What's occurring in 2019 - An employment law update

29/01/2019

Although politicians might be slightly distracted with this Brexit cloud hanging over us, 2019 will bring important changes to employment laws likely to affect employees and businesses. With a number of employment law movements continuing through transitional periods, which is common in the ever changing landscape of employment law, here are a few of the major developments to keep an eye out for:

GDPR

As GDPR continues to settle into practice, high profile fines for companies such as Google, Facebook and Heathrow Airport will continue to raise people’s awareness of their rights under data protection. With rumoured plans afoot for some employers to microchip their employees, which will sometimes benefit the employee as much as the employer, we are still likely to see further clashes between companies and employees on this.

#MeToo and Non-disclosure agreements

Although there have been a number of highly publicised investigations being carried out into the ongoings of celebrity lives, other than amendments being made to settlement agreements, in our experience we are yet to see the #MeToo have a significant impact in the number of employment tribunal cases on sexual harassment. I would predict that this will change as the movement filters down to protect employees from any unwanted and degrading treatment caused by their sex.

Sleep-in workers, On-call workers and Minimum wage

It is unlikely now that the Mencap case will be heard by the Supreme Court in 2019. It is more likely to be heard at some point in 2020. The ramifications of this case could be huge for both employees and employers involved in sleep-in nightshifts. This could in turn have a knock on effect for any employees or workers who work on-call shifts. This case could result in all workers working sleep-in shifts being paid National Living Wage for the full shift, even while they are sleeping. What is more, it could result in back payments for shifts already worked and could cost the care sector £400m. It is worth keeping an eye on how this case develops.

Uber and employment status

The string of gig economy cases continues, with Uber losing their case in the Court of Appeal at the end of 2018. They have indicated an intention to appeal, and although this case is also now also unlikely to be heard in 2019, it is worth keeping an eye on as it could change the landscape of employment relationships. This case is likely to pave the way for other cases focussing on employment status, and may well influence how the Taylor Review is implemented by the government.

Keep an eye out too for any developments on the employment rights of foster carers!

Brexit

You may be wondering why there has been no further mention of that dreaded “B” word mentioned at the top of the page, so often the elephant in the room. The truth is, apart from being fed up talking about it, is that with all the uncertainty surrounding it, there are few predictions that can be made. Apart from being aware of your, or your employees', rights to work in the UK, at this moment we will have to wait and see what kind of deal, if any, is finalised. Even the fee for settled status looks like it will now be revoked. We will of course be keeping our fingers on the pulse so that we can give advice to employees and employers on their individual situation at the time, but for the meantime we, like everyone else, will have to wait and see what junk is brought in by that elephant’s trunk.

Dates for the diary

In amongst all of the uncertainty currently surrounding employment law, there are some definite changes taking place in 2019. Whether you are an employee, worker or running a business, make sure you note the following in your diaries:

Itemised payslips – 6 April 2019

One thing that is for sure is that as of 6 April 2019 the right to an itemised payslip will not only apply to employees, but also workers. This means anyone on a zero hours contract, or working on any casual arrangement, needs to be given an itemised payslip. In addition, if the employee’s or worker’s pay varies according to the amount of time worked, these payslips must now have a breakdown of the total number of hours worked.

Increases to minimum wage – 1 April 2019

With the government’s continued aim to have the National Living Wage at 60% of the country’s median earnings, there will be another increase to the National Living Wage to £8.31 per hour for any employee or worker aged 25 and over as of 1 April 2019.

There will be rises too for the other minimum wage rates:

  • £7.70 for any employee or worker aged 21 but under 25.

  • £6.15 for any employee or worker aged 18 but under 21.

  • £4.35 for any employee or worker under 18, but not legally required to be in school.

  • £3.90 for an apprentice.

Increases to sick and family linked payments – 6/7 April 2019

Keep an eye out for the increases to sick and family linked pay.

  • Statutory Sick Pay will increase to £94.25 per week as of 6 April 2019.

  • The rate for StatutoryMaternity Pay, Adoption Pay, Paternity Pay, Shared Parental Leave Pay and Maternity Allowance will increase to £148.68 per week.

Increases to auto-enrolment contributions – 6 April 2019

Lastly, the final phasing stage of the auto-enrolment process will take place on 6 April 2019. The minimum contribution as of this date will go up to:

  • Employer = 3%

  • Employee = 5%

  • Total = 8%

Whatever your query through 2019, the employment team at Balfour+Manson are here to help.