2019 - What does the year hold for employment law?

2019 is set to be a unique year in politics, with the UK’s departure from the EU looming ever closer. As such, the focus of the government has for once been veered away from substantive legislative changes in other areas.

Having said this, employment law is known to be an ever-evolving area, and despite the Brexit agenda taking precedence, there are still some changes employers need to be aware of.

Karen Credie KMC Human Resources

Pay reporting

Pay ratio reporting: from 1st January 2019 UK listed companies with more than 250 employees must report on stakeholder and employee engagement and publish and justify the pay difference between their CEO and their average UK worker.

Gender pay reporting: the second set of gender pay gap reports are published in March/April. This will provide the chance to evaluate progress and could give rise to extending gender pay reporting obligations.

Ethnicity pay reporting: A consultation on ethnicity pay reporting comes to an end in January. Following this, mandatory ethnicity pay reporting rules, similar to those in place for gender pay reporting, could be implemented, although the timeline for such changes could extend to years.

Living wage increases

The National living/minimum wage will increase on 1st April – bringing the minimum rate of pay for those aged 25 years and over to £8.21 (up from £7.83).

Increases to statutory payments

From April, statutory rates for Statutory Maternity Pay/Statutory Paternity Pay/Shared Parental Pay/ Adoption Pay will also go up to £148.68 per week (from £145.18) and Statutory Sick Pay will also increase to £94.25 (from £92.05)

Itemised pay statements

From 6th April, workers will become entitled to an itemised pay statement, setting out their hours worked where pay varies, a right only previously extended to employees. Businesses that use payroll services will need to pass details of workers across to their provider in plenty of time for the changes to be implemented.

Increase to auto-enrolment pension contributions

As of April 2019, the total minimum contribution to auto-enrolment pensions will increase to 8%. Employers must make a minimum contribution of 3%, with the employee making up the difference. Businesses employing a large number of employees will face a significant increase to their auto-enrolment bill and will need to consider whether they will stick to the minimum, or offer a higher percentage payment.

Employing foreign workers

This will be a key one to watch following the UK’s exit from the EU. Regardless of the deal that is eventually reached, if at all, there will be some changes to immigration rules due to the end of the free movement, which will lead to restrictions on the employment of EU workers. Although there is likely to be a significant transition period, businesses that rely heavily on EU workers will need to begin to factor this into their recruitment and workforce planning.

Other ones to watch…

We are expecting judgements from a number of key employment law cases this year, notably including the supermarket equal pay claims case, and the treatment of pay in relation to workers on sleep-in shifts.

The government recently announced a number of proposed legislative changes in its ‘Good Work Plan’. Aiming to address the country’s flexible work force, in particular in relation to working status and rights, we can expect more detail and a timetable to implementation this year. For more information on any of the above detailed changes or to speak to us about any aspect of employment law or HR in your business, please get in touch.