Readers may be glad to know that there is (perhaps) a less-busy year on the horizon in terms of changes to UK employment law. However, there are still several developments of which employers should be aware:

  • Greater protection for zero-hours workers – As reported here, zero-hours workers have been given greater protection from employers who try to enforce exclusivity clauses which prevent workers joining other employers while engaged under a zero-hours contract.
  • Introduction of the National Living Wage – The National Living Wage will be introduced in April, applicable to employees aged 25-and-over. The rate will be £7.20 per hour, rising to at least £9 per hour by 2020.
  • The Trade Union Bill – The Trade Union Bill is currently progressing through Parliament.  The Bill proposes to increase the threshold in strike ballots for taking lawful industrial action, and to permit employers to use agency workers to cover for striking employees. The Bill should complete its passage through Parliament this year.
  • Changes to the taxation of termination payments – The government has been consulting on the future of taxation of termination payments, including the current exemption from tax of the first £30,000 of any termination payment. The government’s response to the consultation is expected in the early part of this year.
  • Consultation on grandparental leave – Consultation is scheduled to take place this year on proposals to extend shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents, with the proposals to be implemented in 2018.
  • Restrictions on public sector exit payments – Public sector termination payments will be capped at £95,000 and subject to claw back if the employee returns to the public sector within 12 months.
  • Gender Pay Gap Regulations due – The government is to require all private sector employers with 250 or more employees to publish gender pay gap information. Regulations to implement the legislation were scheduled to come into force by the end of March 2016, but they have not yet been published.

And finally…..the Prime Minister continues to re-negotiate the UK’s terms of membership of the European Union, with such negotiations expected to reach a conclusion in the first half of this year. No concrete proposals have been made regarding the application of EU employment laws in UK, but readers are encouraged to continue watching this space.