The Latest Employment Law Blast  

employment law updateIn this short and sweet HR Blast, we’re aiming to make sure you are up to speed with all things Employment Law and People related! So, take two-minutes to read on and find out all you need to know about what is happening in the world…  

To Pay or Not to Pay – on a Snow Day 

The ‘Beast from the East’ has brought snow showers and arctic weather conditions to the UK.   

The big questions for employers though are what are your responsibilities, will you pay people who can’t turn up to work, will you discipline those who fail to turn up to work (presumably having made little or no effort to do so), will you accept excuses of ‘home working’ whilst knowing full well that building a snowman with your kids who are off school is not really contributing to the bottom line, will you stop all but emergency work travel or get staff to continue as is until they get stuck, will you grit even those paths and steps that aren’t generally used, just in case… , will you turn up the heating to make your staff happy with you and will your profits suffer a downturn if your productivity plummets for more than a day?  

Have we covered most of it?  

As in previous years, we recommend you put a clear policy in place regarding adverse weather so that staff are absolutely clear about your expectations e.g. will home working be permitted, can staff take holiday, will unpaid leave be given and so on! There are few hard and fast rules here and what applies to one employer does not have to apply to the next (as long as you are not breaching any contractual provisions) but you do need to manage clearly, fairly and consistently across all parts of your business hence the need for a good policy accompanied by great communication. There is nothing that impacts employee relations more than people feeling they are being hard done by or not treated fairly.  

No time to draft a policy? Buy an annual subscription (£149+VAT) from www.docswizard.co.uk today (you need to select premium HR Docs membership) and you can download a template policy immediately.  

Gender Pay Gap Reporting  

Urgent Note: If you have 250+ staff you have legal obligations to report in just 30 (ish) days’ time. Don’t miss the deadline. If this obligation has been forgotten about or overlooked as a result of too few resources in your HR team or too many other projects on the go, you need to take action IMMEDIATELY.   

This new legislation was introduced last year and is affecting all Companies with 250+ staff members (including both employees and workers). The deadline to report is 4 April 2018 (or 30 March 2018 for public sector employers).  

This new law forces companies to publish information about their gender pay gaps on an annual basis and there are six calculations to carry out. The results must be published on your website and a government website within 12 months. You should have received a letter from the Government Equalities Office with a reference number and security code to register, if you didn’t, you can register online.  

Please remember that is as important to communicate your findings internally as well as required by law. Your staff will not want to think that you are hiding information or keeping the true state of affairs from them. If you value good employee relations and want to retain great staff then make sure you have a plan around employee communication – involving your staff representatives if you have them.  

Run out of time or in need of our expertise, then call us urgently.  

Childcare Vouchers  

Please be aware that from April 2018 child care vouchers can no longer be given, even if you have an existing scheme in place. Instead the Tax Free Childcare scheme introduced last April will now apply to all.  

Termination Payments and Tax  

On 6th April 2018 there will be significant changes to the taxation of termination payments.  

As it stands, you are able to make a payment in lieu of notice (PILON) free of tax if there is no contractual right for you to make a PILON. This is because the payment would be treated as damages for breach of contract, and therefore, no obligation to pay tax on the payment (for the first £30,000).  

However, from April 2018, all PILON payments, whether contractual or not, will be subject to tax and NI deductions.  

Just as a word of warning, despite the tax benefit no longer applying, you may still wish to keep the PILON clause in your contracts, as this clause gives you the right to terminate employment without the employee working notice.   

Unfair Dismissal Compensatory Award  

From 6 April 2018, the maximum compensatory award in unfair dismissal cases will rise to £83,682 (up from £80,541), and the limit on a week’s pay for calculating statutory redundancy pay increases to £508 (up from £489). 

If you are in the process of making redundancies that will be affected on or after 6 April, as some of our clients are, please make sure you are using the correct figures to calculate a week’s pay.

National Minimum Wage Rates  

The rates for the National Living Wage and the National Minimum Wage will increase in April. Here are the current rates, and the rate changes for April 2018: 

Year 25 and over 21 to 24 18 to 20 Under 18 Apprentice 
April 2017 (current) £7.50 £7.05 £5.60 £4.05 £3.50 
April 2018 £7.83 £7.38 £5.90 £4.20 £3.70 

Zero Hours 

Yet again this month we have come across an organisation that is not aware of the illegality of adding holiday pay to normal hours worked for their zero hours contracted staff. Paying holiday pay with salary is both illegal and defeats the point of the legislation which is to ensure the health and wellbeing of staff by ensuring they have appropriate rest.   

From the Gov.UK website: Holiday pay should be paid for the time when annual leave is taken. An employer cannot include an amount for holiday pay in the hourly rate (known as ‘rolled-up holiday pay’). If a current contract still includes rolled-up pay, it needs to be re-negotiated. 

Employee Benefits 

We read this week that law firm Herbert Smith Freehills in London has added to its employee benefits gender transition surgery and psychological support. Are you reviewing your employee benefits package in 2018? If so, what will you prioritise?  

From a practical point of view, we might comment that it’s unusual to provide a hugely expensive employee benefit that will be applicable to a relatively small number of employees, if any at all. It would be interesting to find out also whether this approach has had a positive or negative impact on other staff who perhaps might feel they are being left out or disadvantaged financially. Research suggests that costs incurred per individual for this benefit could be in the region of £20,000-£35,000.  

However, the firm itself has positioned this as a benefit arising from its diversity and inclusion strategy ‘part of the organisation’s global policy to support transitioning employees and ensure a culture of inclusion for transgender staff … also offering other medical benefits for global transgender employees. This includes time off for medical appointments and procedures, as well as time off for employees who want to support family members who are transitioning’. 

Which, if any of your employee benefits are closely tied to strategy?  

In contrast, for a tiny fraction of the price of transgender surgery, today we were approached by a health and wellbeing firm offering finger prick blood tests on site for all men aged over 40 to identify in under a minute whether any of those being tested needed to be referred for urgent prostate checks. They state that in the past year as a result of these blood tests they have referred 80+ men for urgent tests by their doctor. That is potentially 80 men being treated for cancer weeks or months before they might otherwise have been diagnosed. What a fabulous benefit for both staff and employer.  

There are some benefits that make staff feel great, there are some benefits that support staff health and wellbeing and there are some benefits that give staff the wow factor and a real sense of being valued.  

Again, we ask the question, what do you prioritise and are you spending your money both wisely and in line with your strategy? 

GDPR 

And finally, we have been running a whole series of free seminars on GDPR for HR so it came as a bit of a shock this week to come across an HR person who had never heard of GDPR and was unaware they needed to be taking action.  

There are a lot of isolated HR people in organistions, many of whom are run off their feet each and every day with little or no support. With all that is going on its easy to miss out on what new laws are coming in and what might be coming along to derail your already busy year, but please, please don’t ignore GDPR as the numbers of staff asking for access to their information has, in our experience, never been greater and this is a new law with teeth that could cost you dear if you fail to do what you need to do.  

If you want a new data protection policy in line with GDPR then you can find one on www.docswizard.co.uk along with a number of other key data protection documents. Just £149+ VAT for an annual subscription giving you access to 100’s of key HR documents  

If you want some training in GDPR then why not ask about the free seminars we are running? 

Itemised Payslips for Employee AND Workers  

Due to come into force from 6 April 2019, employers will be required to provide itemised payslips to all workers and not just to employees. The payslips will have to itemise the number of hours a worker is being paid for or if they’re not paid on an hourly basis, itemise the different rates of pay for different types of work.  

Support from Jaluch 

Jaluch provides a package of materials and support for organisations wanting to assess and address the issues raised in this Blast. This includes 

  • Gender pay gap audits, data analysis, training for staff 
  • Data protection training for HR and for line managers  
  • Employee surveys 
  • Staff reps training 
  • Tribunal support and support with grievances, disciplinaries and investigations 
  • Employment law support and template documents.   
  • Supervisory, Management and Leadership development 

Jaluch supports around 350 organisations in the UK, often in order to provide extra resource to existing HR teams. Contact us for an informal chat about how we can support you!  

The information contained within this article is for general guidance only and represents our understanding of employment and associated law and employee relations issues as at the date of publication. Jaluch Limited, or any of its directors or employees, cannot be held responsible for any action or inaction taken in reliance upon the contents. Specific advice should be sought on all individual matters.

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