UK: Employment Law Update - January 2019

Last Updated: 6 March 2019
Article by Tina Chander

Brexit

Given that the Prime Minister lost the vote on her withdrawal agreement on 15 January, survived Labour's vote of no confidence, and returned to Parliament on 21 January having tweaked her original agreement, we are still no closer to knowing what arrangements will, or will not be, in place by 29 March 2019. Suffice it say that employers should continue to operate on the basis that employment law will not suddenly, nor radically, change in the foreseeable future. The government has incorporated all current EU legislation into the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and there is an expectation that most elements of EU-derived employment legislation will be retained in one form or another once we have exited the Union – whenever that might occur.

The Good Work Plan

The government published the Good Work Plan in December 2018 in response to the Taylor Review. Those measures for which legislation has been published are due to come into force in April 2020 and include:

  • a right for workers to request a more stable, predictable contract;
  • an increase in the period required to break continuity of employment from one to four weeks;
  • a ban on deductions from staff tips;
  • a commitment to improve the clarity of the employment status tests

There is also a commitment to introduce measures to enable the naming and shaming of those employers that do not pay tribunal awards on time; and a significant increase in fines (from £5000 to £20,000) for those employers that breach employment rights.

Pay ratio reporting

On 1 January 2019, all companies with more than 250 employees will have to publish the ratio between CEO and average staff pay. This is effective for accounting periods starting from 1 January 2019 so all affected companies will need to start publishing their figures in 2020.

Pay slips

From 6 April 2019, all pay slips must include the number of hours an employee has worked if their pay varies in relation to time worked. This change is to introduce greater clarity for those people whose pay fluctuates because they work variable hours.

Consultations

National Minimum Wage: The government launched a consultation in December 2018 to ascertain if some aspects of NMW legislation need amending, so that they do not inadvertently penalise employers, specifically around the rules on "salaried hours work" and the impact of the NMW rules on salary sacrifice schemes. The consultation closes on 1 March 2019.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/salaried-workers-and-salary-sacrifice-schemes-changing-the-national-minimum-wage-rules

Employment tribunal rules: The Law Commission's consultation on employment tribunal reform ended on 11 January 2019. It sought views on whether the three month time limit on tribunal claims should be changed. We will report on their conclusions in due course.

https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/consultation-launched-into-how-employment-law-disputes-are-decided/

YEAR: your employment annual retainer

Reduce the time you spend dealing with HR matters, and make sure that you comply with an increasingly complex area of law, by joining our YEAR club. Your annual membership fee covers a range of services from an initial review of your HR documents, email and telephone support, and discounted rates for onsite visits - click here for the complete list. For more information please contact Tina Chander or visit our website: https://www.wrighthassall.co.uk/knowledge/legal-articles/2017/04/28/wright-hassall-launches-annual-employment-retainer/

Case update

Individual directors personally liable for whistleblowing compensation claim

Timis and another v Osipov

https://www.employmentcasesupdate.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed37824

Mr Osipov, the CEO of International Petroleum Limited was summarily dismissed (by email) by one of the company's non-executive directors and major shareholders, Mr Timis, following protected disclosures made by Mr Osipov relating to governance issues. Mr Osipov successfully brought both an unfair dismissal claim and a whistleblowing claim for detriment against both the company and Mr Timis and a fellow director. He was awarded compensation of £1.7m. The individual defendants appealed on the basis that they could not be held personally liable and that the claim for detriment could only be pursued against the corporate entity. The EAT dismissed their appeal, as did the Court of Appeal, with the latter noting that the Equality Act 2010 allows for individual liability for discrimination claims on grounds of a protected characteristic. This case illustrates the importance of understanding the law around whistleblowing and having policies in place that not only recognise what constitutes whistleblowing, but also how to deal with such claims appropriately.

And finally...

"There is no such whetstone, to sharpen a good wit and encourage a will to learning, as is praise" (Roger Ascham, 1515-1568, Cambridge scholar and tutor to Elizabeth 1)

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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