2017 is drawing to a close, but the regulatory changes and legal updates keep coming for businesses – especially in the wake of the Chancellor’s Budget. April 2018 heralds the implementation of a multitude of changes that businesses should be preparing for, but there are also a range of new issues that businesses need to be aware of.
With the new tribunal fee refund scheme, a nudge from the government on gender pay gap reporting and the ongoing dispute over whether self-employed contractors can be classed as workers, there’s plenty for businesses to contend with as we approach the end of the year.
Here’s your rundown of the updates, regulatory changes and industry trends the employment industry is facing up to right now.
Employment Tribunal Refund Scheme Now Up and Running
Following the Supreme Court’s July judgement which rules that the fee scheme for employment tribunals was unlawful, the first stage of the subsequent refund scheme has now been set up. Anyone who paid a fee to an employment tribunal from 29 July 2013 to 26 July 2017 is now entitled to apply for a full refund, plus 0.5% interest.
Employers can also make a claim, for example, if they were subject to fees for judicial mediation or an appeal to the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT). It’s thought the government has set aside £33m to handle the first phase of refunds, and the Ministry of Justice and HM Courts and Tribunals Service will be working with various Trade Unions in relation to some of the larger claims that will be made.
Anyone hoping to apply for a refund can download a refund form from the HM Courts and Tribunals Service website.
Companies Given Nudge On Gender Pay Gap Reporting
The deadline for gender pay gap reporting is still six months away – but the Government Equalities Office has been giving a subtle nudge to certain companies that have been inactive to this point. The office has been writing to employers it believes meet the criteria for gender pay gap reporting, but who haven’t uploaded any data to the website.
The letters are designed to remind companies of their obligations and prompt action. The process of collecting the data that is required has been quite tricky for many employers – in fact, many have confirmed that it’s been much more time-consuming than they originally believed. Hopefully the government reminders will spur some companies into action and ensure they’re not caught out by the volume of work that’s required before the deadline on 4th April 2018 (30th March 2018 for public sector organisations).
Addison Lee Join Uber And Excel In Unsuccessful Gig Economy Rulings
The London minicab and courier company Addison Lee is the latest in a line of high-profile organisations to lose a court case in which it attempted to argue that self-employed contractors were not workers.
The Employment Tribunal twice ruled that Addison Lee should not have classified drivers as independent contractors. They were, in fact, workers, and should have been afforded the rights that any regular worker would be entitled to, including receiving holiday pay and the right to be paid the National Minimum Wage. Addison Lee joins Uber, City Sprint, Excel and Pimlico Plumbers on the losing side of very similar rulings.
National Living Wage Set To Rise
The Budget took place on 22 November 2017, and a range of announcements were made regarding wages and personal taxation. The biggest change was the increase in the National Living Wage, which is set to go up from April 2018. It will rise from £7.50 per hour to £7.83 per hour – an increase of 4.4%. The government have made clear their plans to bring the National Minimum Wage up to £9.00 per hour by 2020, though campaigners believe the appropriate level should be closer to £8.75.
The personal allowance on income tax will also go up in April. The threshold currently sits at £11,500, and it will increase in six months to £11,850. The higher rate tax threshold will rise to £46,350.
Government Introduces Parental Bereavement Bill
A private members’ bill is currently progressing through parliament which would give newly bereaved parents a short period of paid leave. The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill was introduced in October, and made it through a second reading, meaning it could be written into law by 2020.
Currently, employed parents have the right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off to deal with such tragic circumstances. The new law would mean parents with a minimum of 26 weeks of continuous service would be eligible for statutory bereavement pay. Employers will be able to reclaim some of all of the cost.
Prepare For Subject Access Requests When GDPR Goes Live
As we’ve covered in previous summaries, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) will go live in May 2018 – and research has shown that with it will come a tidal wave of SARs (subject access requests). 9.1% of the 1,028 workers surveyed said they would submit a SAR, while 4% said they would do the same with former employers. 18% of those interviewed were amazed that employers were entitled to hold such information about them, while 1 in 10 wanted the companies to delete their data altogether.
It’s impossible to predict how many SARs a business will receive, but it’s important for businesses to ensure they’re adequately prepared ahead of the new data protection rules. Around 70% of the employees surveyed had no idea about the upcoming changes – but as the publicity around GDPR ramps up, many more of them will start to become aware that they can make SARs if they choose.
This is our last Recruitment Outlook for 2017, so if you have any questions, or if we can help you with any of your immediate recruitment requirements, please call us on
020 7870 7177.