There are a number of important employment laws under review for 2015 that could well have slipped under your radar. To help you stay on top of everything that is going to happen in 2015 – not just the obvious – we report on the significant changes expected for 2015 that are curiously less-known.
Collective redundancies; counting to 20
You might have thought the law was settled on the meaning of the words “at one establishment” when it comes to collective consultations involving 20 or more redundancies. The position, as far as the Employment Appeal Tribunal in the UK is concerned, is that the words “at one establishment” in TULCRA 1992 are to be disregarded and the business as a whole – as opposed to branches – should be looked at when counting the 20. See our report on the “Woolworths” case.
The question of whether this is the correct interpretation of the meaning of “at one establishment” has in fact now been referred to the European Court of Justice, meaning that this area is not so settled after all.
An opinion from the Advocate General is due on 5 February 2015, and this could signal a change of everything.
Collective redundancies; timing of decision
You may remember the case of USA v. Nolan which considered when the obligation to consult collectively in redundancy situations arises. The question is whether the trigger is when collective redundancies are foreseeable, or when they are actually proposed.
This is obviously of crucial importance to employers, and the matter is still to be heard by the Court of Appeal, hopefully next year, because the European Court of Justice failed to answer the question when it was referred to them.
So watch this space for developments in 2015.
Holiday pay and commission
We have previously reported on the case of Lock v. British Gas where the European Court of Justice held that commission should form part of holiday pay.
This is not the end of the matter, however. The case now needs to be heard by an Employment Tribunal, who will consider whether or not the domestic legislation can in fact be interpreted in line with the European Court’s decision, and how the actual amount of holiday pay should be calculated.
Expect to be nearer some clear guidance this year.
Disciplinary and grievance procedures for small businesses
The government has for some time promised a “simple online guidance tool” to help in particular small employers navigate the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
We have our fingers crossed that the new tool will go online next year.
New rapid resolution scheme
Expect further developments and consultations on a new “rapid resolution scheme”, which aims to resolve low value, simple claims, such as those for holiday pay.
This could amount to a significant overhaul of Employment Tribunal practice, and we will keep you posted as to any developments over 2015.
Paid parental leave
Did you know that, on 5 April 2015, children will make their parents eligible for unpaid parental leave up to their 18th birthday. At the moment the eligibility ceases after the child’s 5th birthday.
Put the date in your diary.
Enhanced Adoption rights
In April 2015:
- All adoption rights will be extended to cover couples adopting from outside the UK.
- They will also be extended to couples fostering children as part of a Fostering for Adoption placement.
Public Sector exit payments
Public sector employees who receive exit payments should expect to be the subject of new rules this year, meaning that they will have to repay money should they return to the public sector within a set period of time.
The government has confirmed that it intends to implement these proposals by no later than April 2016, meaning we will probably see the regulations this year.
Reform of the recruitment sector
Plans are to significantly overhaul the legislation regulating the recruitment sector. The aim is to introduce “the simplest regulatory framework possible”.
We expect to hear more about this over the coming year, and that the new legislation will:
- Restrict fees that can be charged to agency workers.
- Oblige recruitment businesses to make it clear who is responsible for paying agency workers.
- Prohibit anything preventing agency workers from moving between jobs.
Introduction of the Health and Work Service
Remember the announcement in July 2014 that this service would be introduced and operated by a private company providing:
- State funded assessments by occupational health professionals for employees on long-term sick of over 4 weeks; and
- Facilities enabling employees with complex needs to return to work?
Taxation and employment status
Some very significant provisions of the Finance Bill 2014 are expected to come into force on 6 April 2015.
These mean that whenever a self-employed person is involved in the personal provision of any services which are supervised at all, they will be taxed as if they were an employee.
This is a very significant but little reported change in tax law, meaning that it will be far less attractive for individuals to present as self-employed, and that employers could face significant problems if they do not employ them.
If any of these changes affect you or your business, please have a no obligation chat with one of our expert lawyers.