Watch This Space - Changes on the Horizon in 2019

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04 February, 2019

While Brexit currently dominates the majority of our discussions, updates and most frequently, the news, there will be a number of Employment Law developments for businesses to watch out for over the next 12 months.

Post-Brexit Immigration rule changes

Once the UK leaves the EU free movement will cease to exist. In practice, this is likely to be delayed pending legislation to repeal the current arrangements. However, it will also take time to put in place the practical arrangements necessary to make this possible.

A 'settled status' scheme has been introduced by the government in which EU workers already in the UK will be able to live and work in the UK indefinitely.

Going forward, there are likely to be restrictions placed on the employment of workers from the EU, similar to other foreign nationals, which employers will need to be aware of.

However, with the recent developments in the Brexit ordeal, the key question is whether there is a deal or no deal?

Publishing the gender pay-gap report

Companies with 250 or more employees are reaching the deadline for the second round of declaration of their gender pay gap reports.

Reports are now published annually to the GOV.UK website. Those companies in the private or voluntary sector must also accompany reports with written statements confirming the accuracy of the report. There is no obligation to provide a narrative around any gender pay gap, but it should be considered that an explanation may help limit any reputational damage.

As this is the second year of reporting, comparisons with the previous year's reports can now be made and will perhaps highlight more companies of concern.

National minimum wage increases

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is set to increase again on the 1 April 2019 to £8.21 per hour. For 21-25 year olds to £7.70, for 18-20 year olds to £6.15 and for under 18's to £4.35.

While there is still a lot of debate about whether NMW is where it should be with respect to inflation, this is positive step forward for employees. However, businesses should beware of wages on the rise and take this as an opportunity to review their current pay structures in line with NMW and review their employee budgets for the year.

Prepare for parental bereavement and leave pay

This is welcome news, for the first time in history, under The Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act, parents who suffer the loss of a child under the age or 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy will be entitled to two weeks leave during their employment. Pay will be dependent upon eligibility criteria, similar to that of current family friendly rights.

This is expected to come into force in 2020.

Requirements for payslips to state the hours worked where pay varies

The Employment Rights Act (Itemised Pay Statement) (Amendment) Orders 2018 were put forward to Parliament in February 2018. The order will bring into force the requirement to itemise payslips showing the number of hours paid for where a worker is engaged on an hourly rate basis. Different figures must now be provided where an employee is paid a different rate for different types of work. This is to ensure greater transparency with regard to paying employees and avoid discrepancies on payslips. The order is due to be implemented on 6 April 2019.

Sexual harassment in the workplace

Following recent high-profile cases and contentious non-disclosure agreements, issues surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace have moved to the forefront of many people's minds and discussions. Campaigns such as the 'MeToo' movement have brought press attention to the matter and has encouraged a wealth of people to come forward with their unfortunate experiences.

With such an increase in the number of reporting complaints, employers should be mindful that grievances may be brought in relation to acts of sexual harassment dating back some time. Employers should ensure that complaints are investigated properly and fully, to prevent further misconduct happening in the future and reassure employees that their complaints will be dealt with seriously, on a case by case basis.

Sexual harassment policies need to be kept up to update. Employers should provide training to managers to deal with such complaints, as in some cases, it may have taken employees a lot of courage and strength to bring such complaints to the employers attention and should be dealt with sensitively, regardless of the facts.

Conclusion

2019 is anticipated to be a year of great change. While there is a lot of uncertainty around the effects and implementation of Brexit, businesses should not be afraid of making change in respect of their employment affairs. Employees are one of the keys to success in any business and should be managed and dealt with as such.

We understand that Employment Law can be complex and fast paced and that businesses want to take comfort from obtaining pragmatic and commercial legal advice. This is now crucial more than ever before, in light of the floods of Tribunal claims brought over the last six months.

If you require any assistance or would like to speak to a member of the Commercial Employment Team, you can get in touch using the contact form on our website (https://www.forbessolicitors.co.uk/business/employment.htm).

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