Employment law and HR: what to expect in 2018

9 February, 2018

The business landscape in 2018 is likely to be shaped by the Brexit negotiations, and whilst this will impact employment law – particularly the freedom of movement of EU workers – there will be a variety of major developments from elsewhere.  These are the changes and developments which we can expect during the year.

2018 – Employment Tribunal claims

Since the abolition of tribunal fees in July 2017, there has been a 64% increase in the number of employment tribunal claims brought by individuals. The trend is set to continue – especially given that the Tribunal Service is writing to claimants whose claims were rejected or dismissed because of non-payment of the fee. Read here for more information.

2018 – Taylor Review recommendations

The government has published its (arguably limited) response to the Taylor Review recommendations by outlining its plans, set out in four consultation documents, which include the following:

  • Allow workers to request a “more predictable” contract where appropriate
  • HMRC enforcement of workers’ sick pay and holiday pay rights
  • Introduce a ‘name and shame’ scheme for employers who fail to pay tribunal awards
  • Consider introducing a higher rate of the national minimum wage for ‘zero hour contract’ workers
  • Consult on addressing employment status, protection of agency workers and transparency in the UK labour market.

The four consultations close on various dates in May and June 2018.

Early 2018 – Brexit and immigration

Based on the government’s current proposals, provided that a worker who is an EEA citizen has started work before Brexit, he or she will be eligible to apply for temporary status or settled status, depending on their length of service in the UK at the time of Brexit. This therefore means that non-EU citizens working in the UK will be allowed to remain and work post Brexit.

The uncertainty of Brexit negotiations mean that rules on immigration will develop over the course of 2018, and details of the post-Brexit immigration system are still awaited. We will keep you updated.

April 2018 – Statutory changes

National minimum wage rates will increase from 1 April 2018:

  • £7.83 per hour (from £7.50) aged 25 and over
  • £7.38 per hour (from £7.05) aged 21 – 24
  • £5.90 per hour (from £5.60) aged 18 – 20
  • £4.20 per hour (from £4.05) aged 16 -17
  • The apprentice rate increases from £3.50 to £3.70 per hour.

Parental payments (from 9 April 2018):

The prescribed rate of statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay and statutory shared parental pay increases from £140.98 per week to £145.18 or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

Statutory payments (from 9 April):

The statutory sick pay (SSP) rate increases from £89.35 per week to £92.05 per week.

The maximum compensation limits (e.g. unfair dismissal basic award and statutory redundancy pay) are likely to change in April 2018 and we shall update you on our blog when the new limits are published.

4 April 2018 – Gender Pay Gap reporting

Organisations in the public sector and private sector that employ over 250 people must publish their gender pay gap data by 30 March 2018 and 4 April 2018 respectively. Publishable data includes: the mean and median gender and bonus pay gap; the proportion of men and women in receipt of bonuses; and the proportion of men and women in each quartile pay band.

6 April 2018 – Tax on payments in lieu of notice (PILONs)

The Government has announced that all PILONs, whether contractual or non-contractual, are taxable on the basis of basic pay only and subject to National Insurance contributions.

The Government’s decision to begin charging employer National Insurance contributions on compensation payments over £30,000 has been delayed until April 2019.

25 May 2018 – GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which replaces the Data Protection Act 1998, sets out new rules around the collection and processing of individuals’ data. Failure to comply with the GDPR could result in fines of up to £17m or 4% of worldwide turnover.

Applying to recruitment, employment and post employment, employers must consider what personal data is held, where, by whom, how and why it is being processed.

Employers must ensure they only process the minimum personal data necessary for a specific purpose and is retained for no longer than is required for that purpose.

Amongst other steps, contracts of employment, employee privacy notices, contracts with recruitment agencies, and data protection policies must be reviewed and updated to comply with changing requirements surrounding consent, processing, monitoring and enhanced data subject rights.