“Users and suppliers of agency and contract workers in the UK will be affected by major changes in 2015. There are current and prospective attacks on false self-employment and (as promised by Ed Miliband at the Labour party conference, and suggested to the current Government by the Office of Tax Simplification) umbrella worker tax schemes. Alongside this the UK Government is reviewing the way recruiters are regulated, with new laws due in April 2015.”
18 March 2015 (in effect from 1 April 2016) – Changes to the tax treatment of travel and subsistence expenses (with a particular impact on umbrella companies)
The Finance Bill 2015 is expected to include legislation, to be effective from April 2016, that will abolish dispensations for reporting expenses on P11Ds. Importantly, any expenses paid as part of a salary sacrifice arrangement will have to be reported on P11Ds.
HMRC’s response to the initial consultation on travel and subsistence expenses, expected at the time of the 2015 Budget, may result in legislative change from April 2015 – but is more likely to result in a further consultation with changes from April 2016. This could result in large numbers of agency workers not being able to benefit from tax-free expenses.
31 March 2015 – New criminal offence of obtaining details of an individual’s criminal record by means of data subject request
Section 56 of the Data Protection Act 1998 will make it a criminal offence for an employer to require job applicants as a condition of their employment to obtain a copy of their criminal record by means of a data subject access request. The exact date is yet to be announced. Indications are that it will come into force in March 2015.
1 April 2015 – Commencement of intermediaries legislation reporting obligations
Following on from the introduction in 2014 of legislation directed at intermediaries, the new obligations introduced in that legislation come into force on 1 April 2015. These are designed to stop ‘false self-employment’, and require certain ‘specified employment intermediaries’ to make reports once every quarter to HMRC regarding the individuals whom they supply.
5 April 2015 – New shared parental leave rules become operative
Employers will still need to keep any additional paternity leave policy in place for those babies born or children placed for adoption before 5 April 2015.
5 April 2015 – New rules on adoption leave come into force
As well as partners of adopters being able to take advantage of shared parental leave, other changes relating to adoption arrangements include the following:
- statutory adoption pay (SAP) will be brought in line with statutory maternity pay – the first six weeks of SAP will be paid at 90% of the employee’s annual earnings rather than at the flat rate;
- statutory adoption leave becomes a day-one right, the 26-week service requirement is removed; and
- new rights for the primary adopter to take paid time off for up to five adoption appointments and for the secondary adopter to take unpaid time off for up to two adoption appointments. Employees (and agency workers who qualify for this right) will be protected against suffering a detriment or dismissal for exercising this right.
There are also new rules on surrogacy. Parents who have a child through a surrogacy arrangement will be entitled to take ordinary paternity leave, adoption leave and shared parental leave (and receive statutory pay), subject to meeting the eligibility criteria.
5 April 2015 – Right to statutory parental leave extended to children under 18
The right to take unpaid statutory parental leave will be extended to parents of any child under the age of 18 years. At present only parents with children under the age of five years are entitled to benefit from this right (except in the case of disabled children).
5 April 2015 – Increase in unfair dismissal compensation cap?
The unfair dismissal compensation cap may be increased from 5 April 2015 in respect of any relevant dismissal that is found to be unfair on or after that date. We are currently awaiting details of whether this will be the case and if so the amount of any increase. The current cap is £76,574.
30 April 2015 – New statutory pay rates come into force
From 30 April 2015, statutory pay for maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental leave will be £139.58 per week. Statutory sick pay will increase to £88.45 per week.
7 May 2015 – General Election
Key employment law issues on the agenda include strike reform, the Employment Tribunal system, family-friendly policies, zero-hour contracts and issues surrounding the national minimum wage.
31 May 2015 – Fit for Work Service to become fully operational
This new health and work assessment and advisory service started its roll-out in late 2014. The scheme offers free occupational health assistance after four weeks of sickness absence, as well as more general health and work advice to help people stay in or return to work.
1 July 2015 – Two-year cap on back pay claims for holiday will apply to claims lodged on or after 1 July 2015
The two-year cap on holiday back pay claims, contained in the Deduction from Wages (Limitation) Regulations 2014, will come into force on 1 July 2015. The limit relates to claims for holiday back pay under the unlawful deductions of wages provisions (and some other unlawful deduction claims).
Concerns have been raised as to whether or not the Government had authority to introduce these Regulations and they may well be challenged.
1 July 2015 – First Intermediaries Legislation HMRC reports due
Pursuant to the new reporting requirements introduced in April 2015, reports relating to workers supplied by ‘employment intermediaries’ are due to HMRC from 1 July 2015.
6 July 2015 – Employee Share Plans
Under new HMRC rules, companies operating employee share plans now need to register their plans (whether tax-advantaged or unapproved) and submit online annual returns. For tax-advantaged plans, the company must also self-certify that the plan meets the legislative requirements.
Companies should register their plans using the HMRC Employment Related Securities Online service as soon as possible, so that they are in a position to submit their annual returns and make any necessary declarations (it can take HMRC up to seven days to generate the appropriate reference number). The deadline for making declarations and submitting annual returns (for the year ending 5 April 2015) online to HMRC is by 6 July 2015.