Essential HR calendar: Key employment dates

Written on 11 Aug 2015

During 2015

Implementation of Posting of Workers Enforcement Directive

The government are currently seeking views on their proposals for complying with the Posting of Workers Enforcement Directive (see here).

We do not envisage any immediate actions for employers.  In the meantime, please contact your usual OC contact for further information and implications of this for you.

Autumn 2015

Fit for Work service now fully operational

The Fit for Work Service, previously known as the Health and Work Service, offers free occupational health assistance to employees who have been off sick for four weeks and are referred to it by their GP or, in some instances, their employer. Its aim is to reduce the impact of long-term sickness absence. It has now completed its nationwide rollout after going live across all of England.

It was open to Wales in June, while Scotland has operated the scheme since its launch in December.

The free occupational health referral service includes a telephone-based health assessment followed by a personalised return to work plan. Employers are only involved with the employee’s permission. At present only GPs in England, Scotland and Wales can offer to refer patients to the service but it is anticipated that employers will be able to refer employees to this service by the Autumn.

Our earlier blog on the new service is here. In the meantime, please contact your usual OC contact for further information and implications of this for you.

1 October 2015

National minimum wage is expected to increase

The Low Pay Commission’s recommendations were accepted under the coalition government and the increases are expected to be as follows:

Adults increased from £6.50 to £6.70; 18-20 year olds increased from £5.13 to £5.30; and 16-17 tear olds increased from £3.79 to £3.87

Please contact your usual OC contact to discuss the possible implications of this for you.

Expected October 2015

Modern Slavery Act 2015

The government has announced that businesses conducting business in the UK with a total turnover of at least £36million will be required to publish one of 2 statements each financial year:

Option A: The steps the organisation has taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any part of its own business or in any part of its supply chains.

Option B: That the organisation has taken no steps to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any part of its own business or in any part of its supply chains.

There do not appear to be any specific legal sanctions for failing to comply although it is thought that the reputational risks will encourage compliance.

See our earlier blog here. In the meantime, please contact your usual OC contact for further information and implications of this for you.

Late 2015

Government’s review of fee system in employment tribunals expected to be completed.

The government will consult on any proposals for reforms to the fees and remissions scheme.

The Justice Committee is conducting an inquiry into the effects of changes to court and tribunal fees and charges that were made of the course of the last Parliament. The inquiry will consider the increase in court fees introduced by the Civil Proceedings and Family Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2015, which came into force on 9 March 2015 and the introduction of employment tribunal fees in 2013.

The Committee is particularly interested in views on the following:

  • The effect of the increased court fees and the introduction of employment tribunal fees on access to justice and the volume and quality of cases brought.
  • The effect of the court fees regime on the competitiveness of the legal services market in England and Wales, particularly in the international context.

This is separate to the Ministry of Justice internal review of employment tribunal fees. 

See our alert on this issue here. In the meantime, please contact your usual OC contact for further information and implications of this for you.

Late 2015

UNISON judicial review of ET Fees

We are currently awaiting the outcome of the Court of Appeal decision in the UNISON application for judicial review of ET fees.

See our alert on this issue here. In the meantime, please contact your usual OC contact for further information and implications of this for you.

Early 2016

Regulations are expected to be made requiring employers to publish gender pay information

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 was enacted on 26 March 2015 and although in theory this means that the regulations should be in force by March 2016, the provision requiring this is not itself in force and we are now awaiting a commencement date.

However, the government published its consultation on “Closing the Gender Pay Gap” in July so reforms are expected.

See our blog posts here and here. In the meantime, please contact your usual OC contact for further information and implications of this for you.

April 2016

New National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour for the over 25s will be introduced. This will rise to over £9.00 an hour by 2020

This was one of the highlights in George Osborne’s summer budget in July 2015.

See our blog here on the summer budget announcements. In the meantime, please contact your usual OC contact for further information and implications of this for you.

Early 2017

New tax-free childcare scheme expected to be launched

A new tax free childcare scheme is to be introduced to support eligible parents with childcare costs under the Childcare Payments Act 2014. It is envisaged that the government will be providing 20% support up to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year. Parents will qualify if all parents in the household are working, with income tax less than £150K a year and are not already in receipt of tax credits or universal credit. This was anticipated for Autumn 2015 but has now been delayed till 2017. It will replace the employer run childcare voucher schemes, although employers will still be able to run these schemes for existing members.

An employer will not be required to participate in this new scheme and no salary sacrifice (with the associated national insurance contribution benefits for employers) will be involved.

8 March 2018

BIS is expected to review the shared parental leave regulations introduced in April 2015. Introduction of shared grandparental leave?

We will report further when more details are announced.

6 April 2019

BIS is expected to review the early conciliation regime

We will report further when more details are announced.

30 April 2019

BIS is expected to review the flexible working regulations

These were recently amended to provide the right to request flexible working for all employees subject to a minimum service requirement of 26 weeks.

We will report further when more details are announced.

What other changes are on the horizon?

The following proposals are currently in consideration and we shall keep you updated:

EU General Data Protection Regulation comes into force

The EU General Data Protection Regulation makes changes to the current Data Protection Directive. This will have a number of significant ramifications for employers on how they process data and we are keeping a close watch on European developments in this respect.

Personal tax allowance to exempt workers working 30 hours on the national minimum wage from paying tax

Following on from the Conservative’s budget, it has been promised that future rates of personal income tax will ensure that workers working 30 hours a week on the national minimum wage will not pay income tax.  

The ability for ETs to make recommendations in discrimination cases is expected to be removed

The power for tribunals to make wider recommendations in successful discrimination claims will be repealed by the commencement of section 2 Deregulation Act 2015. This was initially scheduled for October 2015 but will now take effect later than anticipated.

Changes to Equality Act 2010 – Caste Discrimination

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 prescribes that the government must add “caste” to the definition of race under the Equality Act 2010. This was anticipated in October 2015 but has now been delayed. However, this year we had the Employment Appeal Tribunal case of Chandhok & Anor v Tirkey which held that employees can, in certain circumstances, be protected from discrimination on the grounds of their caste (see our blog here).

Reform of strike laws

The Trade Union Bill is currently progressing through Parliament. There is no set date for the reforms to come into force but there are currently three consultations on measures relating to this Bill (see our blog here on the headline issues for employers).

“Granny leave”

David Cameron has announced proposals for grandparents to share shared parental leave with a view to it coming into force in 2018. A consultation is expected next year.

Volunteering leave

David Cameron announced as part of his election campaign that employees in the public sector and large private sector companies (250+ employees) would be getting 3 days paid volunteering leave. There are no further updates on this as yet but indications are that this is still in the pipeline.

Holiday pay

Lock v British Gas is currently on appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal and we will update you further on any developments (see here for our blog on the ET decision).