Review of the year: 6 key employment issues from 2017

Peninsula Team

December 12 2017

2017 has been a busy year for employers and employment law. Here, we recap on the big decisions, key movements and the important changes that have taken place over the previous year.

1. Removal of tribunal fees

With potentially the most significant decision in years, the Supreme Court ruled the tribunal fee scheme was unlawful in July 2017. Since then, claimants have not been required to pay a fee to bring a tribunal claim and it is expected claims will increase by over 70% to reach pre-fee levels.

Those who have previously paid a fee, thought to total £32 million, have also been provided with the chance to apply for reimbursement of these fees, along with interest.
The Secretary of State for Justice has confirmed the government is looking at introducing a new fee regime, however, it’s likely this will pitch fees at a much lower level to ensure these don’t restrict access to justice.

2. Sexual harassment in the workplace

Over the last few months, the spotlight has truly focused on sexual harassment in the workplace as numerous allegations, especially historic complaints, have been raised.

As awareness increases, employers need to ensure they’re taking proactive action and dealing with concerns as they arise. Having an effective anti-harassment policy, implementing this, carrying out training, and taking all allegations seriously will help tackle this issue.

3. Taylor Report and employment status

The buzzword for 2017 has been ‘gig economy’ as more individuals are seeking tribunal decisions on their true status and employment rights.

The Taylor Report on modern working practices was published in July and made a number of recommendations to the government to ensure the provision of good work and correct rights for workers. The government was expected to review and respond to the report before the end of the year, but this has now been delayed to early 2018.

4. Carry-over of holiday leave

A landmark European Court of Justice decision has found where employers don’t put workers in a position to exercise their right to paid annual leave, workers can carry over their accrued, but untaken, annual leave for an unlimited period. If untaken, then they are entitled to a payment in lieu for this leave at the end of their engagement.

This decision will have serious impact for employers who have wrongly classed their workers as self-employed as they may find themselves facing significant liability at the end of the relationship.

5. Apprenticeship levy

Since April 2017, large organisations with an annual paybill of over £3 million have been required to pay 0.5% of their paybill into a digital apprenticeship account. This money is then available to spend on apprentice training for 24 months, before expiring.

The levy was introduced to help the government reach their target of 3 million new apprenticeship starts by 2020. The figures, however, show that there was a fall in the number of apprenticeships between May-July 2017. It’s likely this can be attributed to organisations putting their apprentice plans on pause to understand the levy and put new training plans in place.

6. Gender pay gap reporting introduced

In an attempt to increase transparency and encourage action, the government introduced a requirement for employers with 250 or more employees to calculate and publish a report on their gender pay gap.

Although months have passed since the requirement was introduced in April, many employers are yet to publish their report. Its thought there will be an influx of reports published near the deadline of 4th April 2018.

Not enough hours in the working day? The partnership between Peninsula and Croner Reward means complying with the law is easier than ever. Croner Reward will calculate and create your company’s gender pay gap report – speak to your HR expert for more information.

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