Guest writer: Atim Arden, HR Solutions and IAM Partner
Everyone with an interest in employment law will need to have the following topics on their radar as we move forwards in 2018.
1. National Minimum Wage
The highest band is creeping ever closer to a minimum hourly rate of £8 per hour, as the top band 25 year olds’ and above hits £7.83 on the 1st April. Although this band is referred to as the ‘National Living Wage’, employers must remember that this is a legal minimum wage requirement and is distinct from the ‘Living Wage’ which is a recommended wage e.g. for people living and working in London.
2. Gender Pay Reporting
These reports are required from any business that has 250 members of staff or more and are generated by making six statutory calculations. Employers including the BBC, Asda, Sainsburys and Tesco have already made news headlines over the gaps they have reported. This comes at an interesting time as 2018 marks the 100-year anniversary of women first being able to vote!
Compliance is the hot topic of conversation at the moment as employers sneak out and speak to each other, trying to find out what everyone is doing to bring their organisation into line. HR Solutions are running a series of grounded and practical webinars and seminars to bring clarity to this difficult topic, which have so far been a great success.
4. Tribunals Fees And Caseload Increases
The Summer of 2017 saw tribunal fees abolished as they were deemed to be unlawful by the Supreme Court. It is widely anticipated that the scrapping of fees will directly create an increase in claims. Where the improved access to justice is commendable, it could mean that employers find themselves battling with disingenuous grievances in the hot pursuit of a pay-out. Employers may need to be savvy in recognising a legitimate risk from a phony one!
Care providers in particular are still left wondering whether a flat rate for a sleep-in shift is unlawful in civil law. Two recent cases have again pointed to the need to be paying an hourly rate. One of these cases concerned the fact that the contract of employment had stated an hourly rate would be paid, and there was no mention of a flat rate payment for a sleep-in shift. It was ruled that the claimant had not been paid in accordance with his contract and it was ordered he be paid up at the contractual hourly rate. In another, the learning from the case pointed out (and reiterated) factors that should be considered when determining whether the shift was in fact ‘working time’ and therefore subject to the National Minimum Wage. It did not specifically address whether a flat rate in itself was unlawful.
In April, the minimum contribution to be made by employers into an automatic enrolment pension scheme will be increasing, and it will increase again in April 2019. This round of increases sees the total minimum contribution rise to 5% (2% contribution from the employer and 3% from the member of staff).
7. The Gig Economy:
The government have announced plans to support workers in the gig economy with their rights. Primarily they will look to try and increase awareness of existing rights so that employers may better understand their obligations and prospective candidates and workers know what their expectations of their employer should be. We may even see some enhanced rights, e.g. affording an increased minimum wage in respect of a zero-hour contract and affording workers the right to payslips – as currently only employees have this right!