Some key things to watch out for in 2017...

Early 2017

Tax free child care scheme to be introduced.  The Government plans to remove the current system of childcare vouchers and introduce a new tax free childcare system under which working families will be able to claim 20% off qualifying childcare costs for children under 5 (and children with disabilities under 17) up to a cap of £2,000 per child per year.  The scheme will be available for families in which all parents in the household are earning £50 per week although there are exceptions.  If one family member is an additional rate tax payer, the family will not be eligible. 

Early 2017  

On-line decision database.  On 22 June 2016, HMCTS announced plans that introduced a new on-line database of Employment Tribunal decisions.  On 17 November 2016, HMCTS confirmed that decisions would be available on-line at the end of 2016 or the start of 2017.  As they were not available at the end of 2016, we are expecting them shortly.

Consultation closes on 20 January 2017

Civil Court Structure review and Employment Tribunal reform.  On 5 December 2016, BEIS and MOJ launched a joint consultation setting out proposals for reform of Employment Tribunals and the EAT.  Proposals include: Digitising the claim process, delegating tracks from Judges to case workers and tailoring composition of Tribunal panels.  The consultation closes on 20 January 2017.

27 & 28 March 2017

Employment Tribunal fees challenge - R (Unison) v Lord Chancellor.  Following the introduction of fees in July 2013, Unison issued two judicial review challenges on the grounds that their introduction breached EU principles and amounted to indirect discrimination.  Both applications were dismissed by the High Court.  In August 2015, the Court of Appeal dismissed Unison’s appeal due to lack of “evidence on the actual affordability of the fees in the financial circumstances of (typical) individuals”.  Union appealed to the Supreme Court which is due to be heard on 27 and 28 March 2017.

End of March 2017

Brexit - The Government has stated that Article 50 of the treaty on the European Union will be triggered and this will commence the formal process for leaving the EU.  The Government’s appeal against the High Court’s decision in R v The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on whether Article 50 can be triggered without an Act of Parliament was heard by the Supreme Court between 5 and 8 December 2016.  The Judgment is expected in early 2017.  It is not yet known when writing this update what the implications of Brexit will be on UK employment law.

For financial years ending on or after 31 March 2016

Modern Slavery – Commercial Organisations with a turnover at £36 million (which will include the global turnover of the organisation and its subsidiary undertaking) must prepare an annual slavery and human trafficking statement.  Click here to read guidance produced by The Home Office.  Also see a previous article written by Spratt Edicott here for further information.

April 2017

The apprenticeship levy is scheduled to come into effect.  The apprenticeship levy will require all UK employers in both the private and public sectors which have annual wage bills of more than £3 million to pay 0.5% of their annual wage bill towards the cost of apprenticeship training.  This replaces the current system, enabling employers to choose and pay for the apprenticeship training they want.

6 April 2017

Gender Pay Gap Reporting Regulations.  The final draft of the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 was published later than expected in December 2016.  The Regulations are expected to come into force on 6 April 2017, subject to Parliamentary approval.  The first gender pay gap reports for large private and voluntary sector employers will be due by 4 April 2018.  Separate requirements will be introduced for public sector employers. 

Expected, but no date given

Consultation on grandparent leave.  The Government plans to extend shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents by 2018.  The Government intends to bring legislation into force by 2018.  Ban on corporate directors.  The natural person’s requirement in section 87 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 inserts a new section 156A in the Companies Act 2006 banning corporate directors.  This was expected to have been brought into force in October 2016.  There will be a grace period of 12 months from the date Section 156A comes into force, after which any corporate directors will cease to be directors by operation of law.  No further information has been published to date.

25 May 2018

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  The GDPR came into force on 24 May 2016 and will apply in all member states from 25 May 2018.  The Information Commissioner’s office (ICO) has published a statement confirming that following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, the General Data Protection Regulation, (GDPR) will not directly apply to the UK but if the UK wants to trade with the Single Market on equal terms, it would have to prove “adequacy” by May 2018.  On 24 October 2016, the Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, MP, confirmed to the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee that the UK would be implementing the GDPR in May 2018.   See previous article here for more information.