Employment Highlights – February 2018

Key dates to look out for:

  • The Unpaid Trial Work Periods (Prohibition) Bill 2017-19 is scheduled to have its second reading debate on 16 March 2018.
  • Fit for Work Service will end in England and Wales on 31 March 2018.
  • First gender pay gap reports are due from the public sector by 31 March, and from the voluntary and private sectors by 4 April 2018.
  • The childcare voucher scheme will close to new entrants from 6 April 2018.
  • New rules on the taxation of termination payments will apply from 6 April 2018. – All payments in lieu of notice will be treated as earnings (subject to tax and class 1 NICs). Payments for injury to feelings fall outside the exemption for injury payments, except where the injury amounts to a psychiatric injury or other recognised medical condition.

The government has published its response to the Taylor Review, setting out proposals to increase workers’ rights and their awareness of those rights. Proposals include providing all workers with day-one rights, extending the qualifying period for continuous service, introducing harsher penalties for employers that fail to comply with employment legislation, and introducing an online tool to help workers determine their employment status. The government confirmed that many proposals required further consultation and therefore launched four separate consultations on employment status, the enforcement of employment rights, agency workers, and measures to increase transparency in the UK labour market. The government has already laid legislation before Parliament to fulfil some of their commitments, including the right to itemised payslips for all workers and for itemised payslips to show the number of hours for hourly paid workers.

The Court of Appeal has upheld an EAT decision that an employer who carefully considered whether an employee was disabled (by regularly consulting with occupational health advisers and holding return to work meetings) did not have constructive knowledge of their disability. The correct test was not whether the employer had done all that they could to determine the existence of a disability, but rather whether it could reasonably be expected to know of it.

The Supreme Court has held that a person born outside the UK between 1949 and 1983 to a British mother is entitled to apply to register as a British citizen. As the decision inevitably opens up the right of British citizenship by “double descent” (the passing of British citizenship outside the UK from a second generation to a third generation), it could lead to a significant increase in the number of applications for British citizenship.

In other news, the draft National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Regulations 2018 and the Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2018 (SI 2018/194) have been published, setting out new minimum wage rates and increased limits to certain employment tribunal awards.The Tax-Free Childcare scheme has opened to all eligible families, and a new Private Members’ Bill has been introduced seeking to extend shared parental leave and pay to self-employed contractors.

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