” it is employing an illegal migrant;
- Introduce powers to impose an “immigration skills charge” on employers who sponsor skilled workers from outside the EEA
- public authorities will be required to ensure migrant workers in certain customer-facing roles are fluent in speaking English