Everyone will be affected when Britain leaves the EU, but we can expect it to be ‘business as usual’ for quite some time. The transition will require enormous negotiation and, while it’s safe to assume that the government won’t simply repeal all EU-related employment law, it’s undeniable that the landscape will alter. The UK is bound by many employment laws, enacted here and in Europe, and it will take individual Acts of Parliament to change any of these. Some areas we can expect to change post-Brexit include the Working Time Regulations, agency workers’ rights and the right to work, as well as health and safety legislation, food regulations and EU workers.
While the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP) doesn’t take effect until May 2018, the scale of the changes means this should be a priority for employers in 2017. GDRP will take effect before Britain leaves the EU, so employers need to be prepared, or else risk large fines.
The gig economy
The gig economy is another area to watch this year. Employment status has long been the greyest area of employment law and the Uber tribunal verdict will have far-reaching implications. Should the tribunal appeal court uphold the Uber verdict, it’s likely to open the floodgates for similar claims.
Already further tribunal cases have been brought against Deliveroo and CitySprint, and the future of the gig economy will likely be determined by the results.
From 6 April 2017, a levy of 0.5 per cent of an employer’s pay bill will be introduced on large employers to fund three million additional apprenticeships over the next five years. This will apply to employers that have an annual pay bill of more than £3m or are connected to other companies or charities for Employment Allowance, which in total have an annual pay bill of more than £3m. Each employer will receive £15,000 to offset against their levy payment.
Gender pay gap reporting
The gender pay gap reporting law requires large companies (250+ employees) to publish mean and median gender pay gaps, with the first reports due to be published in April 2018 covering April 2017 to April 2018, as well as information on any bonuses paid from April 2016 to April 2017. Employers cannot ignore this and organisations should be gathering data now to ensure that they comply with reporting procedures. While employers have no obligation to explain a gender pay gap, nor a duty to address if they are complying with the Equality Act 2010, failure to do so could lead to adverse publicity.
Tax savings and childcare
As of 6 April 2017, the government will abolish tax savings through many salary-sacrifice schemes, except for those related to pension savings, childcare, cycle-to-work or ultra-low emission cars. Schemes that are put in place before April 2017 will be protected until April 2018. Any arrangements related to cars, school fees or accommodation will be protected until April 2021.
There is also good news for families, with government plans to double the number of hours of free childcare from 15 to 30 hours for three and four-year-olds in working families from September 2017.