Although Brexit is set to dominate the year, we can expect to receive further detail about upcoming employment law reforms as detailed in the Good Work Plan, a number of legislative measures will be coming into force, and a number of interesting appeals will be heard by the courts.
Good Work Plan
The government’s Good Work Plan details commitments to enact several of the Taylor Review’s recommendations which have been designed to improve working conditions for various atypical workers including agency and zero-hour workers.
The measures include a right to request a more stable and predictable contract, an increase in the period required to break continuity of employment to four weeks, a ban on deductions from staff tips and reducing to a minimum the differences between the status tests in employment and tax law. The plan also proposes improvements in enforcement, including publishing the names of employers who fail to pay tribunal awards on time.
Currently many of these reforms do not have specific timescales but as the year progresses, we can expect to see draft legislation implementing aspects of the plan.
New legislative measures
In 2019 a variety of new corporate governance measures will begin to take effect, including the new requirement to publish the ratio between the CEO’s pay and the median pay in the wider workforce. This will take effect for financial years beginning on or after 1 January so we can expect the publication of these reports in 2020.
New legislation introducing a right for all workers to be provided with an itemised pay statement will come into force in April, and consultations on tribunal reform and ethnicity pay reporting are due to close at the start of the year. There may therefore be reports published on these issues later in the year.
There are expected developments in EU law including a new statutory code of practice on sexual harassment to be produced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and new Directives on whistleblowing and transparent working conditions for atypical workers. However, it is currently unclear how these will affect the UK in light of Brexit.
The Supreme Court will hear a case involving an employment restrictive covenant for the first time in over a century after the Court of Appeal held that a six-month non-compete restrictive covenant was invalid. We can also expect the legal battle over Uber drivers’ worker status to continue with the Supreme Court set to hear the appeal of the recent decision that Uber drivers are workers.
The Court of Appeal will consider several interesting cases this year, including whether an employer’s breach of the implied sex equality clause could constitute constructive dismissal and also whether the suspension of a teacher accused of having used unreasonable force against children constituted a repudiatory breach of contract. It will also hear the first case to directly address the issue of direct discrimination based on perceived disability under the Equality Act 2010.
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