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Employment law update - March 2019

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Posted by Tina Chander on 21 March 2019

Tina Chander - Head of Employment Law
Tina Chander Partner - Head of Employment Law

Coming up – key dates

From 1 April 2019:

- The National Minimum Wage rates will increase

From 6 April 2019:

- Statutory sick pay limits rise from £92.05 to £94.25
- Tribunal limits applying to dismissals will increase: a week’s pay will increase to £525 and the limit on the maximum unfair dismissal compensatory award rises to £86,444.
- Minimum employee contributions to workplace pensions increase from 3% to 5%; and employer’s minimum contributions increase from 2% to 3%
- Employers with more than 250 employees are required to publish their second report on their pay gap, as it existed on 5 April 2018, by 6 April 2019 (30 March for public sector employers).
- All payslips must include the number of hours an employee has worked if their pay varies in relation to time worked.

From 7 April 2019:

- Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, and shared parental pay increases from £145.18 per week to £148.68 or 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

EU Settlement Scheme

The EU Settlement Scheme will be fully open by 30 March 2019. It applies to EU citizens and their close family members who are resident in the UK by 31 Dec 2020 – unless the UK leaves the UK without a deal. If that is the case, then EU citizens must be resident in the UK before 29 March 2019 (in the light of current developments this date may change). Employers are not expected to support or pay for the cost of the scheme, nor do they have any legal obligation to communicate it, including interpretation. Above all employers must not provide immigration advice. An unlimited number of people can apply to the Scheme and there is no fee for applications received after 30 March 2019. You can access the Employer Toolkit here.

The Good Work Plan

As noted in previous ebulletins, the Good Work Plan is broad in scope but light on detail in a number of areas, including employment status and tax, an area ripe for reform. As the number of cases before the courts will attest, employers are resisting claims by self-employed contractors to be redefined as workers principally because of the tax advantages of the latter. The Plan notes the government’s intention to align the ‘tax and rights framework’ but not how and when this should be done. This has proved a notoriously difficult issue to resolve, as the government’s attempt in 2017 to close the NI gap between employees and self-employed contractors showed.

Non-disclosure agreements

Following considerable press coverage revealing the misuse of NDAs, specifically in cases of harassment or discrimination, the BEIS has launched a consultation, seeking views on how best to regulate confidentiality clauses. The consultation ends on 29 April 2019. To have your say, visit gov.uk.

YEAR: your employment annual retainer

Reduce the time you spend dealing with HR matters, and make sure that you comply with an increasingly complex area of law, by joining our YEAR club. Your annual membership fee covers a range of services from an initial review of your HR documents, email and telephone support, and discounted rates for onsite visits - click here for the complete list.For more information please contact Tina Chander or visit our website.

Case law update

Tread carefully if dismissing employee close to a TUPE transfer

Hare Wines Ltd v Kaur

A recent case demonstrates how careful employers must be to avoid dismissing an employee under the cover of a TUPE transfer. Mrs Kaur had worked for H&W Wholesale for ten years. Following its decision to cease trading, the business and employees were transferred to Hare Wines Ltd, the latter under TUPE. On the day of the TUPE transfer, Mrs Kaur was informed by H&W that her employment was being terminated because it was ceasing to trade. Mrs Kaur claimed against both companies for redundancy and notice pay but subsequently amended her claim to unfair dismissal by reason of TUPE transfer. It transpired that H&W believed that Mrs Kaur did not want to transfer to Hare Wines because she had a difficult working relationship with a Mr Chatha who was due to be promoted to a director of Hare Wines. In fact, Mrs Kaur thought that she had been dismissed because she didn’t get on with Mr Chatha and was not wanted in the new company. The Employment Tribunal upheld Mrs Kaur’s claim that she had been dismissed because of the transfer. At appeal, Hare Wines argued that Mrs Kaur had been dismissed for personal reasons (ie the difficult working relationship). The Court of Appeal agreed with the EAT, stating that all the evidence pointed to Mrs Kaur being dismissed as a result of the transfer for ‘reasons personal to the claimant’ – which is not a category recognised by TUPE. Employers must take care not to fall into the trap of inadvertently making a transfer-related dismissal. Generally speaking a fair dismissal would only be upheld if the main reason was economic, technical or organisational requiring a change in the workforce.

About the author

Tina Chander

Partner - Head of Employment Law

Tina is head of our employment law team. She deals with contentious and non-contentious employment law issues.

Tina Chander

Tina is head of our employment law team. She deals with contentious and non-contentious employment law issues.

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