2016 saw a number of legislative and case law updates, and we are already anticipating further developments in 2017. We have summarised below what we can look forward to in the coming months.
The apprenticeships levy is expected to come into force in April. The levy will require all UK employers with an annual wage bill of more than £3 million to pay 0.5% of that bill towards the cost of apprenticeship training.
Gender pay gap regulations are also expected to be implemented in April (postponed from October 2016). The regulations will compel employers with 250 or more employees to publish differences in pay between men and women, including differences in salaries and bonuses.
The current childcare voucher scheme is set to be replaced by a new tax-free childcare scheme in early 2017. Under the new scheme, eligible families will be able to claim up to 20% of qualifying childcare costs for children under five (or disabled children under 17) to a maximum of £2,000 per child per year.
April 2017 will also see restrictions in the salary sacrifice schemes that will attract tax relief. While such relief will still be granted for schemes such as childcare, pensions and cycle to work schemes, it will be removed from other schemes such as company vehicles. However, certain schemes in place before April 2017 may be protected on a transitional basis between 2017 and 2021.
Unison’s ever-ongoing judicial review into tribunal fees was dismissed by the Court of Appeal in August 2015, but will be heard by the Supreme Court in March 2017. It is not yet clear what the potential outcomes of the review might be, but it may be a moot point for Scotland as the Scottish government has indicated an intention to abolish fees north of the border.
One of the more well-known cases in recent years, Fulton v Bear Scotland, was heard by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) on 13 April 2016. The decision is expected soon but, given the general consensus reached in similar cases, it is expected that the EAT will confirm that holiday pay should include an element related to overtime.
In October 2016 an employment judge decided that a mostly female group of supermarket retail employees can compare their work to that of mostly male distribution employees in an equal pay claim. While a date for the hearing has not yet been set, the outcome could have huge financial consequences for the supermarket in question as well as any others in similar circumstances.
Perhaps one of the most significant decisions of the coming months will be in relation to Brexit. The High Court has stated that triggering Article 50 (effectively commencing our withdrawal from Europe) cannot be done without an Act of Parliament. The Supreme Court has heard the appeal and, if it agrees, it could significantly derail Theresa May’s hopes of commencing the exit process by March 2017.
If you have any questions on any of the issues raised in the above article, please contact Seanpaul McCahill.