This timetable outlines the major changes to employment legislation 2015-2018, and what's expected in 2018 and 2019. For information on employment law in Northern Ireland see our factsheet.

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.

11 January 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).

23 March 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).

1 April 2016

National Living Wage

From 1 April 2016 there will be a new rate of £7.20 for workers aged 25 and over, known as the National Living Wage (NLW). For more information see our Legal timetables.

From 1 October 2016

  • Workers aged 21 and over: £6.95 an hour
  • Development rate for workers aged 18-20: £5.55 an hour
  • Young workers rate for workers aged 16-17: £4.00 an hour
  • Apprentice rate: £3.40 an hour

More information on the NMW and its calculation is available on the GOV.UK website.

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.

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).

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. It contains provisions to impose a cap on exit payments for most public sector workers and introduces a target for the total number of apprentices working in public sector bodies.

Trade Union Act 2016

The Trade Union Act 2016, which received Royal Assent on 4 May 2016, makes a number of changes to strike legislation. Provisions include a requirement that at least 50% of those eligible to vote on strike action must participate in the ballot and, in addition, that 40% of workers in ballots involving ‘important public services’ must support the strike for the industrial action proposed to be lawful.

The government has now defined what is included in ‘important public services’ in a set of draft regulations published on 6 December 2016 (for further details, see 1 March 2017 - Trade Union Act: important public services).

There's more information in 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 June 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 July 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.

26 September 2016

Public sector exit payments: cap and repayment

Public sector exit payments: cap
The government intends to introduce a £95,000 cap on all public sector exit payments, but plans to accomplish this by regulations have currently been replaced by a negotiated approach to bringing about reform at workforce level. In a response to its consultation conducted last year (which contained draft regulations under the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2016) the government said it will introduce an ‘overarching framework’ for workforce agreements in order to “cut the cost of redundancies, and to ensure greater consistency between schemes”.

Public sector exit payments: repayment
Details on how the government intends to ‘clawback’ redundancy payments, sometimes made to highly-paid employees returning to the public sector shortly after receiving a termination package, are not in the consultation response.

1 October 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 October 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.

21 November 2016

English language fluency

The government has issued guidance on the code of practice that came into force on 21 November on the new requirement in the Immigration Act 2016 for all public sector staff in public-facing roles to speak English (or Welsh) fluently enough for “the effective performance of their role” (language requirements already exist for doctors and teachers).

24 November 2016

Immigration Rules changes (Tier 2)

Changes to Tier 2 of the immigration system came into force on 24 November 2016, including:

  • an increase in 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)
  • an increase in the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) salary threshold for short term staff to £30,000
  • a reduction in the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) graduate trainee salary threshold to £23,000 and an increase in the number of places to 20 per company per year
  • the closure of the Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) skills transfer sub-category.

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

More information is available on the GOV.UK website.

1 March 2017

Trade Union Act: important public services

The Trade Union Act 2016, in force from 1 March, sets additional strike balloting requirements for those working in ‘important public services’. For strikes in those services to be lawful, not only must 50% of those eligible to vote participate in the ballot, but 40% must support the action proposed (as opposed to a simple majority of those voting, as required in strike ballots elsewhere).

Five sets of regulations specify the categories of public service workers covered by the additional 40% threshold. They are:

  • Hospital services such as A&E, intensive care, psychiatric and emergency midwifery services
  • Teachers of compulsory school age children, and those working in further education
  • Fire-fighters, and fire and rescue service personnel organising emergency responses
  • London bus, national rail, and tramway personnel, including maintenance workers, and air traffic control, airport and port security services
  • Border control, sea patrol and border intelligence personnel.

Regulations on nuclear decommissioning services are to be produced at a later date.

31 March 2017

Gender pay gap reporting (public sector)

‘Specified public authorities’ – including government departments, the armed forces, local authorities, the NHS and state schools – that have 250 or more employees will have to report on their gender pay gap within one year of a ‘data snapshot’ date of 31 March each year. This means their first reports must be published by 30 March 2018.

The new rules, which largely mirror those for private and voluntary sector organisations (see below), are contained in the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017.

1 April 2017

National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

The following NLW and NMW hourly rates apply from 1 April 2017:

  • Workers aged over 25 years (NLW): £7.50.
  • Workers aged 21 to 24 years: £7.05.
  • Workers aged 18 to 20 years: £5.60.
  • Workers aged 16 to 17 years: £4.05.
  • Apprentices (under 19 years, or in the first year): £3.50.

From 2017, changes to both the NLW and NMW rates will take place in April.

Whistleblowing

Prescribed persons’, the official organisations to whom whistleblowers can disclose wrong-doing under the whistleblowing protection legislation, will be required from this date to make annual reports of those disclosures. The first reports are due on 1 October 2018.

For more on this subject, see the Whistleblowing factsheet.

2 April 2017

Family friendly payments

Statutory maternity (SMP), paternity (SPP), adoption (SAP) and shared parental pay (ShPP) rises to £140.98 a week from 2 April 2017.

For more information, see Statutory rates and compensation limits.

6 April 2017

Gender pay gap reporting (private and voluntary sector)

All private and voluntary sector employers in England, Wales and Scotland with at least 250 employees are required to publish information annually about the differences in pay between men and women in their workforces under the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017, in force from 6 April 2017. The information must be based on a ‘snapshot’ of their pay bill on 5 April 2017, and annually thereafter, and the first reports must be published by 4 April 2018.

Similar reporting requirements apply to larger public sector employers (see above).

Regulations under the Northern Irish Employment Act 2016 are due by the end of June 2017, but there is no date yet for enforcement. Unlike the rules for England, this statute provides for fines of up to £5,000 for non-compliance, and includes a requirement for the pay band statistics to cover ethnicity and disability as well as gender.

See our Guide to gender pay gap reporting for more information.

Apprenticeship levy

An apprenticeship levy applies from 6 April to any public and private employers with an annual pay bill for the previous tax year in excess of £3 million. All employers in this category, whether or not they actually use apprentices, will have to contribute 0.5% if their annual pay bill, calculated on the basis of all payments to employees (including wages, bonuses and commission) that are subject to employer class 1 NICs. Levied employers with apprenticeships will receive an annual allowance of £15,000 to offset against their apprentice costs.

For more information see our factsheet.

Compensation limits

Tribunal compensation limits increase from 6 April 2017. The new rates are:

  • Limit on guaranteed payments – £27
  • Limit on a week’s pay – £489
  • Maximum basic award for unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy payment – £14,670
  • Minimum basic award for unfair dismissal – £5,970
  • Maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal – £80,541
  • Minimum compensation for exclusion/expulsion from a trade union – £9,118

For more information, see Statutory rates and compensation limits.

National Insurance thresholds

The lower earnings limit rises to £113 per week at the beginning of the new tax year, and the Class 1 upper earnings limit rises to £866 per week.

More details are available from GOV.UK

Statutory sick pay

Statutory sick pay (SSP) will increase to £89.35 on 6 April 2017.

For more information, see Statutory rates and compensation limits.

Immigration skills charge (Tier 2)

Organisations sponsoring non-EEA skilled workers under Tier 2 of the points-based system will pay a £1,000 immigration skills charge (£364 for smaller organisations and charities) per sponsored worker from 6 April 2017 (see draft regulations). The charge was recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee and confirmed by the Government in March last year. Workers in PhD-level occupations, those switching from Tier 4 student visas, and graduate trainees on Intra Company Transfer visas are exempt.

Also on this date:

  • the minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 migrants rises from £25,000 to £30,000
  • the immigration health surcharge will apply to Tier 2 Intra Company Transfers
  • Tier 2 (General) workers in the education, health and social care sectors will need to provide a criminal record certificate for themselves and any adult dependants.

For more on immigration issues, see Employing overseas workers in the UK.

IR35 in the public sector

The IR35 tax rules governing off-payroll working in the public sector also change on this date. Responsibility for deciding whether the rules apply shifts from the worker to the public body, which will also be responsible for deducting relevant tax and NICs from the fee it pays to the intermediary organisation where appropriate.

For more information on IR35 changes in the public sector, see GOV.UK guidance.

Salary sacrifice schemes

From 6 April, only employer pension contributions, childcare benefits, cycle to work schemes and ultra-low emission company cars can be provided through salary sacrifice arrangements, although schemes in place prior to this date can continue to benefit from the tax advantages they provide until April 2018. Accommodation, school fees and other company cars may be provided under salary sacrifice arrangements until April 2021.

For more on salary sacrifice schemes, see Employee benefits.

11 July 2017

Taylor report

On this date Good Work: the Taylor review of modern working practices was published by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The report followed more than six months of research into modern working practices carried out by a team led by Matthew Taylor.

The report makes a number of recommendations regarding the status of gig economy workers, including:

  • Changing ‘worker’ status in employment law to ‘dependent contractor’ and making the distinction between such workers and the genuinely self-employed clearer
  • Giving dependent contractors the right to a written statement of terms and conditions from day one (currently this only applies to employees)
  • Making employers responsible for proving an individual is not entitled to employment rights in the event of a tribunal claim, rather than claimants.

The government has yet to respond to the report.

26 July 2017

Tribunal fees abolished

On 26 July 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that the regulations introducing tribunal fees in July 2013 were unlawful. Employment tribunals stopped accepting fees with immediate effect.

The government opened a fees refund scheme on 15 November 2017. Claims for refunds can be submitted by any employee and employer that paid Employment Tribunal or Employment Appeal Tribunal fees between 2013 and 2017.

For more details, CIPD members can see our Tribunal claims, settlement and compromise law Q&As.

15 November 2017

Tribunal fee refund scheme

The government has launched an online system for claimants seeking a refund for tribunal fees paid between 29 July 2013, when fees were introduced, and 26 July 2017, the date on which the regime was ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court. Refunds will include 0.5 per cent interest.

Respondents to a claim (usually employers) can fill in and post, or email, a downloadable refund form if they were ordered to pay the fees of a tribunal claimant during the fees period. More information is available on the GOV.UK website’s tribunals page.

The Ministry of Justice reported in December’s tribunal statistics that employment tribunal claims had risen by 66 per cent between July to October 2017, the first quarter since fees were abolished. Claims rose from 4,241 claims between April and June, to 7,042.

20 November 2017

Committees’ draft bill on worker status

The House of Commons Work and Pensions and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committees published a joint report and draft bill on this date with the intention of closing the “loopholes that allow companies to use bogus ‘self-employment’ status as a route to cheap labour and tax avoidance” and taking forward the “best of the Taylor recommendations”. The report, A framework for modern employment, suggests:

  • ‘worker’ status as the default position for gig economy companies labelling their workforce as ‘self-employed’
  • a wage premium above national minimum wage rates for non-guaranteed hours
  • fines for companies repeatedly losing tribunal claims over the same issues.

19 December 2017

Enforcing gender pay gap reporting

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published a draft policy and consultation on plans to force employers to publish their gender pay gap figures, if the current voluntary approach proves unsuccessful. Unlimited fines and enforcement through the courts are among a range of options being proposed for non-compliant organisations. 

The consultation closes on 2 February 2018.

2018

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.

‘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).

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.

From 1 April 2018:

Workers aged 25 and over: £7.83 an hour (National Living Wage)
Workers aged 21 and over: £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.

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).

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.

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.

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). Subjecting termination payments above the £30,000 to class 1A NICs will be implemented in a National Insurance Contributions Bill to be published in 2018. The change will take effect from 6 April 2019.

  • Permit HM Treasury to vary the £30,000 threshold by regulations.

For more information, see Income tax and NICs: treatment of termination payments on the HMRC website.

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.

The government has delayed its scrapping of the workplace childcare voucher system, due to close on 5 April 2018, by six months, following a vote in Parliament. The abolition is among changes to be 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.

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.

In accordance with the government’s plans to further deter the employment of illegal workers, employers will be unable to claim Employment Allowance for one year if they have:

  • hired an illegal worker
  • been penalised by the Home Office
  • exhausted all appeal rights against that penalty.

The draft legislation containing these measures was scheduled to be in force from April 2018 but appears to have been delayed. The draft legislation is included in the consultation document

In the Autumn Budget 2017, Chancellor Philip Hammond indicated that the government was considering extending the April 2017 changes to the public sector IR35 rules governing the taxation of off-payroll working to the private sector.

The aim is to “ensure individuals who effectively work as employees are taxed as employees even if they choose to structure their work through a company”.

The Chancellor confirmed in the Spring Statement 2018 that the government would consult on any proposed reforms during 2018.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has said that draft legislation requiring all listed companies to reveal the pay ratio between their CEO and an average worker is likely to be published before the 2018 summer recess of Parliament (usually the recess occurs in July).

The government announced a range of corporate governance reforms in August 2017, including:

  • mandatory reporting of pay ratios between chief executives and workers
  • a new public register of listed companies that have faced significant shareholder opposition to executive pay packages
  • new measures on ‘employee voice’ in boardrooms.

The reforms are intended to enhance the “transparency of big business to shareholders, employees and the public” according to Business Secretary Greg Clark.

2019 and beyond

Theresa May triggered the process for leaving the EU under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, by serving notice of the UK’s intention to quit on 29 March 2017. The Treaty sets a two-year timeframe for negotiations between the EU and a member state on the terms of that state’s departure, starting from the Article 50 trigger date, but this period can be extended by agreement.

During December 2017, the prime minister attempted to enshrine 29 March 2019 in law as the date for the UK’s exit from the EU, but this was defeated by a vote in Parliament.

There are talks of a possible transitional period lasting several years following the official Brexit date, during which different arrangements might exist prior to a permanent relationship agreement coming in to force between the EU and the UK.

For more information and resources on Brexit and employment, visit our Brexit hub.

Two important changes 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.

For more information, CIPD members can also see our Terms and conditions of employment law Q&As.

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 'Apr 2018 - Taxation of PILONs and termination payments' above).

In October 2017, the government confirmed its backing for a private members’ bill, the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Bill. The Bill, currently progressing through Parliament, will entitle employees who lose a child under the age of 18 to two weeks’ leave, paid at the statutory rate if they have 26 weeks’ service. The government is aiming for the new law to be in force in 2020.

Currently employed parents only have a day-one right to take a reasonable amount of unpaid time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, including dealing with a dependant’s death.

A landmark proposal by David Cameron’s 2015 government to introduce grandparental leave through an extension to shared parent leave (SPL) has been put on hold. The decision has been made whilst the present government carries out an evaluation of SPL, the findings of which are expected to be published early 2019.

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