With New Year’s resolutions made, and 2017 underway we highlight below some employment changes over the coming months with some fixed dates for the diary and others rather more speculative:

March 2017

  • Tribunal fees: The challenge against the introduction of tribunal fees is due to be heard in the Supreme Court in March 2017 (R(Unison) v Lord Chancellor). If successful, the government will, at the very least, have to revisit the level of fees currently levied.
  • Financial Services: Regulated banks and insurers will have to comply with new rules on references for candidates being recruited into certain positions from March 2017.

April 2017

  • Apprenticeship levy: This is scheduled to take effect in April 2017. All UK employers with an annual wage bill of more than £3 million will have to pay 0.5% of their payroll towards the cost of apprenticeship training.
  • Gender pay reporting: Businesses with 250 or more employees will be required to publish information on gender pay. It is anticipated that the provisions will take effect on 6 April 2017. Click here for further details.

During 2017

  • Trade Union Act: This was passed in May 2016, but further legislation is needed to flesh out some of the changes and bring them into force. It is anticipated that aspects of the Act will be brought into effect in 2017. The Act introduces new thresholds for industrial action ballots, new information and timing requirements in relation to industrial action and imposes legal requirements on unions for the supervision of picketing.
  • Grandparent Leave: It is anticipated that the planned extension of shared parental leave to working grandparents will be implemented in 2018.
  • Taxation of termination payments: From April 2018 termination payments that are subject to income tax on amounts in excess of £30,000 will also be subject to employer NICs. The whole termination payment will remain outside the scope of employee NICs.

No fixed date

  • Ban on corporate directors: This was originally anticipated in October 2016, but its implementation date is not yet finalised.

To be decided…

  • Brexit: The Supreme Court’s decision following the challenge by Gina Miller and others on whether the government has the power to trigger Article 50 without an Act of Parliament is due early this year. However Brexit happens, from an employment perspective, it appears the government is not intending to amend legislation which derives from EU legislation in the short-term. However, still possibly in the firing line are the agency workers regulations, TUPE and the working time regulations. We are short on information and only time will tell…
  • Holiday pay: The long-running case of Lock v British Gas, on commission and holiday pay is being appealed to the Supreme Court and should be heard this year although no date has been fixed. We are also still waiting for the EAT’s decision in another significant case, Fulton v Bear Scotland concerning holiday pay and overtime which was heard last April. The saga continues and perhaps Brexit will be triggered first!
  • Employment status and the gig economy: It is also understood that Uber are appealing the tribunal decision that the drivers are workers rather than self-employed. In addition, the six month Taylor review of modern employment practices is taking place focusing on those working in the gig economy and in particular whether current definitions of employment status need to be updated. With the even more recent decision in the City Sprint case, it seems that the need for a fundamental review of these practices is required.
  • Equal pay in the private sector: The tribunal’s decision in Brierley v Asda is also expected to be appealed to the EAT. This looked at whether a group of female retail store employees could compare themselves to a group of male distribution depot employees for equal pay purposes with reports that the sums involved exceed £100m. There are similar claims in the pipeline against other supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s.
  • Headscarves and religious discrimination: We are waiting for the ECJ’s decision in two cases which considered whether dismissal for wearing an Islamic headscarf was discriminatory. The Advocate General’s opinion in each case has come to the opposite conclusion so the ECJ’s decision is hard to predict!

Whatever happens in the coming months and years, particularly in the light of Brexit, it will certainly be an interesting time for employers and we look forward to advising and keeping you abreast of these developments as they arise.