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Ring out the old, ring in the new – make it your resolution to keep up with employment law changes in 2018

Written by Simon Morgan, South East London and North Kent

Hopefully 2017 was a happy and prosperous year for you and your firm. But of course, nothing stays the same in the world of business. So if you want to make a success of 2018, it’s essential that one of your top New Year’s Resolutions this year is to stay on top of employment law changes.  Here are our top five things to look out for over the next 12 months.

  1. Brexit

18 months after the referendum that decided to take the UK out of the EU, we’re still not a lot closer to knowing what Brexit will really mean for the economy. But the Government is absolutely committed to Britain exiting in March 2019, so over the coming year we’re likely to start getting a lot more detail about how this will affect us. What we do know now is that, whatever the final deal looks like, it will have massive implications for human resources – from plugging skills gaps, to recruiting and retaining the best staff, to maintaining employee confidence.  Make sure you follow developments closely and proactively plan for anticipated changes so that you’re in the best possible position to respond.

  1. The General Data Protection Regulation

It’s pretty difficult to read an HR blog without seeing a mention of the forthcoming GDPR, but it’s so important that we couldn’t possibly write about 2018 without mentioning it. In case you’ve been living in a cave for the past year, the GDPR comes into force in May, and with fines for non-compliance reaching as high as €20m or 4% of global turnover (whichever is higher), it’s absolutely imperative that you’re prepared for it. Just because you’re a small firm, don’t be fooled into thinking it won’t affect you – if you’re a business trading in the UK, you will be required to comply with the new regulation. For more information, see the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)’s 12-step guide.

  1. Auto-enrolment pension provisions

Under auto-enrolment, minimum pension contributions must increase over time. In 2018, employers may be required to increase the amount of their contributions into their automatic enrolment pension – currently, the minimum employer contribution stands at 1%, but this will increase to 2% from 6 April. The increase in minimum contributions should be simple to do, but you will need to make sure that you’re sufficiently prepared – pension scheme trustees and providers, and payroll providers, all have a key role in making sure the process runs smoothly.

  1. Holiday pay

The Working Time Regulations 1998 entitle all workers and employees to a minimum 28 days paid holiday every year. This can include bank holidays, of which there are usually eight per year. In 2018, Good Friday falls on 30 March while in 2019 it falls on 19 April, meaning that there is no Good Friday bank holiday within a holiday year running from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019. As such, some employers will find themselves in breach of the regulations unless they provide an extra day’s annual leave. If the employment contract states an employee is entitled to ‘20 days plus bank holidays’ in the holiday year, then the employer would have to grant an additional day in this current holiday year ending March 2018. You should check your employment contracts and if in doubt contact The HR Dept.

  1. Employment tribunals

In July, the Supreme Court ruled that Employment Tribunal fees are unlawful as they prevent access to justice and are indirectly discriminatory. Employers who were ordered to repay fees to a claimant will therefore be eligible to be reimbursed for those fees, just as claimants will be. There may be other related fees that employers can recover too, such as where they’ve paid for judicial mediation. Of course, the flip side is there’s also likely to be an increase in the number of tribunal claims being brought now that fees are no longer payable – this is likely to place additional burdens on HR departments so make sure you’re prepared.

This is just a snapshot of some of the more important changes to employment law that businesses will be facing in 2018. If you think that your business might need some additional HR support to rise to those challenges, don’t hesitate to get in touch with The HR Dept.

Contact Simon Morgan [email protected]. Tel 0345 634 9154.