A Quiet October for Employment Law – But Future Change to Come

Whilst parliament’s focus may have been elsewhere in recent times, HR practitioners can expect a number of these anticipated legislative changes to come to fruition in 2017 and beyond.

A quiet October for employment law – but future change to come

The 1st October has been a key date in recent years for new employment law legislation to come into force.  Yet aside from the usual National Minimum Wage rates increase, this year has been rather quiet.  The expected implementation of gender pay reporting has been pushed back to April 2017 and the enactment of the Trade Union Bill has progressed slowly. Whilst parliament’s focus may have been elsewhere in recent times, HR practitioners can expect a number of these anticipated legislative changes to come to fruition in 2017 and beyond.

Further, whilst legislative employment law change has been slow in recent times, there have still been a number of key legal changes, achieved through alternative legal mechanisms, that prudent HR practitioners should be aware of.

September saw the introduction of new whistle-blowing rules to cover certain businesses that are FCA or PRA regulated.  These new rules follow recommendations made in 2013 by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards.  They apply to concerns raised by a wide range of individuals working in such organisations, not just employees and workers.  The new rules also require extra reporting requirements and additional responsibilities being placed upon an organisation’s appointed whistle-blowing champion.

The EAT (Employment Appeal Tribunal) has been active in clarifying existing legislation, with August seeing the publication of further case law guidance on the applicability of TUPE regulations in outsourcing (Service Provision Change ‘SPC’) situations.  This case, namely C T Plus (Yorkshire) CIC v Stagecoach, involved the discussion of the requirements of S3 (1) (b) specifically.  The case concluded that where an outsourcing contract was terminated by a local authority upon the commencement of an entirely separate commercial venture, which covered the same service, a SPC did not take place.  Hence TUPE was deemed not to apply in the situation. The EAT stressed the need for a 'common sense’ and ‘pragmatic' approach to the wording of the regulations.

Further, European Courts, whose judgments presently remain applicable to the interpretation of EU Directives in the UK, were active in July.  The European Court of Justice, in a case concerning the compatibility of the Poland’s Teacher’s Charter and the Working Time Directive, reconfirmed its previous position that paid annual leave entitlement will carry over into new leave years, in circumstances where it is not taken, owing to an employee’s ill health.  This reconfirms the position of the UK courts in the case of Stringer v HMRC.

With gender pay reporting requirements scheduled for April 2017, an ongoing House of Commons BIS committee inquiry on executive pay and boardroom composition is still outstanding and with the Trade Union Bill looming, future change is afoot.  Senior HR practitioners should remain in contact with their legal service providers over the coming year to ensure they have the correct strategy in place to comply with the changes that will affect their own organisations.

Emma Renke

Emma Renke

Emma Renke is Head of HR Services within MHR’s Managed Services department. Emma is a non-practicing barrister of 8 years call who specialises in employment law and has previously represented clients in the Employment Tribunal and County Court on over 300 occasions. Emma’s specialist interests are discrimination, TUPE and HR strategic change.

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