Just as in previous years, Employment Law will see some changes in 2016. Here we explore the main changes you need to be aware of for 2016, as well as some of the ones we expect to see later in the year.
This will be the first full year with a Conservative government in the UK for over 20 years. Their changes for 2016 will touch upon many areas of HR. All of the changes below can be expected to happen in 2016, albeit some don’t yet have confirmed timings.
- Gender Pay Reporting begins. Large employers (those with 250 staff or more) will be obliged to publish information about their gender pay gaps. This must be introduced by 26th March 2016 and must also include details of gaps in bonus payments. At the time of writing there is no prescribed format for how this should be reported, so it is expected that companies will be given some leeway to get to grips with reporting.
- National Living Wage introduced. This will be introduced from 1st April 2016. The Living Wage will be £7.20 and this will become the Minimum Wage for employees over 25 (and therefore compulsory). For employees under 25, the Living Wage however will not be compulsory – employers will only need to pay them the Minimum Wage of £6.50 (which will be reviewed in October 2016). Instead, employers are being encouraged to pay at least the Living Wage to staff voluntarily, to achieve the ‘Living Wage Employer Mark’, which will mark them out as a fair employer. Also with regard to pay rates, the penalties for not paying Minimum Wage will be doubled from April.
- Workers given power to seek redress where an employer ignores the ban on exclusivity clauses. Since 2015, exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts have been banned. The ban didn’t stop some employers trying to use them, so with effect from 11th January 2016, employees can now take such matters to an employment tribunal if they were dismissed or suffered a detriment as a result of such a clause in their contract.
- New rules to protect apprenticeships. Organisations are now banned from using the term ‘apprenticeship’ in job adverts, where the role is not part of a statutory apprenticeship.
- Freeze on statutory rates for parental and sick pay. Due to a fall in the Consumer Prices Index, there will be no changes to statutory parental pay or sick pay. Both are renewed annually and would normally change with effect from April.
- Updated laws on employing foreign workers (expected in October 2016) – The Immigration Bill makes various changes to the law applying to foreign workers. Illegal working will be specified as an offence, and all public-facing staff working in the public sector will be expected to speak English fluently. There will also be an immigration skills charge for employers that use foreign workers.
These are some of the more important changes that are already known about for 2016. There could well be further changes before the year is out and we will post any future changes here on the website. You may also find our email newsletter useful, so please sign up if you don’t already receive this from us.