April 16th, 2019 / Insight posted in Articles

Employment law – what to expect in 2019

It is only four months into the year and we have already seen some key employment law developments. The remainder of the year is likely to be similarly eventful.

From 6 April 2019

The following key changes came into effect on 6 April 2019, which employers should be aware of.

  • Workers as well as employees now have the right to itemised pay statements. Total hours worked by individuals on variable pay must now be included on pay statements;
  • All termination payments above the £30,000 tax threshold are now subject to Class 1A employer National Insurance Contributions;
  • Statutory rates increased, including the cap on a week’s pay, statutory sick pay, the national living and minimum wages and pay for maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay and maternity allowance. You can find the rates here.

Greater redundancy protection for pregnant employees or returning mothers?

The right to be offered suitable alternative employment in preference to other employees at risk of redundancy may be extended beyond employees on maternity leave to returning mothers and pregnant employees who are not yet on maternity leave. We await an update on this following closure of the government’s consultation on 4 April 2019.

Executive pay gap reporting

In 2020, UK listed companies with over 250 employees will be obliged to publish the first report of the ratio between their CEOs and their average workers based on the 2019 to 2020 financial year. We recommend that payroll and HR departments with responsibility for reporting start collecting the data they need now.

Case law

Since the Employment Tribunal fees were removed, the number of cases being brought has increased dramatically and 2019 looks set to continue this trend.

Several cases involving employment status, most involving household name brands, are making their way through various stages of appeal. In most cases, individuals hired as self-employed contractors are managing to convince judges that they are workers, which gives them rights to holiday pay. As public awareness increases, employers who use contractors would be wise to take steps to mitigate their risks by updating their contracts and ensuring that the way their relationships with contactors works reflects true self-employment.

The Court of Appeal has decided that mostly female retail workers in an equal pay case can compare themselves against mostly male workers in the warehouses. This raises the risk of expensive claims for employers across the retail sector in particular but it also heightens awareness across the board that individuals from seemingly different roles can compare themselves against each other.

Cases alleging discrimination based on religion or philosophical belief will continue to be a risk for employers and we currently await the outcome of a claim where it is alleged that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief and therefore a protected characteristic.

Conclusion

Brexit is unlikely to result in a weakening of employment law protections and in fact the evidence is that the government intends to continue building protections in this area. Employers should ensure that they reduce the risk of potential claims.

Should you require any assistance or advice on HR or employment law issues, please contact Kingston Smith HR Consultancy Limited and a consultant will be happy to help.