New consultation: employment law hearing structures, national minimum wage: compliance and enforcement, EHRC survey: gender pay, and new consultation: ethnicity pay reporting are all covered in this month's Quick fire.

New consultation: employment law hearing structures

The Law Commission has published a new consultation on the jurisdictions of the employment tribunal, employment appeal tribunal and the civil courts in employment and discrimination matters.

The consultation seeks to establish how the current system could be improved, and make recommendations for reform, without proposing any major restructuring of the employment tribunal system.

In particular the consultation looks at:

  • the current shared jurisdiction between civil courts and tribunals in relation to certain employment and discrimination matters, including equal pay
  • the restrictions on the employment tribunal’s existing jurisdiction
  • the exclusive jurisdiction of the county court in certain types of discrimination claim (such as discrimination in the provision of services and the management of premises)
  • the handling of employment disputes in the civil courts.

The consultation seeks views on whether breach of contract claims could be pursued against an employer in the employment tribunal while the employment relationship is ongoing (rather than only on termination, as at present). A provisional recommendation is for an increase in the current maximum of £25,000 for breach of contract claims brought in the employment tribunal. The consultation also seeks views on whether the existing time limit for the majority of employment claims should be increased from three to six months.

The consultation closes on 11 January 2019, with the final report on proposed reforms expected later in 2019.

National minimum wage: compliance and enforcement

A new government report has detailed evidence on compliance and enforcement of the national minimum wage (NMW) in 2017/18.

The report highlights various measures adopted to increase rates of compliance, and includes the following.

  • A record £15.6m of underpayments identified, benefitting over 200,000 workers. Principal targets for enforcement action were social care, retail, commercial warehousing and gig economy sectors.
  • 678 employers were ‘named and shamed’ for NMW underpayment, with a record £14m in fines issued.
  • A pilot Assisted Self Correction scheme, for employers to volunteer for self-review, resulted in £246,000 arears being identified in respect of 689 employees. HMRC is now reviewing the outcome of the pilot scheme.

The report provides evidence to the Low Pay Commission to help monitor, evaluate and review minimum wage compliance and enforcement.

EHRC survey: gender pay

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published the results of a recent survey of 2,515 employees, which was commissioned to understand the impact of the gender pay gap on staff motivation and behaviour.

The survey shows that nearly two thirds (61%) of women would take an organisation’s gender pay gap into consideration when applying for jobs. It also shows that 58% of women would be less likely to recommend their present employer as a place to work if they had a gender pay gap.

The results of the survey suggest that those employers with large pay gaps risk losing out on securing and retaining the best talent, if they do not take positive steps to reduce the pay gap. However, it appears that very few employers are currently taking substantive action to close the gap, with around half of respondents to the survey having not read or heard any information about their organisation’s pay gap or what was being done to reduce it.

The EHRC provides advice and guidance for employers on how to reduce their gender pay gap.