Reform to strike laws
The Trade Union Bill received royal assent and became the Trade Union Act 2016 on 4 May 2016. The Act is gradually being brought into force by statutory instrument with the first two commencement regulations having taken effect on 1 November and 5 December 2016.
Donelien v Liberata UK Limited
This case, which concerns an employer's constructive knowledge of disability in a disability discrimination claim, is due to come before the Court of Appeal in January.
At the time of writing we await the outcome of the case brought by Gina Miller, an investment banker, challenging the Government's right to trigger Article 50 without an Act of Parliament. However, if the schedule set out by Theresa May is kept to, Article 50 is due to be triggered by the end of March 2017. Whilst changes to employment law will not be top of the Government's to-do list it seems inevitable that some changes will follow in the years to come as a result of Brexit.
The Gig Economy
The profile of the Gig economy (derived from "gigging" musicians) is set to continue to rise with Government and independent reviews of the changing nature of the workplace expected. Employment status is also the issue in Pimlico Plumbers Ltd v Smith which is expected to be heard by the Court of Appeal on 17 January 2017.
Regulatory References in the Financial Sector
New FCA and PRA rules on regulatory references in the financial services sector are scheduled to come into force on 7 March 2017. This will affect firms and insurers who seek and provide references for candidates of certain roles. This is part of the wider package of reforms that aim to improve accountability within banks and insurers.
R(UNISON) v Lord Chancellor
This widely reported case will be heard in the Supreme Court on 27 & 28 March 2017. The Court of Appeal dismissed UNISON's challenge to the introduction of tribunal fees on the basis of lack of evidence relating to the affordability of the fees. Whilst the Scottish Government has already made clear its intention abolish tribunal fees in Scotland it is not clear when this will happen and, as such, the issue is of significance through the whole of mainland Britain.
Achbita v G4S Secure Solutions NV and Bougnaoui v Micropole Univers
The ECJ judgement on these two cases is expected during the course of 2017. The judgement should bring to an end the confusion caused by Advocate General Kokott and Advocate General Sharpston when they gave conflicting opinions on whether a ban on women wearing headscarfs at work was discriminatory.
From April 2017
The automatic enrolment earnings trigger is to remain at £10,000 for the financial year 2017/18. According to the DWP this is to strike the right balance between administrative simplicity and consistency for employers and ensuring that those brought into pensions savings are likely to benefit.
The qualifying earnings bands will also continue to be set in line with the National Insurance lower and upper earnings limits (presently £5,824 and £43,000 but increasing to £5,876 and £45,000).
The apprenticeship levy is scheduled to come into effect from 6 April 2017. The levy will be payable by those liable for employers' NICs. The levy will be 0.5% of the employer's NICs pay bill for a tax year less an annual allowance of £15,000 although certain thresholds and exemptions will apply.
Gender Pay Gap Reporting
The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Reporting) Regulations 2017 are expected to come into force in April 2017. The Regulations require private and third sector organisations to publish gender pay gap information on their websites as well as uploading the information to a government website. The first reports are due on 4 April 2018.
National Living/Minimum Wage
The National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage are set to rise in April. The Living Wage will increase to £7.50 per hour with the other rates increasing as follows:-
• The rate for workers aged 21 to 24 rises to £7.05 per hour
• The development rate (workers aged 18 to 20) rises to £5.60 per hour
• The young workers rate (non-apprentices aged under 18 but above compulsory school age) rises to £4.05 per hour
• The apprenticeship rate rises £3.50 per hour
• The accommodation offset limit rises to £6.40 per day
Employment Tribunal Awards Increase
The annual Employment Tribunal award limit changes are expected to take effect on 6 April 2017. It is likely that they will be announced in February 2017.
Family Friendly Allowances
Increases to family friendly allowances will also take place in April. At the time of writing the proposed changes are as follows:-
• The weekly rate of statutory sick pay (SSP) will be £89.35 (up from £88.45)
• The weekly rate of statutory maternity pay (SMP) and (maternity allowance) will be £140.98 (up from £139.58)
• The weekly rate of statutory paternity pay (SPP) will be £140.98 (up from £139.58)
• The weekly rate of statutory shared parental pay (ShPP) will be £140.98 (up from £139.58)
• The weekly rate of statutory adoption pay (SAP) will be £140.98 (up from £139.58)
Chesterton Global Ltd (t/a Chestertons) and another v Nurmohamed
This case which was due to be heard in October 2016 is now scheduled to come before the Court of Appeal in June 2017. The Court will consider what is sufficient for a claim to be in the public interest (which is a necessary part of a whistleblowing claim).