It is looking like a quieter year in terms of new legislation compared to 2015. However, the following changes are expected to be implemented:
- The National Living Wage will be implemented through the National Minimum Wage Regulations. The first national living wage is to be set at £7.20 and will apply to workers aged 25 and over from April 2016.
- The annual index linked change to the Employment Tribunal compensatory award cap will take place with effect from April 2016.
- Most types of public sector employee exit payments will be capped at £95,000. It is proposed to bring the cap into effect in early 2016. In Scotland it will be a matter for the Scottish Government to decide whether they wish the cap to be applied to devolved bodies.
- Regulations implementing the new gender pay reporting requirements are expected at some point in 2016.
In addition, HMRC has confirmed that it will publish a summary of responses to the UK Government consultation on the simplification of taxation of termination payments; it has been confirmed that there will be no increases in Statutory Maternity, Paternity, Adoption or Shared Parental Pay, Maternity Allowance of Statutory Sick Pay for the year 2016 - 2017 and auto enrolment will continue to be rolled out with many organisations having staging dates between June 2015 and April 2017.
The following important court decisions are expected in 2016:
- The EAT heard the appeal in British Gas Trading v Lock & Another on 8 and 9 December. The EAT considered the application of UK law to the European Court of Justice ruling that commission must be included in holiday pay calculations.
- The EAT's liberal interpretation of when an employee reasonably believes a disclosure is being made "in the public interest" is to be considered by the Court of Appeal in 2016.
- Unison will have one final attempt to challenge the introduction of fees for bringing an employment tribunal claim. This may be less of an issue north of the border given the Scottish Government's indication that it will abolish fees under powers to be provided under the Scotland Act.
- Two large equal pay claims are expected against Asda and Sainsbury's in 2016. The claimants in the Asda case are seeking to compare their jobs in retail stores to colleagues who work in distribution centres.
In addition, we can also expect to see many decisions from the EAT (and other courts) dealing with a significant variety of employment issues.