A round up of the year's statutory rates, providing quick and easy access to information on compensation limits, family friendly payments, statutory sick pay, national minimum wage, disclosure and barring fees and National Insurance contribution thresholds
This timetable outlines the major changes to UK employment legislation 2018-2019, and what's expected in 2020 and beyond. For information on employment law in Northern Ireland, CIPD members can see our factsheet.
Employment legislation in 2018
2 February 2018
Gender pay gap reporting consultation
An Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) consultation on measures to enforce the reporting of organisations’ gender pay gaps closed on this date.
The EHRC’s draft policy document on enforcement says that non-compliance with the regulations will initially be dealt with informally. Employers will need to report their gender pay gap within 42 days of receiving a letter from the EHRC. If this does not happen, the EHRC will investigate whether this amounts to an “unlawful act”, and the employer will be offered the option of a written agreement on compliance. If this option fails, organisations must prepare an action plan for remedying the breach and, if they do not do so, the EHRC could apply to the courts for enforcement. Failure to comply with the court order could be subject to an unlimited fine.
The regulations contain no enforcement penalties; the current proposals are based on the supposition that failing to comply with them is a breach of the Equality Act 2010, and some legal commentators maintain that gender pay reporting is beyond the Act’s scope. However, law firms have warned that the risk of reputational damage to organisations that do not comply is a greater threat than enforcement action.
7 February 2018
Government response to the Taylor report
Matthew Taylor’s report for Government Good Work: the Taylor review of modern working practices, was published on 11 July 2017. The Government’s response to the report, accepting all but one of Taylor’s recommendations, was published in February 2018. It was accompanied by four Government consultations on how best to bring about the suggested reforms, divided into four separate categories:
- Employment status
- Increasing transparency in the labour market
- Agency workers
- Enforcement of employment rights.
See below for more details on each consultation.
30 March 2018
Gender pay gap reporting: first reports (public sector)
‘Specified public authorities’, including government departments, the armed forces, local authorities, the NHS and state schools, with 250 or more employees, were required to publish their first gender pay gap reports by this date, based on data gathered on 31 March 2017.
The same ‘data snapshot’ and reporting dates apply from now on under the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017, which are largely the same as those that apply to private and voluntary sector organisations of the same size (see below).
31 March 2018
'Fit for work' assessment ends
The government announced the scrapping of the ‘Fit for work’ assessment scheme in December 2017.
Launched three years previously, the scheme consisted of a free information service - providing advice on health, work, and managing sickness absence - and a free occupational health assessment service for employees who had reached, or were likely to reach, four weeks of sickness absence. Most referrals were expected to be made by GPs, but employers were also able to refer employees off sick for more than four weeks.
Employers, employees and GPs can still use the ‘Fit for work’ helpline, website and web chat service, but the assessment service closed in England and Wales on 31 March 2018, and in Scotland on 31 May 2018.
The closure, announced alongside a 10-year strategy paper for getting more disabled people into work called Improving lives: the future of work, health and disability, is attributed to a low referral rate.
1 April 2018
National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage
From 1 April 2018:
Workers aged 25 and over: £7.83 an hour (National Living Wage)
Workers aged 21-25: £7.38 an hour
Development rate for workers aged 18-20: £5.90 an hour
Young workers rate for workers aged 16-17: £4.20 an hour
Apprentice rate: £3.70 an hour
For more information, see the Government’s response to the Low Pay Commission’s Autumn 2017 report.
4 April 2018
Gender pay gap reporting: first reports (private and voluntary sector)
Private and voluntary sector employers in England, Wales and Scotland with at least 250 employees are required to publish information about the differences in pay between men and women in their workforce, based on a pay bill ‘snapshot’ date of 5 April 2017, under the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017. The first reports should have been published by 4 April 2018.
Similar reporting requirements apply to larger public sector employers (see above) although the compliance dates are different.
For more information see our Guide to gender pay gap reporting.
Provisions under the Northern Irish Employment Act 2016 mirror these, except they also include fines of up to £5,000 for non-compliance, and a requirement to report on ethnicity and disability pay gaps, as well as gender.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a consultation which closed on 2 February 2018, on proposals to enforce the reporting requirements (see above).
6 April 2018
Tribunal compensation limits increased from 6 April 2018. The new rates are:
- Limit on guaranteed payments – £28
- Limit on a week’s pay – £508
- Maximum basic award for unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy payment – £15,240
- Minimum basic award for unfair dismissal – £6,203
- Maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal – £83,682
For more information and levels of other rates, see Statutory rates and compensation limits.
Family friendly payments and SSP
Statutory maternity (SMP), paternity (SPP), adoption (SAP) and shared parental pay (ShPP) rose from £140.98 to £145.18 a week from 6 April.
Statutory sick pay (SSP) rose from £89.35 to £92.05.
The lower earnings limit rose from £113 to £116.
For more information, see Benefits and pension rates 2018 to 2019 on the GOV.UK website.
Taxation of PILONs and termination payments
The government has introduced this new measure to 'clarify and tighten' the tax treatment of termination payments. By introducing these changes, the government aims to:
Treat all payments in lieu of notice (PILONs) as earnings (subject to tax and class 1 NICs). Effectively, employers will be required to subject to tax an amount equivalent to the employee's basic pay if notice is not worked. This change took effect from 6 April 2018.
Subject all termination payments above the £30,000 threshold to class 1A NICs (employer liability only). This will require new legislation. The change was due to take effect from 6 April 2018, but has been postponed to 6 April 2020.
Permit HM Treasury to vary the £30,000 threshold by regulations.
For more information on the policy, see Income tax and NICs: treatment of termination payments on the Gov.uk website.
23 April 2018
EU whistleblowing directive
The European Commission has proposed a new directive on protecting whistleblowers from dismissal, demotion and other forms of retaliation, while providing them with safe channels for reporting within organisations and to public authorities. The proposals set out minimum standards of protection in specific EU policy areas, such as financial services, product safety, privacy and data protection, and would extend to ‘gig economy’ workers and the self-employed, as well as employees.
Although the new legislation, if adopted by the EU, would only come into force after March 2019, the standards may underpin any post-Brexit EU-UK trade deals.
Restricting employment allowance for illegal working
The government has introduced a further deterrent to employing workers without the right to work in the UK.
From April 2018, employers that have received a Home Office fine for hiring workers illegally, and exhausted the process for appealing against the penalty, will be unable to claim Employment Allowance (which reduces their NI contributions) for one year afterwards.
The details are contained in an HMRC consultation document.
9 May 2018
Agency workers consultation closes
The Taylor review suggested improving pay information for agency workers, and giving them the right to request a direct contract of employment when placed with the same hirer for 12 months.
The Government is considering a number of these changes, including requiring agencies to inform workers who they are actually employed by, who is responsible for paying them and how much they will be paid. The consultation also looks at improving the monitoring of umbrella companies and other intermediary companies in the supply of agency workers. Also under consideration is the ‘Swedish Derogation’, which allows UK agency workers to opt out of entitlements to equal pay with permanent staff.
The consultation closed on 9 May 2018.
16 May 2018
Enforcing employment rights consultation closes
The Taylor review recommended making Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), like the National Minimum Wage, a day one right, with the pay level linked to length of service. The consultation considers whether HMRC should take over responsibility for enforcing SSP for the lowest paid workers.
The consultation also looks at a ‘name and shame’ scheme for employers that fail to pay employment tribunal compensation, and increasing the penalties for employers that commit an aggravated breach of employment law from £5,000 to £20,000 per worker.
The consultation closed 16 May 2018.
23 May 2018
Transparency in the labour market consultation closes
The Government has accepted the need for greater clarity over employment rights recommended by the Taylor report and this consultation looks at whether employers should provide enhanced written statements of employment particulars to all workers, not just employees. The consultation also considers include changing the rules on breaks in continuous service to make it easier for casual workers to claim redundancy payments or unfair dismissal compensation.
This consultation also looks at extending the holiday pay reference period for zero hours workers from 12 to 52 weeks, and at other ways that workers without fixed hours might receive holiday pay more flexibly.
The consultation closed on 23 May 2018.
25 May 2018
General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies to all EU Member States, including the UK, from 25 May 2018.
The GDPR strengthens existing data protection rules through a number of measures, including:
- an expansion of individual data protection rights, including the right to be forgotten
- toughening the rules on individual consent to processing sensitive data
- shortening the time scale for responding to ‘subject access requests’ from 40 days to one month, and removing the £10 fee
- requiring organisations to report any data breaches which ‘risk the rights and freedoms of the individual’ to the regulatory authority and, where there’s a high risk of this, to the individual affected as well.
Breaches of the GDPR may lead to fines of up to 20 million Euros or 4 per cent of global turnover, whichever is the greater. Enforcement of the new rules in the UK rests with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
On 13 September 2017, the government introduced a new Data Protection Bill to:
- set new standards for protecting general data in accordance with the GDPR, while retaining certain UK exemptions
- replace the UK’s existing Data Protection Act 1998
- implement the EU’s law enforcement directive (concerned with the prevention, detection and prosecution of criminal offences).
The Bill received Royal Assent on 23 May to become the Data Protection Act 2018 which became law on 25 May.
The ICO has a range of information and resources especially designed for organisations. CIPD members can also see our Data protection, surveillance and privacy at work law Q&As.
1 June 2018
Employment status consultation closes
The Taylor report suggested renaming those eligible for worker (rather than employee) rights as ‘dependent contractors’ and providing this category of worker with additional employment protections, including the right to a written statement of particulars, minimum pay rights, and the right to rolled-up holiday pay. The report also recommended enhancing self-employed rights to include pension provision and parental leave.
The Government has agreed there should be greater clarity over employment status, and this consultation seeks views on a range of options including new legislation to incorporate existing case law guidance on the gig economy, and aligning the tests for employment status and tax purposes.
The consultation closed on 1 June 2018.
17 July 2018
Executive pay gap reporting regulations
New regulations under the Companies Act 2006, made on 17 July 2018, require UK listed companies with more than 250 UK employees to report annually on the pay gap between their chief executive and their average UK worker, from 2020 onwards.
Around 900 businesses will have to state, in their directors’ remuneration report, the pay gap between their CEO and a representative employee from the:
- 25th pay percentile
- median pay band
- 75th pay percentile.
Companies can choose between three options for calculating the pay gap, but must account for their choice in the report. They must also say, in their annual reports, what action they’ve taken to improve employee engagement and consultation.
The new regulations come in to force on 1 January 2019.
23 July 2018
Caste discrimination legislation dropped
In a response to a consultation that took place in 2017, the government has decided not to go ahead with an option to add caste to the definition of race as a ‘protected characteristic’ under the Equality Act 2010. A provision allowing for the amendment, inserted into the Act in 2013, will be repealed.
The government has instead decided to rely on case law to reinforce its position that caste discrimination is unacceptable, following an Employment Appeal Tribunal decision in the case Tirkey v Chandhok (2015). The EAT decided that the Act’s definition of race discrimination already covers caste where this relates to ethnic origin. The case is binding on tribunals, and the government has said it will support a case on caste in a higher court, if appropriate.
(Members can read more on the Tirkey case by going to our Case law on race discrimination page.)
30 July 2018
Enquiry into sex discrimination
The House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee is collecting evidence on how well the Equality Act 2010 is working.
The committee has already made a number of recommendations, following enquiries into pregnancy and maternity, transgender and older worker discrimination, workplace sexual harassment, and other issues covered by the Act. These include:
- extending time limits for pregnancy/maternity and sexual harassment claims
- increasing the use of the EHRC’s enforcement powers
- increasing regulators’ involvement in tackling discrimination in regulated organisations.
The deadline for submissions to the current enquiry is 5 October 2018.
2 August 2018
Extending gender pay gap reporting to SMEs
The House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy select committee has recommended that gender pay gap reporting should be extended to companies with 50 or more employees from 2020.
Its report, published on 2 August, also recommends:
- making narrative reporting and action plans mandatory rather than optional extras
- including partner salaries in the pay gap calculation
- revising government guidance on current ambiguities (such as how bonuses should be calculated)
- providing specific fines as part of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission enforcement powers.
10 August 2018
IR35 private sector consultation closes
The IR35 rules, introduced in 2000, are aimed at reducing tax avoidance for people working off-payroll through personal service companies (PSCs). HMRC estimates that only 10 per cent of the PSCs that should be applying the rules actually do so. To address this, the government switched responsibility for deciding whether IR35 applied from contractors to end-users in April 2017, but only for PSCs operating in the public sector.
Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed in the Spring Statement 2018 that the government was considering extending the rule change to the private sector.
On 18 May an HMRC consultation opened, proposing to make private sector employers responsible for accounting for tax and employer NI contributions for workers engaged through intermediaries. The consultation closed on 10 August.
23 August 2018
Workplace rights in a ‘no-deal’ Brexit
Government guidance, published on this date, confirms there will be no overall changes to workplace rights in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
The technical notices specify that rights derived from EU law – such as annual paid leave and other working time rights, family friendly rights, protection from discrimination, harassment and victimisation, and from less favourable treatment for agency, part-time and fixed-term workers – will continue to apply after 29 March 2019.
There are only two areas of change specified: employees working for a UK employer outside of the UK may not be protected in the event of their employer becoming insolvent, and no new requests may be made to set up a European Works Council in the UK after that date.
For more on the implications of Brexit for employers, visit our Brexit hub.
13 September 2018
Extension to gender pay gap reporting postponed
The government confirmed on this date that it had no immediate plans to extend the gender pay gap reporting regulations, but would review and evaluate their effectiveness in five years’ time.
The government was responding to a report from the Commons Treasury select committee which recommended extending the regulations to include equity partners, and company subsidiaries with fewer than 250 employees.
Earlier in the summer (2 August 2018), a Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee report proposed, among other suggested reforms, extending the regulations to organisations with 50 employees or more from 2020, making it compulsory to publish a narrative and action plan alongside the figures, and giving the Equality and Human Rights Commission specific powers to fine organisations for non-compliance.
The Government Equalities Office, which collects the pay gap data, has published a ‘What works’ guide to closing pay disparities.
26 September 2018
Consultation on employment tribunals
The Law Commission, a statutory body which is independent of government, issued a consultation on this date, highlighting some aspects of the employment tribunal system that may be in need of reform.
The consultation asks a number of questions, including:
- whether the time limits for bringing a claim (generally three months) should be extended, and a legal test introduced for tribunals to use when deciding if an extension is justified
- whether tribunals should be able to hear breach of contract claims before employment has ended, and whether the current £25,000 cap on awards should be increased
- whether respondents to a discrimination claim should be able share liability with, or be entitled to a contribution from, a co-respondent in the case (including, potentially, any employee for whose actions the respondent is vicariously liable).
The consultation closes on 11 January 2019.
4 October 2018
Abolition of childcare vouchers
The workplace childcare voucher system, and the directly contracted childcare scheme (childcare provided by the employer), are closed to new entrants from 4 October 2018. The schemes’ closure, due on 5 April 2018, was delayed by six months, following a vote in Parliament.
The abolition is among changes made as part of the rollout of universal credit. The employer-backed vouchers are to be replaced by a new system of tax-free childcare, entitling families to claim up to £2,000 per child.
11 October 2018
Consultation on ethnicity pay gap reporting
The government has launched a consultation on introducing pay gap reporting based on ethnicity, as a result of its Race Disparity Audit conducted during 2017. The audit found significant disparities in the pay and progression of employees from black and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds compared to their white colleagues.
The consultation proposes a number of different approaches to calculating the pay gap, and asks whether organisations should be required to publish narrative information alongside the figures, or whether this should remain voluntary, as in gender pay gap reporting. The suggested reporting threshold - 250 employees – mirrors these regulations.
The consultation closes on 11 January 2019. Its publication coincides with the launch of a ‘Race at Work Charter’, committing organisations that sign up to a set of principles and actions on encouraging the recruitment and progression of BAME employees. Read our comment.
26 October 2018
Bill on definition of 'worker’
Scottish MP Chris Stephens has introduced a Workers (Definition and Rights) Bill under the Parliamentary private members’ 10-minute rule in 2017. The Bill would ban zero hours contracts, except where their use was agreed with the individual’s trade union, and clarify the definition of ‘worker’ in the light of recent case law from the Supreme Court. The bill is due to pass to the second stage in the Parliamentary procedure in October 2018.
Private Members’ Bills usually need the backing of the government to become law.
13 November 2018
Non-disclosure agreements enquiry
The Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee has launched an enquiry into the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in cases involving any form of harassment or other discrimination, including pregnancy or maternity discrimination, or racist abuse. The committee has already recommended a review of how NDAs are being used in sexual harassment cases.
Written evidence is requested on a number of issues, including whether NDAs (sometimes referred to as ‘gagging clauses’) should be banned, or safeguards introduced to prevent misuse, and whether organisations should be required to disclose the number and types of NDAs they enter into.
The enquiry closes on 28 November 2018.
14 December 2018
Right to work checks online
The Home Office’s online right to work checking service, launched in April 2018, no longer needs applicants’ paper documentation to establish an individual is lawfully able to work in the UK from the 14 December onwards. The online service is open to non-EEA nationals with a biometric residence permit and EEA nationals who have been granted settled status. Individuals will be able to view what information will be shared with employers in advance. EEA nationals without settled status will still need to provide the appropriate documents to prove their right to work.
For more on carrying out pre-employment checks, visit our guide.
17 December 2018
‘Good work plan’ on employment rights
The government published a policy paper on this date, re-confirming its commitment to strengthening existing employment rights, following the Taylor review into ‘Good work’ in July 2017.
Among the planned or proposed reforms in the Good work plan are measures to:
- give zero hours workers the right to request a more stable contract
- give all workers a day one right to a statement of their terms and conditions
- produce new legislation on defining employment status
- lengthen the reference period for calculating holiday pay from 12 weeks to 52 weeks
- abolish the Swedish derogation on paying agency workers between assignments
- allow casual workers a four-week gap between assignments without losing continuity of employment (currently broken after one week).
The policy paper does not contain draft legislation, or a timetable for the reforms, but new regulations have been produced for those changes which the government committed to earlier in the year (see entries for 2019 and 2020).
Read our response to the reforms.
Consultation on NMW and salary sacrifice schemes
The government has launched a consultation on whether the National Minimum Wage rules need to be updated to better fit modern working practices, and whether the rules are unfairly penalising employers operating salary sacrifice schemes for company benefits.
Currently whether or not employers are paying the statutory minimums is assessed on a weekly or monthly basis, and companies have argued that staff are often paid fortnightly or four-weekly in some sectors. Some employers have decided to withdraw salary sacrifice schemes that provide tax benefits for both employee and employer in order to avoid non-compliance of the NMW.
The consultation closes on 1 March 2019.
18 December 2018
Code of practice on sexual harassment
The government stated on this date its intention to introduce a new statutory code of practice on dealing with workplace sexual harassment, which would include what actions employers need to take to prevent it and how staff can report it.
The code, which will be developed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, was among a package of 12 measures designed to tackle sexual harassment at work. They included consultations on:
- strengthening the law with regard to non-disclosure agreements
- introducing a new legal duty for employers to prevent sexual harassment (including from third parties)
- protecting interns and volunteers from all forms of discrimination
- extending the three-month time limit for bringing a discrimination claim.
Naming and shaming for unpaid tribunal awards
Following a recommendation in the Taylor report, employers who fail to pay tribunal awards of £200 or more will be ‘named and shamed’ in a new scheme to run alongside the existing penalty scheme for unpaid awards set up in 2016. Claimants have to register their award with the scheme and the new rules will apply to awards registered on or after 18 December 2018.
Employers that receive a penalty notice will be warned about the public naming and will then have 14 days to make representations to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to prevent it. Acceptable criteria for stopping the naming include a risk of personal harm to the claimant or other employees or being able to show the publication would not be in the public interest. BEIS has produced guidance on the new scheme.
19 December 2018
Immigration white paper
The government published its long awaited white paper on immigration arrangements that will apply when free movement of EU workers ends following Brexit.
The proposals for a new skills-based immigration system, that will apply both to EU migrants and those from elsewhere, follow the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee and include:
- removing the annual cap on the number of work visas that can be issued
- widening the skills threshold to include migrants with A-level equivalent qualifications
- ending the labour market test for employers wishing to sponsor a worker.
The government is to consult on what would be an appropriate salary threshold (currently £30,000 a year) for the skilled migrant route. There is also to be a new 12-month temporary work visa for workers of any skill level.
1 Jan 2019 – Executive pay gap reporting in force
From this date, regulations made under the Companies Act 2006 require UK listed companies with more than 250 UK employees to report annually on the pay gap between their chief executive and their average UK worker.
The first reports are due in 2020.
See 17 July 2018 - Executive pay gap reporting regulations for more details.
25 Jan 2019 – Consultation on extending pregnancy protection
The government has produced a consultation on extending discrimination protection during pregnancy and maternity. The proposals build on evidence of discrimination against pregnant women and new parents from BEIS, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and the Taylor report, and recommendations from the Women and Equalities Select Committee.
The proposals include extending the ‘protected period’ to six months after the new mother returns to work – currently the special protections against redundancy finish when maternity leave ends, or two weeks after pregnancy ends for women not entitled to maternity leave. Giving parents returning from adoption or shared parental leave the same rights is also proposed.
The consultation closes on 5 April 2019.
30 Mar 2019 - EU settlement scheme fully open
A scheme to protect EU citizens’ right to remain in the UK once freedom of movement ends following Brexit will be fully open to applications from 30 March 2019, having been piloted since January.
EU citizens who have already been in the UK for five years may apply for settled status, while those who have been here for under five years can apply for pre-settled status. All EU citizens will need to apply, even if they already have permanent residency in the UK, and applications can be made up until the end of transitional period under the withdrawal agreement. The new status is not dependent on employment.
The process is fully digital, can be completed on a smart phone, and is free from 30 March (previously there was a £65 charge).
From January 2021 a new immigration system will apply to EU and non-EU citizens.
For more information and resources on Brexit and employment, visit our Brexit hub.
30 Mar 2019 – Gender pay gap reports (public sector)
‘Specified public authorities’, including government departments, the armed forces, local authorities, the NHS and state schools, with 250 or more employees, are required to publish their gender pay gap reports by this date, based on data gathered on 31 March each year.
The requirements for the reports, under the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017, are largely the same as those that apply to private and voluntary sector organisations of the same size (see below).
31 Mar 2019 – Modern slavery statement ‘naming and shaming’
The Home Office will be conducting an audit of annual anti-slavery statements and publishing a list of businesses that have failed to publish their statement for the 2018 financial year by 31 March 2019 deadline.
The ‘naming and shaming’ is seen as a prelude to strengthening the reporting requirements under the legislation and, possibly, introducing sanctions for non-compliance.
For more on modern slavery statements, read our Corporate governance factsheet.
1 Apr 2019 – National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage
Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the Budget 2018 new National Minimum/Living Wage from 1 April 2019 as:
- Workers aged 25 and over - £8.21 an hour (National Living Wage)
- Workers aged 21-24 - £7.70 an hour
- Development rate for workers aged 18-20 - £6.15 an hour
- Young workers rate for workers aged 16-17 - £4.35 an hour
- Apprentice rate (workers under 19 or in first year of apprenticeship) - £3.90 an hour.
More information is available on the GOV.UK website.
4 Apr 2019 – Gender pay gap reports (private and voluntary sectors)
Private and voluntary sector employers in England, Wales and Scotland with at least 250 employees are required to publish information about the differences in pay and bonuses between men and women in their workforce, based on a ‘snapshot’ date of 5 April each year, under the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017. The first set of reports was published in 2018, and the second reports are due by 4 April 2019.
Similar reporting requirements apply to larger public sector employers (see above).
Provisions under the Northern Irish Employment Act 2016 mirror these, except they include fines of up to £5,000 for non-compliance, and a requirement to report on ethnicity and disability pay gaps, as well as gender.
For more information on gender pay gap reporting, see our topic page.
6 Apr 2019 – Good work plan: employer penalties for breaches
The government’s ‘Good work plan’, published in December 2018, made a commitment to increase the penalties for employers that repeatedly breach their employment law obligations. Tribunals have the power to impose a £5,000 ‘aggravated breach’ penalty on employers losing cases, and from 6 April 2019, the maximum limit on these penalties will rise to £20,000.
The change is contained in Part 1 of the Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019.
6 Apr 2019 - Pay slip changes
Two important changes to the Employment Rights Act 1996, affecting pay slip information, will come into force on 6 April:
- Employers must include the total number of hours worked where the pay varies according the hours worked, for example under variable hours or zero hours contracts.
- Payslips must be given to ‘workers’ and not just employees.
The government issued guidance on the new requirements on 13 December 2018.
For more information, CIPD members can also see our Terms and conditions of employment law Q&As.
6 Apr 2019 – Compensation limits
Tribunal compensation limits increase from 6 April 2019. The new rates are:
- Limit on guaranteed payments – £29
- Limit on a week’s pay – £525
- Maximum basic award for unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy payment – £15,750
- Minimum basic award for unfair dismissal – £6,408
- Maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal – £86,444
For more information and levels of other rates, see Statutory rates and compensation limits.
On the same date, the Vento bands for calculating injury to feelings awards in discrimination claims for England and Wales increased as follows:
- Lower band £900-£8,800
- Middle band £8,800-£26,300
- Upper band £26,300-£44,000.
For more information, see Presidential guidance Vento bands (pdf)
7 Apr 2019 – Statutory maternity, paternity etc rates
Statutory maternity (SMP), paternity (SPP), adoption (SAP) and shared parental pay (ShPP) rises from £145.18 to £148.68 a week from 7 April 2019.
The lower earnings limit rises from £116 to £118 on the same date.
For more information, see Benefits and pension rates 2019 to 2020 on the GOV.UK website.
20 May 2019 - WEC pregnancy and maternity redundancy protection Bill
Women and Equalities Committee (WEC) chair Maria Miller introduced on this date a Bill to extend protection against redundancy for pregnant women and mothers. The Pregnancy and Maternity (Redundancy Protection) Bill 2019 would prohibit redundancy during, and for six months after, pregnancy and maternity leave, except in certain circumstances. The Bill does not have government backing and stands little chance of becoming law without it.
The Bill follows a Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) consultation on the same issue (see 25 January 2019 above) and research which found that one in nine women had been dismissed, or felt forced to resign, after returning from maternity leave. The government has yet to publish a response to its consultation.
29 May 2019 – Proposed expansion of shortage occupation list
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which advises the government on immigration matters, has recommended increasing the shortage occupation list to cover around 9% of jobs in the labour market (including nurses, computer programmers, web designers, and chefs working in food takeaways) instead of the 1% the list currently covers. The shortage occupation list allows employers to offer work to non-EU nationals without carrying out a resident labour market test.
The MAC recommendations follow a full review of the shortage occupation list and acknowledges the increasing difficulty employers face in recruiting skilled employees in a shrinking labour market. Its review related to the current immigration system and the MAC has suggested a further review will be required post-Brexit.
For more information, see the MAC’s ‘Full review of the shortage occupation list’.
11 July 2019 - Consultation on sexual harassment
The Government Equalities Office has published a consultation on whether the current laws designed to protect workforces from sexual harassment at work are adequate.
The consultation asks:
- how to ensure organisations take all possible steps to prevent harassment
- whether there should be a mandatory duty on organisations to protect workers from harassment, accompanied by a statutory Code of Practice
- whether employers should be required to monitor and report externally on preventing and dealing with instances of sexual harassment
- how to strengthen the law on third-party harassment
- whether interns and volunteers are adequately protected
- whether there should be a timeframe longer than the current three months for bringing a harassment, discriminations or victimisation claim in a tribunal.
The consultation closes on 2 October 2019.
15 July 2019 – Consultation on extension of sick pay to lowest paid
The government has produced ‘proposals to reduce ill-health related job loss’ aimed at encouraging employers to take early action on long-term health conditions and improve access to cost-effective occupational health. The proposals include:
- changing the legal framework so that employees would be able to request workplace modifications for health reasons without being disabled within the definition of the Equality Act 2010 (employers would be able to refuse such requests for business reasons)
- extending SSP to those below the Lower Earnings Limit by paying it as a proportion of employees’ wages, paying a proportion of SSP during a phased return to work, and increasing fines for non-payment of SSP
- increasing market capacity for, and improving the quality and value of, occupational health provision
- increasing fines for non-payment of SSP, and putting the new single labour market enforcement body in charge of enforcement.
The consultation closes on 7 October 2019.
16 July 2019 – Good work plan: consultation on single enforcement body
The government has put forward proposals to create a new single enforcement body for employment rights responsible for:
- enforcing the payment of the national minimum wage
- tackling labour exploitation and modern slavery
- safeguarding holiday payments for vulnerable workers
- ensuring agency workers are not underpaid.
The new body would pick up the work of the DWP on enforcing statutory sick pay, provide an additional route for tackling sexual harassment alongside the EHRC, take over enforcing tribunal awards from BEIS, and be responsible for specific aspects of annual leave for vulnerable workers (although the HSE will still be in charge of enforcing the Working Time Regulations in general).
Matthew Taylor, whose ‘Good work’ review for the government suggested the single enforcement body, takes on the role of Director of Labour Market Enforcement for one year from 1 August 2019.
The consultation closes on 6 October 2019.
19 July 2019 – Good work plan: consultations on parental leave and flexibility
The government has published a consultation document, stemming from its ‘Good work plan’, on strengthening support for working families. The consultation covers three aspects of protecting parents at work:
- parental leave and pay
- neonatal leave and pay
- transparency of flexible working and family related leave and pay policies.
The first part of the consultation asks for views, but doesn’t contain proposals, on issues such as paternity leave and pay, whether there should be a shared pot of pay for parental pay, rather than mothers continuing to control the system, whether shared parental pay should be enhanced, or whether there should a complete overhaul of family leave entitlements.
The second part of the consultation proposes a new ‘day one’ right to neonatal leave for parents of seriously ill babies needing two weeks or more hospital care. The amount of leave will be capped and paid at the statutory rate subject to the qualifying conditions for paternity pay.
The third part asks whether employers with 250 or more staff should be required to publish details of their family friendly policies, including flexible working arrangements, on their websites, and whether job ads should be required to state an organisation’s approach to flexibility.
The consultation on parental leave and pay closes on 29 November, and the consultations on neonatal leave and pay, and transparency on flexible working, close on 11 October 2019.
On the same date, the government launched a consultation on addressing unfair flexible working practices, seeking views on proposals from the Low Pay Commission on providing:
- a right to reasonable notice of working hours
- appropriate compensation for workers’ shifts cancelled without reasonable notice.
This consultation also closes on 11 October.
21 July 2019 – Misuse of non-disclosure agreements
The government is to legislate to tackle the misuse of confidentiality clauses (also known as non-disclosure agreements, or NDAs) in employment contracts and settlement agreements, including those being used to cover up sexual harassment and racial discrimination.
In its ‘measures to prevent misuse’ document, the government undertakes to legislate so that:
- NDAs cannot be used to stop disclosures to the police, and legal and health care professionals
- the limits on NDAs are clearly set out in contracts and settlement agreements
- the independent legal advice received by those agreeing to clauses is enhanced.
The government also says it will ensure that enforcement measures for unlawful NDAs appear in written particulars and settlement agreements, and will produce guidance for legal professionals on drafting confidentiality clauses. It is already the law that an employee must receive legal advice before signing an NDA, and that an NDA can’t prevent whistleblowing ‘in the public interest’.
The measures are in response to a consultation (pdf) conducted earlier in the year. The government says it will legislate when Parliamentary time allows, and will consider responses to its recently launched consultation on sexual harassment (see above) when looking at future changes.
22 July 2019 – Extending pregnancy protection from redundancy
An employee at risk of redundancy while on maternity, adoption, or shared parental leave has the right to be offered any suitable alternative vacancy that is available.
The government is proposing to extend this protection to:
- pregnant employees, once they have told their employer of their pregnancy
- employees returning from maternity or adoption leave within the previous six months
- parents returning from shared parental leave (although how the limits on this right will operate is still to be worked out).
The proposals are in response to a consultation earlier in the year on pregnancy and maternity discrimination. The government has said that legislation will be brought forward when Parliamentary time allows.
2020 and beyond
6 Apr 2020 – Good work plan: agency workers, annual leave, statement of terms
In the ‘Good work plan’, published in December 2018, the government made a commitment to abolish a legal loophole known as the ‘Swedish derogation’ in the rules governing the use of agency workers. This allowed agencies to opt out of equalising the pay of agency staff with the permanent workforce when they had been with the same employer for more than 12 weeks, provided they paid the agency workers between assignments.
The opt-out will cease on 6 April 2020 when the Agency Workers (Amendment) Regulations 2019 come into force.
The government is also lengthening the reference period for determining an average week’s pay from 12 weeks to 52 weeks from 6 April 2020 - see the Employment Rights (Employment Particulars and Paid Annual Leave) (Amendment) Regulations 2018. The reform is intended to improve the holiday pay for seasonal workers, who tend to lose out over the way it is currently calculated.
A third change will extend the entitlement to receive a statement of ‘written particulars’ (on basic employment terms and conditions) to include workers as well as employees and make it a day one right (see Part 3 of Employment Rights (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019). Currently employers have up to two months to issue the statement to any employee working for them for more than a month.
6 Apr 2020 - Tax on termination payments
The government’s plans to make any part of a termination payment over the sum of £30,000 subject to employer NICs is due to become law on this date. This change was delayed from April 2018 (see '6 Apr 2018 - Taxation of PILONs and termination payments' above).
6 Apr 2020 – Extension of IR35 to private sector
Former Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the October Budget 2018 that the IR35 tax rules would be extended to the private sector from April 2020.
The rules are aimed at reducing tax avoidance for off-payroll contractors working through personal service companies (PSC). Since April 2017, public sector employers have been responsible for deciding whether IR35 applies, and for deducting tax and NICs from contractors’ fees paid through PSCs when it does not. From 6 April 2020, the new rules will also apply to private sector businesses with an annual turnover of over £10.2 million or 50 or more employees.
HMRC has issued guidance on the new rules, Prepare for changes to the off-payroll working rules (IR35), and draft regulations and a further consultation on 11 July 2019.
2020 – Executive pay gap reports published
For more information, see 1 Jan 2019 – Executive pay gap reporting in force above.
2020 - Parental bereavement provision
In October 2017, the government confirmed its backing for a private members’ bill, the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill. The Bill, which became the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act on 13 September 2018, will entitle employees who lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from the 24th week of pregnancy, to two weeks’ unpaid leave, as a right from day one of their employment.
The leave will be paid at the statutory rate (see our Statutory rates and compensation limits) if the employee has 26 weeks’ service. The government is aiming for the new law to be in force in 2020.
Employed parents are already entitled to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, including dealing with a dependant’s death, as a day one right.
Currently on hold – Grandparental leave
A proposal to extend shared parent leave (SPL) to working grandparents by 2018, made by David Cameron’s government, has been put on hold pending a fuller evaluation of the SPL scheme. No date has been set for the introduction of any changes.
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