This timetable outlines the major changes to employment legislation in 2015 and 2016 and what is expected to be forthcoming in 2017 and 2018. For information on employment law in Northern Ireland see our factsheet.

Employment legislation in 2015

5 January 2015

Employment agencies recruitment advertising

The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/3351) came into force on 5 January 2015 and prohibits employment agencies and employment businesses from advertising jobs exclusively in other European Economic Area countries without advertising in Great Britain. The ban only applies to employment agencies and employment businesses operating in Great Britain.

10 March 2015

Data protection: subject access rights

Section 56 of the Data Protection 1998 (DPA) prevents employers from requiring people to use their subject access rights under the DPA to provide certain records as a condition of employment. Requiring people to provide the records will become a criminal offence, punishable by a fine. Section 56 was brought into force on 10 March 2016 by the Data Protection Act 1998 (Commencement No. 4) Order 2015 (SI2015/312).

For more information see our Data protection, surveillance and privacy at work Q&As (Member only)

26 March 2015

Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015

Receiving Royal Assent on 26 March 2015 the Act contains provisions to improve gender pay gap reporting under the Equality Act 2010, introduce annual reporting on whistleblowing disclosures, limit employment tribunal postponements and penalise employers who do not pay an employment tribunal award. Also includes provisions to prevent use of exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts and setting a maximum penalty for underpaying the national minimum wage on a per worker basis rather than per notice.

Deregulation Act 2015

Receiving Royal Assent 26 March 2015 the Act aims to reduce the burden of excessive regulation on businesses and repeal legislation which is no longer of any practical use. Introduces approved English apprenticeships and changes to the Equality Act 2010 to remove the power of employment tribunals to issue wider recommendations in successful discrimination cases.

27 March 2015

Reserve Forces financial assistance

The Reserve Forces (Call-Out and Recall) (Financial Assistance) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/460) amend the Reserve Forces (Call-Out and Recall) (Financial Assistance) Regulations 2005 (SI 2005/859) regarding financial assistance to reservists and employers during mobilisation and came into force on 27 March 2015.

For more information see our Reserve forces Q&As (Member only).

5 April 2015

Shared parental leave and pay

The new shared parental leave scheme was introduced under the Children and Families Act 2014. It applies to parents whose babies were due on or after 5 April 2015, or who had children placed for adoption on or after that date and was brought into effect by various sets of legislation. 

For more information see our factsheet on shared parental leave (Member only).

Adoption leave and pay

For all employees who are having a child or children matched with them or placed for adoption on or after 5 April 2015 they are entitled to:

  • Time off to attend introductory appointments.
  • 52 weeks adoption leave (26 weeks' continuous employment is no longer necessary).
  • The right to 52 weeks adoption leave is available to the employed ‘primary’ adopter with the two weeks paternity leave for ‘secondary’ adopters.

For more information see our Maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption leave and pay Q&As (Member only).

Parental leave

Under the Maternity and Parental Leave etc. (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/3221) which came into force on 5 March 2015 the right to take unpaid parental leave will be extended to parents of any child under the age of 18.

For more information see our Parental rights and family-friendly provisions Q&As (Member only).

Family-friendly payments

Under the Welfare Benefits Uprating Order 2015 (SI 2015/30) the statutory maternity pay (SMP), statutory paternity pay (SPP), statutory additional paternity pay (ASPP), statutory adoption pay (SAP) and statutory shared parental pay (ShPP) rates increased to £139.58 a week from 5 April 2015.

For more information see our Statutory rates and compensation limits page (Member only).

6 April 2015

Statutory sick pay

Statutory sick pay (SSP) increased to £88.45 a week from 6 April 2015.

For more information see our Statutory rates and compensation limits page (Member only).

Tribunal compensation limits 2015

The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2015 (SI 2015/226) came into force in Great Britain on 6 April 2015. It increases the limit on certain tribunal awards. A week's pay increased to £475 and the cap on the compensatory award increased to £78,335. Apply where the effective date of termination is on or after 6 April 2015.

26 May 2015

For more information see our Statutory rates and compensation limits page (Member only).

Zero hours contracts: exclusivity clauses

Under the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 any term of a contract which tries to prevent a zero hours worker from working under another contract became unenforceable from 26 May 2015.

For more information see our factsheet on zero hours contracts.

Penalty for underpayment of NMW

Sets a maximum £20,000 penalty for underpaying the national minimum wage on a per worker basis rather than per notice from 26 May 2015.

For more information see government policy on enforcing NMW and National Living Wage (NLW).

English apprenticeships

The Deregulation Act 2015 introduces 'approved English apprenticeships' taking place under 'approved English apprenticeship agreements' which came into force on 26 May 2015. The new apprenticeships replaces 'apprenticeship agreements' introduced under the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009.

These reforms are part of proposals to simplify the regulation of apprenticeships in England, making it more flexible and responsive to the needs of employers.

For more information see government guidance on developing new apprenticeships .

31 July 2015

Holiday pay: two year limitation on backdated claims

The Deduction from Wages (Limitation) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/3322) which came into force on 8 January 2015 introduce a two year limitation on unfair reduction from wages claims in respect of holiday pay. This is in order to impose clear time limits following the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decision in Bear Scotland Ltd v Fulton and conjoined cases. The two year limitation will apply to claims presented on or after 1 July 2015 and claims presented before that date are subject to the existing legislation on limitation. The new limitation period is applied only to the first category of deductions from wages under the Employment Rights Act 1996.

The Regulations also implicitly state that the right to paid holiday is a statutory right and not incorporated as a contractual term in employment contracts (this is to try and prevent employees getting around the two year limit by using the normal six year time limit for contractual claims). This provision came into force on 8 January 2015.

For more information see our Annual leave and holiday pay Q&As (Member only).

1 October 2015

National minimum wage rates 2015

The National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/971) brought the following increases to the national minimum wage (NMW) into force:

  • the adult rate will increase to £6.70 per hour
  • the rate for 18 to 20 year olds will £5.30 per hour
  • the rate for 16 to 17 year olds will increase £3.87 per hour
  • the apprentice rate will increase to £3.30 per hour
  • the accommodation offset will increase to £5.35

For more information see our Statutory rates and compensation limits page (Member only).

Employment tribunals’ power to make wider recommendations

The Deregulation Act 2015 amends the Equality Act 2010 to remove employment tribunals’ power to issue wider recommendations in successful discrimination cases. The provisions came into force on 1 October 2015.

For more information see our Tribunal claims, settlement and compromise Q&As (Member only).

29 October 2015

Anti-slavery statements

Under Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, companies with a turnover of £36m or more who carry on business in the UK and supply goods or services will be required to prepare an annual slavery and trafficking statement. Statements will only be required for each financial year on or after 31 March 2016.

For more information see statutory guidance.

2016

11 Jan 2016 - Zero hours contracts: enforcing ban on exclusivity clauses

The Exclusivity Terms in Zero Hours Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015 (SI2015/2021) which came into force on 11 January 2016 give 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.

For more information see our Terms and conditions of employment Q&As (Member only).

1 Apr 2016 - National Living Wage

The National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/68) came into force on 1 April 2016 amending the National Minimum Wage Regulations 2015 to add a National Living Wage (NLW) rate of £7.20 an hour for workers aged 25 years and above. The government has confirmed that the NMW rates, including the NLW, will be uprated in parallel from April 2017.

The Regulations also amend the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 by increasing the financial penalty payable by employers who underpay the national minimum wage from 100% to 200% of the underpayment due to each worker.

For more information on the NLW see the National Living Wage website.

For more information on the financial penalties see the government policy on enforcing the NMW and NLW.

23 Mar 2016 - Scotland Act 2016

The Scotland Act 2016 which received Royal Assent on 23 March 2016 devolves further powers to the Scottish Parliament, including financial powers and elements of the welfare system. Under the Act, the Scottish Parliament has announced its intention to abolish employment tribunal fees in Scotland.

For more information see our Tribunal claims, settlement and compromise Q&As (Member only).

6 April 2016 - Tribunal compensation limits 2016

The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2016 (SI 2016/288) came into force in Great Britain on 6 April 2016. It increased the limit on certain tribunal awards. A week's pay increased to £479 and the cap on the compensatory award increased to £78,962. They apply where the effective date of termination is on or after 6 April 2016.

For more information see our Statutory rates and compensation limits page.

6 Apr 2016 - Penalties for non-payment of employment tribunal awards

Under Section 150 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 employers who fail to pay an employment tribunal award will be issued with a penalty notice. Coming into force on 6 April 2016 the penalty will 50% of the outstanding award, subject to a minimum of £100 and a maximum of £5,000. If the full award and penalty are paid within 14 days, the penalty will be reduced by 50%. The penalty is payable to the Secretary of State not the claimant.

For more information see our Tribunal claims, settlement and compromise Q&As (Member only).

6 Apr 2016 - Employment tribunal postponements

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 contains provisions limiting the number of adjournments in employment tribunal cases. Brought into force on 6 April 2016 by The Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure in the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 (SI 2016/271)

For more information see our Tribunal claims, settlement and compromise Q&As (Member only.

15 April 2016 - Closed recruitment practices call for evidence closes

The government call for evidence on the use of internal-only recruitment practices in the public sector and whether it is ever effectively or inappropriately used closed on 15 April 2016. 

More information is available on the GOV.UK website.

4 May 2016 - Enterprise Act 2016

The Enterprise Act 2016 received Royal Assent on 4 May 2016 and contains provisions to will impose a cap on exit payments made to most public sector workers and introduce a target for the total number of apprentices working in public sector bodies.

4 May 2016 - Trade Union Act 2016

The Trade Union Act 2016 which received Royal Assent on 4 May 2016 make significant changes to strike legislation. Provisions include a requirement that at least 50% of those eligible to vote must cast their ballot on strike action for the result to be considered legitimate with an additional threshold of 40% of support for a proposed strike from all those eligible to vote in important public services (ie at least 40% of those entitled to vote must vote yes). Important public services include health, education of those under 17, fire, transport, decommissioning of nuclear installations and management of radioactive waste and spent fuel and border security.

For more information see our Trade union recognition and industrial action Q&As (Member only).

12 May 2016 - Immigration Act 2016

The Immigration Act 2016 received Royal Assent on 12 May 2016 and contains 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. Some of the provisions came into force on 12 July 2016 (see below).

23 Jun 2016 - EU Referendum held

The EU Referendum held on 23 June 2016 to decide whether the UK should remain in or leave the EU, was won by the Leave campaign.

For more information view our hub on Brexit.

12 Jul 2016 - Immigration Act 2016: Illegal working

Various provisions under the Immigration Act 2016 came into force on 12 July 2016. Illegal working will be a criminal offence in its own right, with a maximum custodial sentence of six months and/or a fine of the statutory maximum (unlimited in England and Wales). It is an offence for an employer to employ someone whom they ‘know or have reasonable cause to believe’ is an illegal worker. Conviction on indictment for this offence will be increased from two years to five years. To deal with employers who employ illegal workers and evade sanctions, the Act introduces a power to close premises for up to 48 hours.

The appointment of a new Director of Labour Market Enforcement who will oversee the relevant enforcement agencies.

For more information see our Recruitment and selection Q&As (Member only.

19 July 2016 - Non compete clauses call for evidence closes

The government call for evidence on the use of non-compete clauses in the UK (including Northern Ireland) closed on 19 July 2016. The government is seeking views from both business and workers on whether the clauses hamper innovation and growth.

More information is available on the GOV.UK website.

1 Oct 2016 - National minimum wage rates 2016

The following national minimum wage (NMW) rates came into force on 1 October 2016:

  • The rate for workers aged 21 to 24 years increased to £6.95 per hour.
  • The development rate for 18 to 20 year olds increased to £5.55 per hour.
  • The rate for 16 to 17 year olds increased to £4.00 per hour.
  • The apprentice rate increased to £3.40 per hour.

A new national living wage (NLW) for workers aged 25 years and over came into force on 1 April 2016. This did not change on 1 October 2016. The government has confirmed that the NMW rates, including the NLW, will be uprated in parallel from April 2017.

For more information see our Statutory rates and compensation limits page.

31 Oct 2016 - Health and Work Green Paper published

On 31 October 2016 the government published a Green Paper, Improving lives, which seeks views on proposals to halve the disability employment gap. The proposals include:

  • the possible provision of a ‘one stop’ shop guidance for employers on health and work
  • reforming the statutory pay system in order to encourage more phased returns to work
  • reviewing how fit note currently works and whether it can be signed by other professionals than doctors.

The consultation ends on 17 February 2017.

The consultation paper is available on the GOV.UK website.

24 Nov 2016 - Immigration Rules changes

The government has announced important changes to the Immigration Rules, including changes to Tier 2. The changes will come into force on 24 November 2016 and include:

  • increasing the Tier 2 (General) salary threshold for experienced workers to £25,000, with some exemptions (the threshold will be further increased to £30,000 in April 2017)
  • increasing the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) salary threshold for short term staff to £30,000
  • reducing the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) graduate trainee salary threshold to £23,000 and increasing the number of places to 20 per company per year
  • closing the Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) skills transfer sub-category.

The first phase of the Tier 2 changes follow a review by the Migration Advisory Committee.

More information is available on the GOV.UK website.

Public sector exit payments: repayment and cap (To be confirmed)

Public sector exit payments: repayment

Under the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 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 - was expected in April, but implementation still to be confirmed.

Public sector exit payments: cap

The government has published the draft Public Sector Exit Payment Regulations 2016 which will impose a cap of £95,000 on the total aggregate value of exit payments made to most public sector workers. The Regulations will be made under a new section in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 to be inserted by the Enterprise Bill (now the Enterprise Act 2016).

Immigration Act 2016: immigration skills charge and English language requirement (To be confirmed)

A new ‘immigration skills charge’ will be placed on certain employers who sponsor skilled workers from outside the EEA. Public authorities will have a duty to ensure that each person who works for a public authority in a customer-facing role, speaks fluent English (and/or Welsh where appropriate). In July 2016 a draft statutory code of practice was published to help authorities comply with this duty. The code will be laid before Parliament and issued in October 2016, but its early publication is intended to help organisations be ready to comply with it once it comes into force.

The above provisions are yet to be implemented.

For more information on the draft code see government guidance.

Whistleblowing (To be confirmed)

Section 148 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 will give the Secretary of State the power to make regulations requiring prescribed persons (for example, regulators) to report annually on the disclosures they receive and whether they have been investigated. The government has consulted on how it will implement this reporting requirement and published its response to the consultation which set out what should be included in annual reports and provided draft Regulations.

For more information on the consultation and the government response go to the GOV.UK website.

2017

6 Apr 2017 - Apprenticeship levy

The government is aiming to introduce an apprenticeship levy on larger public and private employers in the UK to fund 3 million new apprenticeships during the current Parliament. The proposals include setting a rate at 0.5% of an employer’s pay bill across all sectors and that employers will receive an allowance of £15,000. The effect of this allowance is that the levy will only be payable on pay bill in excess of £3 million – employers with a pay bill less than £3 million will not pay anything.

For more information see government guidance

Apr 2017 - Gender pay gap reporting: collecting data

All private and voluntary sector employers in England, Wales and Scotland with at least 250 employees will be required to publish information about the differences in pay between men and women on a mandatory basis. The information will be based on a snapshot of each relevant employee’s pay taken in April 2017 and every subsequent April.

For more information see our Equal pay Q&As (Member only)

Apr 2017 - National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

From April 2017 it is expected that changes to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and National Living Wage (NLW) will take place each April.

2018

Apr 2018 - Gender pay gap reporting introduced

All private and voluntary sector employers in England, Wales and Scotland with at least 250 employees will be required to publish information about the differences in pay between men and women on a mandatory basis. The information will then need to be published by April 2018.

For more information see our Equal pay FAQs (Member only)

Apr 2018 - Termination payments: taxation

The government has announced that from April 2018 that it will make changes to the taxation of termination payments. The changes include:

  • removing the distinction between contractual and non-contractual PILONs so that all PILONs are taxable and subject to Class 1 NICs
  • ensuring that the first £30,000 of a termination payment remains exempt from income tax and that any payment paid to any employee that relates solely to the termination of the employment continues to have an unlimited employee NICs exemption
  • aligning the rules for income tax and employer NICs so that employer NICs will be payable on payments above £30,000 (which are currently only subject to income tax)

A further consultation ended in October 2016.

For more information on the consultation see the GOV.UK website.

Apr 2018 - Restricting employment allowance for illegal workers

On 8 November 2016 the HMRC launched a consultation on draft regulations to exclude certain employers from claiming the Employment Allowance for one year if:

  • the employer has employed individuals subject to immigration control (illegal workers), and 
  • the employer has been penalised by the Home Office, and
  • all appeal rights against that penalty have been exhausted.

The consultation closes on 31 January 2017 and the legislation will come into force in April 2018.

25 May 2018 - General Data Protection Regulation

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will enable people to better control their personal data while at the same time, modernised and unified rules will allow businesses to make the most of the opportunities of the Digital Single Market by cutting red tape and benefiting from reinforced consumer trust.

It will apply in all member states from 25 May 2018.

The new rules affecting individuals include:

  • easier access to their own data
  • a right to data portability
  • a ‘right to be forgotten’
  • a right to know when their data has been hacked.

The new rules affecting business include:

  • a single set of data protection rules which will be valid across the EU
  • the rules will establish a 'one-stop shop' so that companies will only have to deal with one single supervisory authority, not 28
  • notifications to supervisory bodies will be scrapped
  • organisations can be fined up to 4% of global turnover for breaching the new rules
  • organisations will have to appoint a data protection officer in certain circumstances 
  • SMEs will be able to charge a fee for providing access to data where requests are manifestly unfounded or excessive
  • SMEs are exempt from the obligation to appoint a data protection officer insofar as data processing is not their core business activity.

In October 2016, following Brexit, the government confirmed that the UK would still be implementing the GDPR. See blog on the Information Commissioner's (ICO) website.

The ICO also provides a range of information and resources on the GDPR in its data protection reform website which includes an overview, 12-step guide and details of the areas of guidance it will be prioritising over the next six months.

More information is available in our Data protection, surveillance and privacy at work Q&As (Member only).

Grandparental leave (To be confirmed)

In the March 2016 Budget the government announced that it would be launching a on extending shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents. The consultation will also cover options for streamlining the shared parental leave and pay system, including simplifying the eligibility and notification requirements.

The government is proposing to bring legislation into force by 2018.

You may also be interested in ...

CIPD graphic background image 36

Statutory rates and compensation limits

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

Read more
CIPD background image 19

Employment law

A collection of topic pages with resources to help you address employment law issues at work, from recruitment and terms and conditions through to Tupe and redundancy, as well as information on new and amended statutes and statutory rates

Read more
Top