Employment law issues became part of the national conversation in 2018, shining a huge focus on advances in equal pay, workers’ rights as well as the noise around the #MeToo movement. In 2019, it’s important to look forward and consider the top things that will impact employment law throughout this coming year both for employers and employees. We’ve listed below Joelson’s five key HR expectations for the year ahead.
Of course, we couldn’t have an ‘expectations’ list without mentioning the elephant in the room. Nationally, Brexit’s significant impact has been due to the uncertainty surrounding the issue, but deal or no deal, it seems that workers’ rights are now entrenched with recognition of that status growing and expanding. The Prime Minister has committed that workers’ rights will not only be maintained but will be enhanced.
We are seeing employers such as the NHS and more recently, restaurant chain Carluccio’s, agreeing to pay for their EU nationals’ settled status applications once the scheme goes live in March of this year, and we’re expecting this to continue as the Brexit date gets ever closer. Should Labour win a government majority in a future election, then we can expect to see the rights of employees in the workplace significantly increased over time.
#MeToo Developments and Aftermath
Although it started in October 2017, we saw further progress of the movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault with the #MeToo hashtag last year. From an employment law perspective, the UK government has brought forward a review into the use of non-disclosure agreements in the workplace, following recent accusations that they are being used as a tool to quash and bury allegations of sexual misconduct at work.
The “Pence Effect”, where men avoid interactions with women in the workplace, seems to be having an impact in the financial services sector. As a wealth adviser notes in this Bloomberg article, hiring a woman is an “unknown risk” as male co-workers fear they will be accused of sexual misconduct or harassment.
Supermarket Equal Pay claims
November 2018 saw the first batch of equal pay claims lodged against UK supermarket Morrisons, with female staff in-store claiming they were unfairly paid less than their male counterparts. Other decisions on equal pay for other UK grocery stores will follow this year. In the Morrisons case, female shop workers who are paid less than male warehouse staff are seeking equal pay because they believe they are carrying out similar roles. We will be monitoring the progress of these equal pay decisions closely as they are likely to have a knock-on impact on other sectors.
Pay and Payslips
April 2019 brings changes for employers in producing pay slips under amendments to The Employment Rights Act 1996, which will come into force on 6th April. From this date onwards, the legal right to a payslip will be extended to include those who are recognised as “workers”, payslips to include the number of hours worked. This is in addition to increases in the National Living and National Minimum Wage from April.
The Government’s Good Work Plan (published in December 2018) states that it will create legislation to provide further clarity about worker status. This will include an obligation to give certain mandatory information given to workers on the first day of a new job. However, it seems these changes will not actually come into force until 2020. In the meantime, we should expect further decisions in the Tribunals and from HMRC regarding worker status, which we will be monitoring to see how the conversation moves forward.
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This article is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action.
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