In 2018 we saw a number of important employment law developments challenge the way that companies operate, and encourage employers to be more transparent, accountable and meet new expectations.
We have summarised the top five developments of last year below.
1. Gender Pay Gap Reporting
The gender pay gap is the difference in earnings between men and women on an hourly basis. In 2017 the Government passed a bill that required all employers with 250 staff or more to publish their pay gap figures:
- in a written statement on their company website, complete with all data; and
- by logging the data with the government online.
This must be completed annually, by 30 March for public sector organisations, and by 4 April for businesses and charities.
In 2018 we really began to see how the gender pay gap reporting will play out and encouragingly, 100% of required employers reported their figures.
In August last year, the Government published guidance for employers to help close the pay gap and went on to allocate £500,000 to five organisations who are helping to tackle closing the gender pay gap. Further demonstrating its commitment to tackling the gender pay gap, the Government also published the findings of a survey conducted to gauge employers’ understanding of the new regulations.
2. The Good Work Plan
The Government’s Good Work Plan was launched as an antidote to the widely criticised Taylor Report, which was deemed a “missed opportunity” to evaluate the current state of the UK labour market.
The Good Work Plan sets out the Government’s vision for the future of the UK labour market. It also responds pragmatically to the 53 recommendations posed to Government by the Taylor Report, focusing on protecting agency and zero-hours contract workers.
The plan increases the penalty for aggravating conduct by an employer from £5,000 to “at least” £20,000. In a similar vein, there are calls to name and shame employers who fail to pay tribunal awards.
Vulnerable workers are also to be protected by a dedicated body and by the introduction of new penalties for employers who fail to protect vulnerable employees. No dates have yet been fixed.
It would be impossible to cover a round-up of 2018 legislation without mentioning the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Far more than a mere buzzword (although at times it has felt that way): from 31 May 2018, GDPR changed the way we work in the UK forever.
The legislation itself is an update from a previous iteration of data protection policy, but updated to remain relevant to today’s society. The regulation aims to protect consumers from unwanted contact from organisations, handing them more power over their personal information. Organisations are held to account with fines up to 4% of their annual turnover, and must be able to define where, when, why and how they store personal information.
If organisations are transparent, use data for a purpose, have attained appropriate permission for that purpose, only store the data they need, retain accurate data, store securely and are able to delete all of an individual’s data (and send details of their data at the request via a right to erasure request) then they will be compliant.
Essentially, be more careful and only hold data you need and have specific permission to use in that way. If you’d like any more information on how the GDPR affects you as an employer and what steps you need to take, including how to carry out an audit, you can contact our team today who would be happy to discuss this with you.
Read More: 12 Steps for GDPR Compliance
4. Uber’s High Court Appeal set a precedent
2018 was the year that the Court of Appeal upheld an employment tribunal’s decision that Uber drivers were in fact classed as workers. The taxi giant previously argued that their drivers are self-employed, therefore negating the need to provide standard workers’ rights including sick pay and holiday.
If upheld by the Supreme Court (following an appeal from Uber), Uber drivers will be entitled to minimum wage, holiday and sick pay and other contractual rights of an employee.
This is of huge significance to the so-called ‘gig economy’ and only time will tell what the future holds for the many thousands of people working for companies like Uber, Deliveroo, Pimlico Plumbers, Ocado and DPD whose business models are reliant on the gig economy.
5. Statement of employment particulars: a right at less than two months’ employment
The 2018 Stefanko & Others Vs Maritime Hotel Ltd set a precedent that confirms all employees are entitled to a statement of employment particulars, or T&Cs (Section 1), when they have worked for more than a month but less than two.
In this case, waiting staff at a hotel claimed their employment terminated when they complained about a shortfall in their wages.
Because one of the waitresses involved in the case, who had worked there for six weeks, did not receive a statement of employment, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) reversed the initial decision and stated that she was indeed entitled to compensation because she did not receive a section 1 statement. Even though employers have two months to provide this information at present, if a worker’s employment is terminated before they reach two months’ of employment, and they have been employed for more than one month, they are entitled to a statement of employment particulars. It is expected that from April 2020 this will be a required from day one.
We hope that you are looking forward to the new challenges that 2019 will bring as much as we are, and found this article useful. If you want to ensure that your HR practices are consistent with employment law this year, or if you would like to discuss any other HR solutions, please contact our team. We would love to hear from you.