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Diversified Industrials - Bite size update on HR issues

  • United Kingdom
  • Employment law
  • Industrials

19-07-2017

With the many other political and economic issues to take on board in recent months, some key developments in employment law may have slipped off the radar of some employers. This includes the requirement to publish an annual slavery and human trafficking statement, new “gender pay gap” reporting obligations, developments in the area of contingent workers/the gig economy and the new apprenticeship levy.

Modern Slavery

Modern Slavery legislation has been in force since October 2015, however the requirement to publish an annual slavery and human trafficking statement applies to financial years ending on or after 31 March 2016. Companies are expected to publish the statement (which must be signed and approved at the highest level in the company and made accessible on the company’s website homepage) as soon as possible after the end of the financial year and in any event within 6 months of the financial year end. Therefore, those companies with financial year end on 31 December 2016, should have published by no later than 30 June 2017. Whilst there are currently limited penalties for non-compliance, there is scope for reputational damage by pressure groups and the government “naming and shaming” companies who fail to comply. Read our guide.

Gender Pay Gap

The new reporting obligations came into force in April this year, which oblige larger employers to report on their “gender pay gap”. Employers are required to publish specified data on their website and a government-sponsored website, including the difference between the median and mean average hourly rate of pay and average bonuses paid to male and female employees and the proportions of male and of female employees who receive bonuses. In the private sector, employers’ first gender pay reports will have to be published no later than 4 April 2018, based on hourly pay rates as at 5 April 2017 and bonuses paid between 6 April 2016 and 5 April 2017. Read our frequently asked questions.

Contingent workers/gig economy

Business models relying on contingent workers, including the so-called ‘gig’ model which relies on those working flexibly on a self-employed basis, have been challenged recently through a wave of cases in the employment tribunals. An increasing number of contingent workers are applying to employment tribunals to argue that they have ‘worker’ or ‘employment’ status in a bid to gain additional rights. In 2016, Theresa May commissioned Matthew Taylor to consider how employment practices need to change in order to keep pace with modern business models such as those reliant on contingent workers. The recommendations following that review have now been published, which include the burden of proof in employment status claims being reversed (so that the employer has to prove that the claimant is not an employee or ‘worker’) and ‘workers’ having the right to receive a written statement of terms and conditions. Read our briefing and watch out for our contingent worker international webinar coming soon.

Apprentices/apprenticeship levy

It became an offence on 1 April this year for anyone providing, or offering to provide, a course or training in England to describe it as an apprenticeship when it is not a statutory apprenticeship. Further, the apprenticeship levy came into force on the same date, with the levy of 0.5% of the pay bill being collected from UK public and private sector companies with a pay bill exceeding £3 million. An allowance of £15,000 will be available to offset against payment of the levy (and, in some cases, will operate to reduce the pay bill below the threshold at which the levy applies). For companies in a group, only one allowance of £15,000 will be available and it will be for the companies themselves to decide how this is apportioned. See our flowchart for further information on applying the levy and assessing levy funds.