2017/18 Employment Law and Legislation Update

Legislative Changes This Year - What Do They Mean?

Legislative Changes

Below is a summary of the key legislative changes during the 2017-18 year, as well as key employment tribunal cases. Also, a look forward to expected changes this year.
Please contact me if you wish to discuss any of these in more detail or are unsure in any way about how they impact on your business.

March 2017 – Trade Union Act

This act reformed the rules on trade union ballots for taking industrial action. The main provisions of the act related to the required turnout for industrial action, the required level of member of support, and the length of time the ballot remains valid

April 2017 – Gender Pay Gap Reporting

This affects large organisations (over 250 staff initially), who are required to submit key wage information on a snapshot date. This includes hourly earnings as well as bonus pay.

April 2017 – Apprenticeship Levy

Employers with a wage bill of in excess of £3 million now have to pay an apprentice levy. This is to meet the cost of apprenticeship schemes throughout the UK, and applies to private and public sectors.

April 2017 – the Immigration Skills Charge Regulations 2017

This affects employers who sponsor skilled workers under Tier 2 of the points system, who , now have to pay £1000 per certificate of sponsorship (£364 for small organisations and charities). Paper trails will be essential in proving this requirement has been met

July 2017 – Tribunal Fees Abolished

On 26 July 2017 the tribunal service announced that the fees introduced in 2013 were unlawful. A fee refund scheme was opened by the government in November 2017.

December 2017 – March 2018 – Fit for Work Service Abolished

In England and Wales, new referrals ceased to be accepted after December 2017 (but will continue to be dealt with until March 2018). Online and telephone advice is still available in all areas, however the assessments and meetings will cease to exist.

April 2018 – Childcare Voucher Scheme

The salary sacrifice scheme will close to new entrants, however existing users can remain in the scheme. Under the new tax free scheme there is no employer involvement, employees apply themselves. This has been put on hold, with changes expected in summer 2018.

May 2018 – GDRP (General Data Protection Regulations)

Audits will need to be carried out of personal data (employees) to ensure it meets the new regulations in advance of May 2018. GDPR also introduces many other elements in relation to collation and storage of data. This will provide individuals with more control over their personal data.

National Minimum Wage and other Statutory Payments 2018

The new National Minimum Wages/ National Living Wage rates, which will come into effect on 1st April 2018 have been announced as:

  • 25+ = £7.83
  • 21-24 = £7.38
  • 18-20 = £5.90
  • Workers under 18 who are no longer of compulsory school age = £4.20
  • Apprentice rate = £3.70
  • Accommodation offset = £7.00

New statutory rates have also been released ahead of April 2018. They are as follows:

  • Statutory maternity pay is rising to £145.18 from April 2018. The increase normally occurs on the first Sunday in April, which in 2018 is 1 April.
  • Also on 1 April 2018, the rates of statutory paternity pay and statutory shared parental pay will go up from £140.98 to £145.18 (or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate).
  • The rate of statutory adoption pay will increase from £140.98 to £145.18.
  • From 1 April 2018, statutory adoption pay is payable at 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings for the first six weeks, with the remainder of the adoption pay period at the rate of £145.18, or 90% of average weekly earnings if this is less than £145.18.
  • The rate of statutory sick pay is also increasing from £89.35 to £92.05. This increase is expected to occur on 6 April 2018. To be entitled to these statutory payments, the employee’s average earnings must be equal to or more than the lower earnings limit.
    The lower earnings limit is increasing from £113 to £116 in April 2018.

Tribunal Case Updates

Working Time – Standby Time

Ville de Nivelles V Matzak

The European Court of Justice ruled in this case that time that firefighters are at home, but on call counts as working time, if they are expected to respond to an emergency in a set amount of time. This decision revolved around the impact that the requirement to respond in a time limit (of 8 minutes) would have an impact on the workers personal and social interests.

Agency Workers

Kocur V Royal Mail

The EAT ruled that after 12 weeks, agency workers are entitled to the same rights and conditions as permanent staff, and this can not be offset by offering higher rates of pay. However, the EAT also noted that this does not indicate a requirement to give an agency worker the same number of hours as permanent staff.

Knowledge of Disability

Donelien V Liberata UK LTD

The court of appeal clarified that the employer can not be expected to make reasonable adjustments when it had no knowledge that an employee was disabled. In this case an occupational health report, GP letters and return to work interviews were considered, none of which indicated a disability.

Upcoming Changes

Taxation of Termination Payments.

With effect from 6 April 2018 there will be changes to the way termination payments are taxed. All notice pay will be subject to tax and NI even if this is covered by a Pay in Lieu of Notice (PILON) clause in the contract.

Pension Auto Enrolment

The minimum contribution will increase from the current 2% of earnings to 5% (2% from employer, 2.4% from employee and 0.6% tax relief). In April 2019 this will increase again to 8%.

GDPR and Data Protection Bill 2017

GDPR regulations come into force in May 2018 (see above). The Data Protection Bill 2017 will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 from the same date (25/5/18)