Employment legislation changes sees businesses urged to review practices

Businesses across Coventry and Warwickshire are being urged to review their employment practices in light of recent and impending legislative changes.

Mark Ridley, employment solicitor at Coventry city centre-based solicitors Band Hatton Button, is advising firms to sharpen their focus across key areas such as gender pay gap reporting and GDPR which have already come into effect, while also monitoring proposals relating to the rights of GIG economy workers.

Here is some further guidance from Mark to bring businesses up to speed on key employment issues:

 

The GIG Economy

The Taylor Review was set up in November 2016 by BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy). This was to be an independent review of employment practices in the modern economy. The purpose of the review was to consider what might be the implications of what had become new ways of working, including a review of workers’ rights. On July 11, 2017 the Taylor Report was published. It contained various recommendations, which required further consultation.

The government published a response to the Taylor Report in February 2018. Their response contained various proposals, some of which increased workers’ rights. It also contained proposals as to how workers’ awareness of their rights might be increased.

Various consultations followed, which have now been concluded. The report also led to two Commons Select Committees undertaking further enquiries. This resulted in a further report in November 2017.

This all culminated in a draft Bill. However, further consultation is now being undertaken in relation to that draft bill.

The proposals include:

  • The right to a written statement of terms for all workers, including those on zero hours contracts and agency workers
  • The right to itemised pay slips for all workers
  • The low pay commission to consider the impact of introducing a higher national minimum wage for hours not guaranteed by contract
  • The increase in the one week gap between assignments breaking continuity of employment
  • Simplification of working out pay for the purposes of holiday pay under the Working Time Regulations
  • Increased pay transparency for agency workers

In the meantime, tribunals take the lead in establishing employment status. Increasingly they are being asked to find that somebody engaged on a self-employed basis was in fact a worker or an employee. The recent trend of the high-profile cases has been, for the most part, but not exclusively, to establish that such individuals are in fact workers.

In this ever-changing work environment, employment status and the GIG economy will remain a hot topic in employment law.

 

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

The Gender Pay Gap Regulations came in to force on April 6, 2017. The effect of the regulations is to impose upon employers an obligation to publish information annually, including their gender pay gap. The gender pay gap is the difference between male and female average hourly pay. The regulations require that this information is placed on the employer’s website and on a government website.

Separate requirements were introduced for public sector employers.

The first reports, for large private employers had to be published on or before April 4, 2018.

There are various rules for determining which employees the regulations apply to. In essence, a “relevant employer” for the purposes of the regulations is a private or voluntary sector employer with 250 or more employees on a particular date (April 5). For many employers it will be obvious whether or not they are subject to the regulations. However, some employers will be close to the threshold, in which case very careful consideration will have to be given, including dealing with issues such as casual workers. It may be necessary for some employers to make an assessment as at each April 5, to determine whether they have fallen within the scope of the regulations.

The first gender pay gap reports of large public-sector employers showed that men were paid more than women in 90% of cases. Women in the public sector earned on average 14% less than their male colleagues. Significant pay gaps were reported in the NHS, universities, and local and central government departments.

ACAS and the Government Equalities Office have jointly published guidance on gender pay reporting covering both public and private sector employers.

 

GDPR

No one could not have noticed that GDPR was introduced on May 25, 2018.

The regulations continue to cause uncertainty for employers.

The regulations require employers to notify data subjects about how their personal data will be handled through a privacy notice. This is an ongoing obligation, not one simply to be complied with as at May 25, 2018.

The privacy notice should inform employees about how the employer will collect, use, store, transfer and secure personal data. It applies to not just to employees, but also to workers and contractors. It also applies to applicants and new recruits.

 

For any employment law queries email Mark Ridley: MER@bandhattonbutton.com