2017 looks like a busy year for UK employment law both in terms of legislative changes and case law developments. Here is a snap-shot of some of the major changes that can be expected: –
Gender Pay Gap Reporting
The Regulations are due to come into force on 6 April 2017 and affect private sector organisations with 250 or more employees.
ACAS and the Government Equalities Office have also published guidance on how businesses can calculate and report their gender pay gap in their organisation.
A revised version of the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 was published in December 2016. All organisations must publish a snapshot of salaries and bonuses across 6 key metrics and publish information on their website about their gender pay gap within 12 months of the Regulations coming into force and then annually thereafter.
Public sector Regulations are also being introduced as part of the existing public-sector equality duty.
The case of British Gas -v- Lock is being appealed to the Supreme Court and British Gas are hoping to overturn the Court of Appeal’s decision which held that holiday pay should include commission payments. This authority is also in line with recent developments which held that regular overtime payments also needs to be included in the calculation of holiday pay.
It is also clear that European Union case law supports these developments and for now the UK remains a member of the European Union, notwithstanding BREXIT. Consequently, the UK remains bound by any European rulings until we have formally left the European Union currently suggested for 2019.
Salary Sacrifice Schemes
This follows on from last year’s Autumn Statement where it was announced that there would be changes to the tax status of some salary sacrifice benefits with effect from April 2017. This will mean that some benefits will no longer benefit from tax exemptions under the banner of salary sacrifice for example cars, accommodation and school fees and other benefits in kind. However, pensions, childcare vouchers and cycle to work schemes will continue to be exempt from tax under the new salary sacrifice rules.
New rules come into effect on 6 April 2017 whereby the Government is introducing its anticipated annual apprenticeship levy. The new rules will apply to all employers in the UK with a salary outlay of £3 million or more. The levy will be charged at the rate of 0.5% of the total salary bill. An annual allowance of £15,000 can also be offset against the levy. The aim of the legislation is to promote apprenticeships for young people and to increase their number for those employers that have salary levels below £3 million. It is being promoted as an alternative to full time further education and to promote training and skills for young people.
Worker Status in the Gig economy
Following on from last year’s landmark Uber judgment ruling that taxi drivers were workers entitling them to various employment rights there has been another successful challenge his time in the courier sector. An employment tribunal at first instance held that a CitySprint courier was also a worker and not self-employed. Further challenges are expected this year, and also the appeal from Uber, along with Government proposals to introduce new employment laws to cater for the growing Gig economy and 21st century ways of working.
Case law developments:
Creighton -v- Together Housing Association Limited
This employment tribunal decision related to a long serving employee who was dismissed by his employer because he made derogatory comments about his colleagues and his employer on Twitter for up to three years.
The employment tribunal held that the dismissal for gross misconduct following a disciplinary investigation and hearing was a potentially fair reason relating to his conduct.
This authority demonstrates once again that it is vitally important that employers not only have an effective social media policy in place that is regularly brought to the attention of employees but that employers are consistent in applying it to all employees.
Call Steven Eckett, our employment solicitor on 020 7998 7777 for more information or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.