As the calendar year draws to a close, it is time to cast a quick glance into what might be in store in 2010 for employment law. The eagerly awaited Equality Act should be in force around October and it is expected to strengthen and harmonise discrimination law. People who want to work with children or vulnerable adults in regulated activities must inform the Independent Safeguarding Authority by November 2010.

In sickness and now in health seems to be the message falling out from The Social Security (Medical Evidence) and Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Amendment Regulations 2010. You need to be fit to recite that title and “fit notes” are the new sick notes. What next for duvet days…Tracksuit Tuesdays? Talking of training, a new “right to request” unpaid training or study comes into force in April. So it’s “on your marks” for those employers with more than 250 employees.

Forget the starting gun, just blow the whistle…yes it looks likely from early April that whistleblowing stories from Employment Tribunals will be passed onto industry regulators. Just remember to tick the box on the ET1 form!

It looks like more than just box ticking for earning bonuses from next year for those involved in the financial services sector. The Government has indicated it intends to get tough with measures such as prohibition on certain types of remuneration and claw-back of payments made under void terms. But with an election approaching, it remains to be seen what new laws will be passed.

Never mind, the numbers boys can soon add to their quota of holidays if they become new dads by requesting unpaid paternity leave of up to 6 months from April 2011. Some time for a bit of planning for a family rather than “family planning”!

For those planning for a very different event…retirement…65 seems to be the requisite number. That is until the Government extends that to 67 or even higher?

The effect of the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of Religion and Belief, where there have been several landmark cases in 2009, will continue to be seen. The Court of Appeal will be hearing Eweida v British Airways Plc which involves whether it was permissible for BA to insist that an employee hides her crucifix necklace beneath her uniform. With Liberty supporting Ms Eweida this will be a high profile and important case.

Now on to that “old” chestnut of Age Discrimination. Two cases have recently examined whether financial cost alone can be justified in dismissing employees to avoid paying enhanced pensions. Both are at odds with each other so the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of London Borough of Tower Hamlets v Wooster (May 2010) will be crucial.

Bank bonus cases are likely to feature prominently and it will be interesting to see whether new principles develop in light of the much publicised “bonus culture” of the city fat cats.

In keeping with this vein of excess a Compromise Agreement that was considered “irrationally generous” will be the subject of an appeal in Gibb v Maidestone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.

The right to be legally represented at disciplinary hearings will be clarified in the Appeal Court case R v The Governors of X School. The effect on procedures involving public sector employees / quasi public sector roles could be significant.

The case of Olds v Late Editions Ltd will hopefully address a potential loophole in the protection which TUPE provides for existing employees of a failing / failed business being bought by new (or not so new) purchasers.

Furthermore the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary & Grievance Procedure will surely provide fertile ground for employment tribunal cases.