Irwin Mitchell | Focus on Employment | Spring 2016 - Legislation Tracker

What is in force or expected to come into force this year?

1 January

Whistleblowing

“Prescribed persons” are required to produce annual reports of whistleblowing disclosures (without identifying the worker who made the disclosure, their employer or other person about whom the disclosure was made).

11 January

Zero hours contracts

Regulations came into force which provides the right to unfair dismissal protection for employees working under a zero hours contract who are dismissed because the employee has failed to comply with an exclusivity clause.

31 March

Modern slavery

Organisations with a turnover of £36 million must publish an annual slavery and human trafficking statement in respect of financial years ending on or after this date.

1 April

National Living Wage

Introduction of the National Living Wage for workers aged 25 and over paid at the rate of £7.20 per hour.

1 April

Penalties for failing to pay the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage           

Penalties for failing to pay the appropriate rates doubled from 100% of the shortfall in wages to 200% of the shortfall, capped at £20,000 per worker.

6 April

Increases to ET limits

Increase in the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal to £78,962 (from £78,335).

Increase in the maximum amount of a week’s pay used to calculate statutory redundancy payments and various awards including the basic award for unfair dismissal claims to £479 (from £475).

6 April

Limits on number of postponements to ET hearings

Parties can only make two applications to postpone hearing dates and costs may be imposed against a party who makes a late application.

6 April

Statutory payments for SMP

No increase in the weekly rates. These will remain as follows:
1. SMP, SAP; PP and ShPP - £139.58 per week
2. Sick pay - £88.45 per week.

8 May

Recruitment agencies

Changes affecting the regulation of recruitment agencies come into effect. Employment agencies will not have to agree terms and enter into a written contract with the hirer before providing services.

23 June

Referendum

Referendum on whether UK should remain in the EU.

Date TBC - expected October 2016

Gender Pay Reporting

Section 78 of the Equality Act 2010 enables the Government to make regulations requiring employers with over 250 employees to publish details of their gender pay gap. The Government’s response to the consultation is expected soon.

Date TBC

Repayment of public sector exit payments

Qualifying individuals will be obliged to notify their new and previous employer where they propose to return to any part of the public sector (as an employee, self employed contractor or office holder) after they have received a public sector exit payment within the previous 12 months.

Public sector exit payments include those paid for loss of employment, including enhanced redundancy payments, discretionary payments to buy out actuarial reductions to pensions and severance payments. It does not apply to payments in lieu of notice, contractual bonus payments or those made in connection with incapacity, or payments awarded to the individual by a court or tribunal.

Qualifying individuals are those who earned £80,000 or more within 12 months of receiving their exit payment.

Repayment will be tapered, so for example, an employee returning within two months of receiving an exit payment will repay more than an employee returning nine months after receiving the payment.

Date TBC

Exit payments and apprenticeships

The Enterprise Bill 2015-16 will introduce:

  • A £95,000 cap on exit payments made to public sector workers to end six-figure payoffs.
  • Regulations to restrict the use of the word “apprenticeship” to Governmentaccredited schemes and to increase the number of public sector apprenticeships offered.

Date TBC

Trade unions

Proposed changes to balloting rules for industrial action including enhanced rules for “essential public services”, removing the prohibition on using agency staff to cover striking employees, measures on picketing, facility time, political donations and additional powers for the Certification Officer.

Date TBC

Tax treatment of termination payments

Proposals include treating all payments in lieu of notice as taxable. The government’s response to the recent consultation is expected later this year.

Date TBC

Company directors

All company directors should be natural persons (not corporate entities). There will be a 12 month grace period after which corporate directors will cease to be directors by operation of law.

Spring 2016