A look back on employment law in 2016...
2016 is drawing to a close and the landscape of employment law has changed drastically over the past year. Below, we take a look at some of the key decisions and pieces of legislation which have been of huge interest over the past 12 months:
- On the 11 January 2016, the exclusivity terms in Zero Hours Contracts (Redress) Regulations 2015 came into force. This gave workers on zero hours contracts the right not to be unfairly dismissed or be subjected to a detriment for failing to comply with an exclusivity clause.
- The Government published a consultation called Mandatory Gender Pay Gap Reporting in February to gather views on what, if any, modifications should be made to the draft regulations (Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations) requiring large private and voluntary sector employers to publish the differences in pay between men and women within their organisations.
- The EAT in Peninsula Business Services Ltd v Donaldson looked at whether employers are required to continue making deductions from employee salaries in return for childcare vouchers during maternity leave. The EAT held that they did not and this would not amount to discrimination.
- With effect from 6 April 2016, employers who failed to pay an Employment Tribunal (“ET”) award were now subject to being issued with a penalty notice under the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015. The penalty is now 50% of the outstanding award subject to a minimum of £100 and a maximum of £5,000. Penalties are reduced by 50% if paid within 14 days.
- The EAT in Phoenix House Ltd v Stockman and another held that employers do not have to follow the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures where there is some other substantial reason for dismissal. Interestingly conflicts with Lund v St Edmund’s School, Canterbury. The waters in relation to this area of law therefore remain muddied and it is likely that we will see further cases develop in this area.
- In Pendleton v Derbyshire County Council and another the EAT held that the dismissal of a Christian teacher because of her refusal to end her marriage with a convicted sex offender was religious discrimination. This was one of the most controversial cases of 2016.
- In May, the Government opened up a consultation which called for evidence on non-compete clauses in the UK. The consultation was seeking views on whether non-compete clauses prevent people from starting up their own business after leaving a job. The consultation closed on the 19 July 2016 and the information received is still being analysed.
- Section 78 of the Equality Act 2010 was bought into force on 12 August 2016 which gives the Government power to make regulations requiring private and charity sectors to publish information relation to the differences between the pay of male and female employees.
- On 7 September new financial sector whistleblowing rules took effect.
- An Employment Tribunal rules on 28 October 2016 that drivers for the transport network, Uber, are to be recognised as workers within the Employment Rights Act 1996 and are entitled to certain workers’ rights. This decision is likely to be appealed.
- Grange v Abellio London Ltd Case assessed whether a worker is required to ask for rest breaks and be refused before they can bring a claim under the working time regulations. EAT held that employers have an active duty to make sure that workers are able to take a 20 minute rest break for every six hours worked.
- On 6 December the Government published the revised version of the draft Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations. Government has sought to address some of the concerns in relation to the original set of regulations which were published in February 2016. It is expected that the Regulations will come into force on 6 April 2017.
For more information, please contact our employment team on 0345 070 6000.