JANUARY 2017 - UK Employment: Highlights in 2016 and Priorities for 2017
The only constant in life is change, and this is certainly true of employment trends and legislation in the UK. The last year was an eventful year for employers, and the year is also set to be busy. We have highlighted the most significant changes in 2016, and have looked forward to priorities for employers in 2017.
HIGHLIGHTS IN 2016
Employment status in the UK was under the spotlight in 2016 due to the increase in Uber drivers and other similar roles in the so called ‘gig economy’. This case examined the drivers for Uber’s taxi company, which Uber believed to be self-employed but the Employment Tribunal found to be workers who have certain employment rights such as holiday and sick pay. If your company rely on temporary workers, who undertake short freelance work for you then this is likely to affect you and we would advise that the employment status of these individuals is reviewed.
National Living Wage
The National Living Wage was introduced in 2016 and therefore all workers 25 and over must now receive a minimum of £7.20 per hour. This will be reviewed annually alongside the other National Minimum Wage Rates, and will increase to £7.50 from April 2017 onwards.
Please note this is a different rate to the Living Wage Foundation Rate which is a voluntary minimum hourly rate which employers can chose to sign up to, to show their responsibility to ensuring employees are being paid a rate which reflects the basic cost of living. This is not a rate you are required to pay by law.
A highly publicised case involving shopping retail giant Asda was heard in 2016. Female check out staff and shelf stackers argued that they should be paid the same as male workers in the distribution centres on the basis that their jobs are of equal value. This is a case to watch for employers in the private sector, as it will bring equal pay under the spotlight once the judgement has been given.
PRIORITIES FOR 2017
New EU General Data Protection Regulation
This regulation is being advised as a ‘high priority’ for employers over 2017. The Regulation does not come into effect until 2018 but employers should review their current policies and processes throughout this year to ensure they do not breach the new regulations. Whilst Brexit is looming, as we will still be part of the EU in May 2018, organisations must be compliant or risk fines of up to €20 million or 4% of annual worldwide turnover, whichever is higher. French Duncan HR will issue further guidance on this in due course.
Salary sacrifice changes
Employers may need to reconsider their benefit offerings as tax savings through many salary sacrifice schemes will be abolished from 6 April 2017.
Pension schemes, childcare vouchers and cycle to work schemes will not be affected. French Duncan’s tax team will be able to assist with any queries related to the salary sacrifice changes.
We expect it to be business as usual for quite some time, however it is inevitable that change is on the cards following the UK’s departure from the EU. The UK is currently bound by many employment laws enacted in Europe and it will take individual Acts of Parliament to change any of these. There is some legislation which we expect to change for example, the Working Time Regulations and health and safety regulations but it will be some time before this is confirmed.
Further Information & Support
If you would like further information on any of the above, French Duncan HR Services would be delighted to assist you. Please contact Louise McCosh who leads the French Duncan HR Services team on 0141 221 2984 or click here to email Louise. Please also see French Duncan HR Services web page for an outline of how we can help your business.