As ever, the year ahead sees a number of significant domestic employment law developments. A brief overview of them follows:
1. The General Data Protection Regulation (the GDPR) comes into effect
The GDPR which updates and harmonises data protection law across the EU, will come into effect on 25 May 2018 for all EU member states, including the UK.
Organisations need to be conducting data audits and policy reviews in the lead up to May, to ensure that their data protection practices are GDPR compliant. Many employers will need to issue new or updated privacy notices to employees and job applicants, outlining what data they collect and how the data is used.
Employers will also be conducting third-party contract reviews where they outsource data processing, for example to payroll and benefit providers, or to recruitment or consulting services.
Developing and implementing a GDPR compliance programme can be a resource-heavy undertaking. Accordingly, employers are encouraged to risk assess their compliance gaps and address the issues that pose the most significant risks first.
2. First gender pay gap reporting deadline
Private and voluntary-sector employers with 250 or more employees have until 4 April 2018 to publish their first gender pay gap report.
The reports will cover pay data from 2016 to 2017, including the differences in mean pay, median pay, mean bonus pay and median bonus pay between male and female employees. Reports also have to set out the proportion of male and female employees in the pay quartiles of an organisation and the proportion of male and female employees who received bonus pay.
Employers must post their reports on their own website and on a Government website.
As has been seen this week with the BBC, despite equal pay legislation coming into effect over 40 years ago, this is still a live issue and one that should be addressed by all employers, regardless of how many staff they have, as a matter of good practice.
3. Minimum wage rates increase
The national living wage for workers aged 25 and over will increase to £7.83 per hour on 1 April 2018.
Other national minimum wage rates will also increase, with rates rising to £7.38 per hour for workers aged 21 to 24, to £5.90 per hour for workers aged 18 to 20 and to £4.20 for workers aged 18 who are no longer of compulsory school age.
4. Statutory family pay amounts uprated
The weekly amount for statutory family pay rates will increase to £145.18 on 1 April 2018. This rate will apply to maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental pay and maternity allowance.
5. Brexit preparations
The Government’s initial agreement with the European Commission contained terms that protect the rights of EU citizens who currently reside in the UK to live, work and study in the UK following Brexit.
The announcement provides employers with more certainty as they continue to develop their contingency plans around Brexit. The agreement does not relate to the ability of new EU workers to migrate to the UK to work after Brexit. Employers in sectors that rely on considerable inflows of European workers still need to wait for confirmation of immigration arrangements following withdrawal from the EU.
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