What to expect in 2017
As we wave goodbye to 2016 and welcome 2017, we take a look at the significant employment law changes that are expected this year.
|22 December 2016||
The Code of Practice (English Language Requirements for Public Sector Workers) Regulations 2016
In 2015 the government consulted on a draft Code of Practice setting out language requirements for public sector workers.
The draft code supports Part 7 of the Immigration Act 2016, under which there will be a new duty for public authorities to ensure that their workers in customer-facing roles speak fluent English. The Government intends to proceed with the approach set out in the consultation. The Regulations containing this requirement came into force on 22 December 2016.
The UK voted to leave the EU on 23 June 2016.
On 2 October 2016, the Prime Minister announced that Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union will be triggered before the end of March 2017. She also announced that the next Queen’s Speech will include a Great Repeal Bill to repeal the European Communities Act 1972. The Government has refused to guarantee that employment protections post-Brexit will be preserved, stating that the Bill would convert existing EU law into domestic law ‘wherever practical’.
On 3 November 2016 the High Court held that the Government did not have the power to trigger Article 50 without the approval of Parliament. The Government subsequently applied to appeal the decision and the appeal was heard on 5-8 December 2016. The judgment is expected in early 2017.
Tax-free childcare scheme to be introduced
The Government plans to remove the current system of childcare vouchers and introduce a new tax-free childcare scheme. Under the scheme working families will be able to claim 20% of qualifying childcare costs for children under 5 up to a cap of £2,000 per child per year.
The scheme is available for families in which all parents in the household are earning £50 per week. Details about how the scheme will be rolled out will be revealed in due course.
|27/28 March 2017||
Employment Tribunal fees challenge: R (UNISON) v Lord Chancellor
Fees in the Employment Tribunal were introduced in July 2013. UNISON applied for judicial review of the decision to introduce fees which was dismissed by the Court of Appeal due to a lack of evidence as to the impact of fees on individual claimants. The reduction of number of claims on its own was insufficient to establish that claimants were unable to pay the fees.
UNISON sought permission to appeal to the Supreme Court and this will be heard on 27 and 28 March 2017.
|1 April 2017||
National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage
The National Living Wage (the rate for workers over 25) will increase from £7.20 to £7.50 per hour.
The National Minimum Wage for workers aged 21-25 rises from £6.95 to £7.05 per hour. For those aged 18-21 it increases from £5.55 to £5.60 per hour and for workers aged 16-17 it rises from £4 to £4.05 per hour.
The apprenticeship rate increases from £3.40 to £3.50 per hour.
|2 April 2017||
Rates of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP), Statutory Shared Parental Pay (SSPP), Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) and Maternity Allowance (MA) will increase from £139.58 to £140.98 per week.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will increase from £88.45 to £89.35 per week.
|6 April 2017||
Income tax personal allowance and thresholds to rise
The personal allowance for 2017/2018 will rise to £11,200. Basic rate threshold will rise to £32,400 and the higher rate threshold will increase to £43,600.
|6 April 2017||
Gender pay gap reporting requirements to come into force
Following a consultation the government published the final draft of the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017, on 6 December 2016. Subject to Parliamentary approval, the revised draft regulations are expected to come into force on 6 April 2017.
The Regulations require private and voluntary sector employers with more than 250 employees to collate gender pay gap, bonus gap and pay quartile information. The first reports will be due by 4 April 2018 and must be published for 3 years on the employer’s website and a central government website.
Separate pay gap reporting requirements are also expected to be introduced for public sector employers from April 2017. We are holding lunch time sessions in February to discuss the regulations further. Please contact Sejal Raja on email@example.com if you would like to attend.
|6 April 2017||
Apprenticeship levy on large employers to be imposed
This was announced in the Autumn Statement 2015. An apprenticeship levy of 0.5% will be imposed on all large employers whose wage bill is at least £3 million. The levy will be collected through PAYE. The purpose is to raise money to meet the cost of apprenticeship training.
Each employer will receive an allowance of £15,000 to offset against the payment of the levy.
Immigration skills charge
Section 85 of the Immigration Act 2016 will introduce an immigration skills charge. Consequently employers who employ migrant workers under tier 2 of the points-based system will need to pay a levy of £1,000 per certificate of sponsorship per year.
In addition the minimum salary threshold for migrant workers under tier 2 of the points-based immigration system will increase to £30,000.
|25 May 2018||
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is an EU regulation, and, subject to Brexit, will be effective in EU member states from May 2018.
The GDPR reflects a complete overhaul of EU data protection legislation and provides that organisations could be fined up to 4% of global turnover for breaches of GDPR.
For more information, advice or guidance, please contact:
Partner and Head of Employment
T. 020 7227 7410
This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.