2018 promises to be a busy year in the world of HR. So we’ve pulled together a list of 8 top things you need to keep on your radar.

1  New minimum wage rates

The National Living Wage (the rate for those who are 25 or over) will increase from £7.50 to £7.83 per hour from April 2018.

The National Minimum Wage (for those aged under 25), the hourly rates will increase as follows:

  • from £7.05 to £7.38 for those between 21 to 24 year olds
  • from £5.60 to £5.90 for between 18 to 20 year olds
  • from £4.05 to £4.20 for 16 and 17 year olds
  • from £3.50 to £3.70 for apprentices.

2  Gender pay reporting

Private sector and voluntary sector employers with 250 or more employees in England, Wales and Scotland are required to publish their first gender pay report by 4th April 2018.

Employers will need to publish the following information:

  • The gap between the mean and median average hourly pay rates for male and female employees
  • The gap between the mean and median average bonus paid to male and female employees
  • The proportion of male and female employees who were given bonuses in the previous 12 month period
  • The proportion of men and women in each quartile pay band (lower, lower middle, upper middle and upper quartiles).

It must be published on the company’s website and include a statement that confirms the accuracy of the information. To find out more, read our article on gender pay reporting.

3  Data protection

The way in which personal data is used and protected at your organisation is set to change on 25th May 2018 with the introduction for the EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

It will replace the current Data Protection Act and brings about a number of changes that employers need to be mindful of. The Regulations scrap the option of employers charging a fee for subject access requests, introduce a compulsory reporting requirement if there has been a breach and impose high maximum penalties for failure to comply.

Although there are a number of loose ends at the moment, employers need to be prepared for the changes by updating policies, ensuring that staff are appropriately trained on data protection issues, and having data protection at the forefront of their minds when processing data. To explore this further, see the ICO’s useful guidance.

4  Modern employment practices

In November 2017, the Work and Pensions Committee and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee produced a Bill, which took inspiration from the Taylor Review.

The main proposals are as follows:

  • Companies who have a self-employed workforce above a certain size should adopt a model of worker status by default. It would be up to the employer to demonstrate if someone is self-employed rather than the individual challenging their employment status at an Employment Tribunal.
  • The government should provide more clarity on the definitions of employment status.
  • The government should pilot a pay premium on the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage for those workers with non-contracted hours.
  • The government should extend the obligation to provide a written statement of employment particulars to cover ‘workers’. This should be provided within seven days and must contain a clear statement of whether the individual is an employee or a worker.
  • If an employer has already lost a similar case, there should be a duty on Employment Tribunals to consider the use of higher punitive fines and costs orders. There should also be stronger penalties for repeat or serious breaches of employment legislation and ‘naming and shaming’ to all non-accidental breaches of employment rights by businesses.

It also made proposals about abolishing the Swedish derogation loophole for agency workers and increasing the time allowance for a break in service.

It will be interesting to see how the proposals are acted upon in 2018.

5  Key Judgments

We are waiting for the judgement of the Supreme Court in Pimlico Plumbers Ltd and another v Smith. In this case, the Court of Appeal ruled against Pimlico Plumbers, stating that their self-employed contractor was actually a worker and had the right to holiday pay, minimum wage and all the other rights that workers are entitled to.

Just recently, the case of King v Sash Windows was put before the European Court of Justice and will be put before the UK Court of Appeal next year. This case has the potential to have significant repercussions on the right to holiday pay. In this case, Mr King worked on a ‘self-employed commission-only contract’, therefore he was not entitled to paid annual leave and any time he did take holiday it was unpaid. Upon termination of the employment relationship, he claimed he was actually a ‘worker’ and tried to recover payment for untaken/unpaid holiday accrued during his 13 years of employment. The Court stated that he is entitled to payment for the whole period, regardless of whether he requested the leave or not.

Employers in the care sector will also be taking note of the Court of Appeal decision on minimum wage for sleep-in shifts.

6  New statutory rates

The statutory weekly rates of pay for maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption leave are marginally increasing in April 2018. It will increase from £140.98 to £145.18.

The weekly rate of statutory sick pay will also rise from £89.35 to £92.05.

7  Fit for Work scheme

Parts of the Fit for Work scheme – a government-funded initiative, which offers free web and telephone health and work advice and a free referral for an occupational health assessment for eligible employees – will be scrapped.

As of 31st March 2018, assessment services in the England and Wales will come to an end. As of 31st May 2018, assessment services will draw to a close in Scotland. However, employers will still be able to use the helpline and website for health and work advice.

8  Grandparents leave?

The government announced its intention to extend the right of Shared Parental Leave to grandparents. This was due to become a reality in 2018, but as of yet, there have been no consultations launched.

Anything else?

Of course, we also will be keeping an eye out on Employment Tribunal fees. The Lord Chancellor, David Lidington, has indicated that the government’s intention to reintroduce some form of fee to access Employment Tribunals, but no further details have been provided at this moment.

We will also see the progress of the Paid Parental Bill. The Bill proposes that parents who have lost a child under the age of 18 should have a statutory right to parental bereavement leave and pay.

And of course, all eyes and ears will be kept open for Brexit negotiations.

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Call us on 0345 226 8393.

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