Major employment law changes in 2016

Major employment law changes in 2016 – a CIPD Update

Following the election in May 2015, many of the announcements made by Government will start to come into force in 2016, the highlight of these being the new National Living Wage comes into affect from April, which is expected to affect half of all employees.

Another pay issue is to be addressed with legislation is that large organisations will be required to publish gender pay gap reports, including bonus payments. Additionally tax-free termination payments may also become subject to tax following a consultation last year by the Office of Tax Simplification.

If passed by Parliament, bills (see below) will bring changes to strike laws, use of the term ‘apprenticeship’, exit payments for public sector workers, and employing overseas workers.

Consultations expected this year include proposals for working parents with children aged three to four to receive 30 hours of free childcare, and working grandparents to access shared parental leave to care for grandchildren.

In January

  • Regulations giving zero hours workers the right not to be unfairly dismissed or subjected to a detriment for failing to comply with an exclusivity clause, and to claim compensation – come into force 11 January.

In April

  • The new National Living Wage comes in to force. The minimum wage for workers age 25 and over will be £7.20 – from 1 April.
  • The National Minimum Wage amendment regulations also double the financial penalties if employers are found to have paid less than the minimum – from 1 April.
  • Statutory rates of maternity allowance and statutory maternity pay (SMP), statutory paternity pay (SPP), statutory adoption pay (SAP) and statutory sick pay (SPP) usually increase in April each year. The Government has announced that rates will not be increased this April.
  • Public sector employees will be required to repay a tapering proportion of a ‘qualifying exit payment’ if they return to the public sector within a period of 12 months under regulations – expected to come into force on 1 April. A £95,000 cap on the total value of exit payments for public sector workers will also be introduced, but no date has yet been given for its implementation.

Employment-related Acts and Bills

  • The Trade Union Bill introduced on 15 July 2015 continues its passage through Parliament. It will reform strike laws in Great Britain.
  • The Enterprise Bill introduced on 16 September 2015 continues its passage through Parliament. It includes provisions on apprenticeships and capping exit payments for public sector workers (see above).
  • The Immigration Bill introduced on 17 September 2015 continues its passage through Parliament. It contains more provisions on illegal working, the introduction of a skills charge and a new duty on public authorities to ensure that everyone who works for them in a customer-facing role speaks fluent English.
  • Plans for a Counter-Extremism Bill were announced in the Queen’s Speech and will enable employers to check whether an individual is an extremist and bar them from working with children.

Consultations and reviews

The Ministry of Justice is currently carrying out its commitment to review the impact of employment tribunal fees. The review was announced in summer 2015 and is continuing.

European developments

  • Consolidation of worker information and consultation directives – The European Commission consulted with the social partners on the possible consolidation of three directives: Collective Redundancies, Acquired Rights and Information and Consultation of Workers. The consultation ended on 30 June 2015.
  • Data Protection Directive – final agreement was reached in December 2015 between the Commission, European Parliament and European Council on comprehensive reform of the Directive. The revisions are expected to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and Council and the new rules will apply two years after that date.
  • The Free Movement of Workers Directive – in April 2014, the EU Council of Ministers adopted an enforcement directive to facilitate the free movement of workers in the EU. Member states have two years to implement it at national level.
  • The Posted Workers Directive – is intended to stop worker abuse and ensure that posted workers enjoy their rights relating to holiday and pay.  The Council of Ministers adopted the Directive in May 2014; member states have just over two years to implement it in their national legislation. The UK Government carried out a consultation in 2015 on how it will comply.
  • Working Time Directive review – following a second consultation, the social partners expressed interest in negotiating on the review. Further talks were held but no agreement was reached. In December 2014 the European Commission published an online public consultation on the review which closed in March 2015.

Taken from CIPD, thank you to them.

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