Newsflash: Looking ahead to 2016

looking-ahead-1-250Happy New Year and welcome to 2016 – a busy year for HR/employment law changes. To keep you up to speed with these we round-up the most significant below.

11 January 2016 – what’s happening?

Zero hours workers can claim against employers who enforce exclusivity clauses

Exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts were prohibited by a change in the law in May 2015. This means an employer cannot stop an individual from looking for work or accepting work from another employer. The current change to the law now gives zero hours employees the right not to be unfairly dismissed and all zero hours workers the right to not be subjected to a detriment for failing to comply with an exclusivity clause which has been included in a contract.

First half of 2016 – what’s happening?

Consultation on grandparental leave

We updated you in our October 2015 Newsflash Shared grandparental leave that the Government proposes to allow working grandparents to be able to take shared parental leave. The Government plans to consult on these plans during the first half of 2016.

Gender pay gap reporting

We updated you in our November 2015 Newsflash Mind the Gap! that the Government’s plans to require employers with more than 250 staff to publish their gender pay gap are expected to come into force in the first half of 2016.

Draft regulations are expected in early 2016 and will need to include details of the gap in bonus payments.

However, further details of what this means for employers are yet to be disclosed, including the particulars that they will need to provide and where the information should be published. It is expected that employers will be given time to get to grips with the legislation before the reporting requirements come into force.

1 April 2016 – what’s happening?

National Living Wage to be introduced

We updated you in our July 2015 Newsletter Government reforms (2): Budget news that a new mandatory National Living Wage of £7.20 per hour will be introduced for workers aged 25 or over. The National Minimum Wage will continue to apply to other workers. The Low Pay Commission intends to consult in Spring 2016 on any increase to the rate of the National Living Wage after its first year, and has been asked to report on this issue by October 2016.

No increase to statutory rates

We updated you in our December Newsflash No increase to statutory rates that the Government has proposed there should be no increase this year in statutory rates.

This means that the current weekly rates of such statutory payments look likely to remain at their current 2015/16 levels which are as follows:

  • Maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay: £139.58 per week (or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings if this figure is less than the statutory rate); and
  • Statutory sick pay (SSP): £88.45 per week.

2016 – what’s happening?

Trade Union reforms

We updated you in our July 2015 Newsletter Government reforms (1): Trade union bill on the Government’s proposed package of Trade Union reforms. The Trade Union Bill 2015-16 is likely to become law in 2016 bringing about changes to the balloting rules for industrial action and measures on picketing, facility time and political donations as well as additional powers for the Certification Officer.

Apprenticeships

It will become an offence for misuse of the terms “apprentice” or “apprenticeship”. The intention is to limit use of the terms to refer only to a Government funded apprenticeship. The aim of the new offence is to prevent training providers from offering poor quality “apprenticeship” training. The maximum penalty for non-compliance with the prohibition would be a fine.

Public sector workers cap on exit payments

We updated you in our October Newsletter Government reforms (1): Cap on exit payments that the Government plans to introduce a cap on exit payments made to public sector workers to end six-figure payoffs.

We will update you in more detail about these changes and any others as and when they come in. Keep an eye out in our Newsflashes and Newsletters…