Essential Employment Law UpdatesElaine Goodwin
Employment law is probably the fastest changing area of law and it is hard to keep abreast of the constant updates and changes. We have listed below some of the upcoming key changes to provide a snapshot of some recent employment law updates.
All employers with staff in a pension scheme for automatic enrolment need to take action to ensure at least the minimum contributions are being paid into the pension scheme. The minimum contributions for auto-enrolment pension schemes will increase from 6 April 2019 for both the employer and employee. Employers will have to contribute a minimum of 3%, up from 2%, and the employee a minimum of 5%, up from 3%, giving a total minimum contribution of 8%.
From 6 April 2019, changes to the Employment Rights Act 1996 will mean that employers must provide payslips to ‘workers’ and not just to employees. Also, if an employee or worker’s pay varies according to the hours they work then employers must include the total number of hours worked in their payslips.
National Minimum Wage & Other Payments are to increase from 6 April 2019
- Sick Pay will increase from £92.05 to £94.25
- Maternity/Paternity/Adoption Pay will increase from £145.18 to £148.68
- Lower Earnings Threshold increases from £116 to £118
National Living Wage for those 25 and over has gone from £7.83 to £8.21.
National Minimum wage has gone up at the following rates:
21-24 – £7.38 to £7.70
18-20 – £5.90 to £6.15
16-17 – £4.20 to £4.35
The Apprentice rate has also risen from £3.70 to £3.90.
Gender Pay Gap Reporting
By 4 April 2019 private organisations with 250 or more employees will be expected to publish their gender pay gap figures. This will be only the second year employers have had to undergo this reporting exercise, but there is a marker now to determine whether any previous pay disparity has been addressed.
The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Act 2018 is expected to come into force in 2020. This gives employed parents the right to 2 weeks leave if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Case Law Updates
WM Morrison Supermarkets plc v Various Claimants – (vicarious liability)
This claim relates to data protection and the misuse of private information, breach of confidence and vicarious liability.
This was a group litigation claim by just over 5,500 employees of the supermarket chain Morrisons, due to the misuse of their private information. A senior IT auditor was entrusted with passing on the payroll information to an external auditor, but took a copy of the data and uploaded it to the internet. That individual was convicted of a criminal offence.
However, the Court of Appeal found that Morrisons was vicariously liable for the actions of the individual who was acting in the course of his employment.
Hargreaves v Manchester Grammar – (withholding evidence)
The Claimant in this case was a teacher with an unblemished career until he faced an allegation that he acted inappropriately by grabbing a pupil. The Claimant was dismissed and the Employment Tribunal (ET) found the dismissal to have been fair.
The Claimant appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) arguing that given the career-changing impact of the allegation, the Respondent’s investigation was inadequate. He claimed that, in particular, the ET erred in its approach to the Respondent’s failure to disclose to him and the disciplinary panel specific evidence from potential witnesses.
The EAT held that the ET correctly directed itself as to the higher standard of investigation required to be carried out where the employee is potentially facing career-changing consequences. Also, it concluded that the employer acted within the range of reasonable responses where it withheld from the disciplinary panel evidence of witnesses who would not have had a direct view of the incident, and who had said they had seen nothing. It was also an important point that the Claimant had not taken issue with this during the internal process.
It would be advisable however in any similar circumstances for the investigator to explain in their report why such evidence had not been relied upon.
Employment Tribunal Statistics
It is interesting to note that for the period April to June 2018 (compared to the same period in 2017) there was a marked increase in the number of Tribunal claims lodged, which read as follows:
- An increase of 165% of single employment tribunal claims lodged
- An increase of 344% in the number of multiple claims lodged
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