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2019: what’s on the horizon?

MH
BY Miranda Hughes
Employment law

As 2018 draws to a close, we thought we would take the opportunity to look to the year ahead and the changes we expect to see in Employment Law.

Brexit

Sorry to start off with what is fast becoming the most dreaded word in the English language but it’s hard to get away from, especially when it comes to Employment Law. At the moment, it remains unclear whether the UK government will manage to get the proposed deal through Parliament. Although we are unlikely to see any major changes to employment legislation, at least in the short term, the rules around employment of EU nationals will have to change out of necessity.

After the UK leaves the EU, free movement will end. However, European workers living in the UK will be able to apply for settled status from 2019 which will allow them to remain indefinitely after the Brexit transition period finishes in 2021. To be successful in their application, the worker will have had to resided in the UK for five years by the date of their application. Those who don’t qualify will be able to apply for temporary status which will allow them to remain until they have achieved the qualifying residency period and can apply for settled status.

Annual Change to NMW

As is the case every year, the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates will increase on 1st April 2019. The NLW rate for workers aged 25 and over will increase from £7.83 per hour to £8.21 per hour.

For those under 18 the rate will increase from £4.20 to £4.35. The rate for 18-20 year olds will rise from £5.90 to £6.15 and the new NMW rate for people aged 21-24 will go up from £7.38 to £7.70.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

After the first gender pay gap deadline had passed, the BBC reported that half of firms reported in the week leading up to the deadline. Indeed, 1500 reported their pay gap figures on the last day.

This year, employers with 250 or employees will have to publish their gender pay gap figures again. The snapshot date for the public sector will be the 31st March 2018 and they will have to publish 30th March 2019. For private organisations and those in the voluntary sector, the snapshot date will be 5th April 2018 and the publishing date will be 4th April 2019.

Additionally, new legislation will come into force that requires those companies to publish their executive pay gap.

Bereavement Leave and Pay

The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018 bill received Royal Assent on 13 September 2018, becoming an Act of Parliament. The Act is not expected to come into force until 2020 and the associated Regulations have not yet been published yet.

However, under the current proposals, bereaved parents will have 56 weeks from their child’s death to take bereavement leave. It is proposed that this will have to be taken as single two-week period, as two separate periods of one week each, or as a single week. Law At Work will keep you updated as and when the regulations are published so that employers can start preparing accordingly.

Payslips

Following the Taylor Review in July 2017, an amendment has been made to the Employment Rights Act 1996. This amendment means that from 6th April 2019 all workers, including casual workers and those on zero hours contracts, will be entitled to receive an itemised payslip.

Where a worker’s pay varies according to time worked, the employer will have to include the total number of hours worked for which variable pay is received. This can be done as an aggregate figure or as separate figures for the different types of work for or rates of pay.

Case Updates

In March of this year, we reported that Tesco was facing its largest equal pay claim on record from female staff claiming that their lower paid work is of equal value to the work done higher paid male colleagues. Similar claims were also brought against ASDA and Sainsbury’s and were heard in the Court of Appeal this year. Decisions in these cases are expected next year and could have a huge impact on these retail giants.

In another landmark reported on this year the Court of Appeal heard an appeal from Mencap and came to the decision that care workers on sleepover shifts were actually not entitled to National Minimum Wage whether they were awake or not. Unison made a request to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court and a decision on whether they will be able to do so is expected in 2019.

We hope you have enjoyed our LAWMails this year and we look forward to another year of keeping you updated on the weird and wonderful world of Employment Law. Until then we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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