UK: Welcome To 2019: What's Coming Up In Employment Legislation And Case Law?

Last Updated: 10 January 2019
Article by Alacoque Marvin

A look ahead to some of the key changes impacting on employers planned for 2019/20

Although there is considerable uncertainty for employers about the terms on which the UK will leave the EU and the timetable for Brexit, there are some legislative changes impacting on employers which are planned for this year and next. There are also a number of interesting cases due to be heard later this year. We set out here some of the expected highlights of the upcoming employment law year.

Some key legislative changes in 2019 and beyond

  • From 6 April 2019, all workers will have the right to an itemised pay statement which must show the number of hours which have been paid for where the worker is paid by the hour.
  • Companies with 250 or more employees must include in the directors' report an annual statement of engagement with employees (for accounting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2019). This statement must include a summary of how the directors have engaged with employees, how they have had regard to employee interests, and the effect of that regard, including on the principal decisions taken by the company during the financial year.
  • Draft legislation following on from the Good Work Plan, the Government's response to the Taylor Review, is expected to be brought into force in April 2020. This includes: the right for workers on zero hours contracts to request a more stable and predictable contract; the right to a written statement of terms for all workers and employees from day one; changing the reference period for calculating holiday pay for those with variable hours from 12 weeks to 52 weeks; increasing the period required to break continuity of employment from one week to four weeks; extending the rights of agency workers to earn the same pay as permanent staff to those workers who are employed by the agency and have guaranteed pay between assignments (this will involve repealing the "Swedish Derogation"); and making it easier for workers to request an information and consultation arrangement with their employer.
  • From April 2020, the public sector off-payroll working rules will apply to large and medium-sized companies in the private sector.
  • A day-one right to two weeks' leave and statutory pay for employees if they lose a child under 18 is expected to come into force in April 2020.

Possible future legislative developments

  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission is expected to develop a statutory code of practice on sexual harassment in the workplace which may include restrictions on the use of non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases.
  • Evidence given to the House of Commons Justice Committee indicates that the Ministry of Justice is developing a new regime for employment tribunal fees which will strike a balance between helping to fund the tribunal system and being "proportionate and progressive". Permanent Secretary Richard Heaton stated: "We have to get the fee level right. I can see a scheme working that is both progressive and allows people out of paying fees where they can't afford to."
  • Regulations were drafted in 2016 to enable the clawback of exit payments from public sector workers in some circumstances. These have not yet come into force and there is no set timetable for this legislation.
  • No announcements have been made concerning the proposed extension of shared parental leave to grandparents (originally planned to take effect in 2018).

Key employment law cases to be heard in 2019

  • Agoreyo v London Borough of Lambeth: the Court of Appeal will consider whether the suspension of a teacher was a repudiatory breach of contract.
  • Chief Constable of Norfolk v Coffey: the Court of Appeal will consider whether an employee was directly discriminated against on the basis of a perceived, rather than actual, disability.
  • Bamieh v Foreign and Commonwealth Office: the Court of Appeal will consider whether an employment tribunal had jurisdiction to hear the claimant's whistleblowing claims against two overseas colleagues.
  • Egon Zehnder Ltd v Tillman: the Supreme Court will consider whether a restrictive covenant preventing a former employee from being concerned or interested in a competing business (including holding any shares in a publicly quoted company) was valid.
  • Uber BV and others v Aslam: the Supreme Court will consider whether Uber drivers are workers.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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