The start of a new year is a time for looking ahead and planning for what is to come in the next 12 months. To assist, this is the first of two blogs we will be posting this week considering what is going to be happening in the world of employment law in 2018.
This blog highlights the legislative changes presently scheduled to take place this year; our second blog which will be posted at the end of this week will look at some of the more important cases which will be decided this year and which are likely going to have implications for employers and how they operate on a day to day basis.
Immigration – January 2018
The first reading of the new Immigration Bill is expected in January 2018. The bill is expected to cover the whole of the UK and will establish a new national policy on immigration, including new powers concerning the immigration status of European Economic Area (EEA) nationals. While not amounting to a legislative change directed at employment law per se, the Bill will allow the government to repeal EU law on immigration, primarily free movement, which otherwise would have been saved and converted into UK law by the Repeal Bill. The migration of EU nationals and their family members will be made subject to relevant UK law after Brexit.
Gender Pay Gap (Public Sector) – March 2018
Under the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017, public sector employers in England, Wales and Scotland with 250 or more employees must publish reports setting out the pay differences between men and women employed by them. First reports must be published before 30th March 2018 with the relevant information provided being based on a snapshot date of 31st March 2017.
The report must be accompanied by a signed statement from the employer that the information that has been provided is accurate and correct. The results detailed in the report are required to remain on the employer’s website for a period of at least 3 years.
The results that are published need to have been based on the calculations below:
From April 2018, figures will have to be reported annually.
Gender Pay Gap (Private and Voluntary Sector) – April 2018
Private and voluntary sector employers that have at least 250 employees will also be required to publish reports under the terms of the Gender Pay Gap regulations setting out the pay differential between men and women. These reports must be published by 4 April 2018 and should be based on information as at a snapshot date of 5 April 2017.
The details that require to be included in these reports mirror those that public sector employers require to provide, as set out above.
Statutory Rates – April 2018
All of these increases will apply from 6th April 2018.
Income Tax Thresholds – April 2018
As declared in Autumn Budget 2017, the personal income tax allowance will be increased to £11,850 and the higher rate tax threshold will be £46,350 as from 6th April 2018.
Employer Contribution for Pensions – April 2018
The Employers’ (Implementation) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/4) as amended by the Employers’ Duties (Implementation) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/719), implement a scheduled increase in the minimum percentage that an employer pays into a pension auto-enrolment scheme. The planned increase is 1% to 2%.
Taxation of Termination Payments – April 2018
From April 2018, the exemption from income tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for termination payments up to the current threshold of £30,000 will be retained. However, employer NICs will be payable on payments above £30,000: this will have financial implications for employers who provide termination packages in excess of £30,000.
Restricting Employment Allowance – April 2018
From April 2018, the Employment Allowance will be removed for a period of one year for those who receive civil penalties from the Home Office for employing illegal workers and have exhausted their Home Office appeal rights in relation to that civil penalty. This new exclusion is to be introduced under the Employment Allowance (Disqualified Persons) Regulations 2017.
General Data Protection Regulation – 25 May 2018
The General Data Protection Regulation will apply in all Member States from 25 May 2018. Some of the key changes being made by the GDPR are the following:
Trade Secrets Directive – 9th June 2018
The Trade Secrets Directive (2016/943/EU) introduces an EU-wide definition of “trade secret”: any information that is secret, has commercial value because it is secret, and has been subject to reasonable steps by the holder of the information to keep it secret.
Member states have until 9th June 2018 to transpose the Directive into their national law.
Other Forthcoming Legislative Changes in 2018
Grandparental Leave - The Government intends to bring legislation into force in 2018 to extend Shared Parental Leave to include grandparents. If the scheme is extended then it is likely that mothers will be able to share leave with grandparents in the same way that they can currently share it with fathers/partners. However, a consultation on the final implementation of this proposal has yet to take place.
While Brexit is likely to loom large by the time we reach the end of 2018, it seems very unlikely that the UK Government will take steps to materially alter existing employment laws which currently implement EU minimum requirements as a result of this. A significant amount of EU employment law has been brought into force in the UK by way of UK legislation and so this will remain effective after Brexit unless it is amended. Another reason why there is cause to suspect only limited changes will flow from Britain’s exit from the EU is that a lot of EU rights were already legislated for on a UK basis, prior to the introduction of relevant EU law.
In an effort to give workers and employers some legal certainty, the government has established that questions relating to the interpretation of preserved EU-derived law will be determined in UK courts in relation to the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, as it stands on the day that the UK leaves the EU. Whether this proves to be an acceptable basis to deal with matters is something only time will tell.