Over the coming year, the range of changes to employment law and policy highlighted in our legislation timetable will affect your organisation. To take advantage of the opportunities they offer, and to mitigate against any risks they may pose, speak to our employment team early on.

To keep up to date with policy discussion as it progresses, bookmark our Employment Blog and follow the employment team on Twitter.

Topic Summary Timing
Zero hours contracts Exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts have been unenforceable since May 2015.

Zero hours employees will have the right not to be unfairly dismissed, and zero hours employees and workers the right not to be subjected to a detriment, for failing to comply with an exclusivity clause.
11 January 2016
New regulatory framework for individuals in the financial services sector The current approved persons' regime will be replaced with a new system, with significant changes to the way individuals working in financial sector firms are regulated.

Please get in touch for more details on the senior managers' regime; certification regime; and new conduct rules.
7 March 2016
Regulatory references in the financial services sector The new FCA and PRA rules include a requirement to ask for regulatory references for senior managers, certified persons, and notified non-executive directors; for references to go back six years; a standard format for disclosures; and an obligation to update references if new information comes to light. 7 March 2016
National living wage There will be a premium, over and above the National Minimum Wage for workers aged 25 and over, known as the National Living Wage. The first premium will be 50p, which will increase the minimum hourly rate for these workers to £7.20. 1 April 2016
National minimum wage The maximum financial penalty for employers who underpay the National Minimum Wage is increasing from 100% to 200% of the underpayment due to each worker. 1 April 2016
Scottish rate of income tax Scottish taxpayer status and the Scottish Rate of Income Tax are being introduced in April 2016. It will apply to those living in Scotland who will pay the same overall rate as those living in the rest of the UK. 6 April 2016
Statutory pay There is no proposal to increase the statutory rates this year. Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay will therefore remain at £139.58 per week. Statutory sick pay will still be £88.45 per week. 6 April 2016
Cap on public sector exit payments There will be a new cap of £95,000 on the total aggregate value of most exit payments made to public sector workers. Expected April 2016
Repayment of public sector exit payments Public sector workers earning over £80,000 will need to repay specified exit payments if they are re-employed in any qualifying part of the public sector within 12 months. The amount to be repaid will vary depending on the length of the break. Expected April 2016
Mandatory gender pay gap reporting Employers (in both the public and private sectors) with 250 or more employees will need to publish information showing differences in pay between men and women. Detail of what will need to be published, and how, will be in the Regulations. Regulations expected spring 2016
Modern Slavery Act Commercial organisations with a turnover above £36 million must publish an annual statement detailing the steps taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in any part of its business or supply chain. Businesses with a year-end of 31 March 2016 or later must publish a statement
Whistleblowing in the financial services sector

The new FCA and PRA policy statements on whistleblowing in banks, building societies, credit unions, PRA-designated investment firms and insurers require relevant firms to:
Put in place internal whistleblowing arrangements and tell their employees about them;
Make it clear in settlement agreements that nothing prevents an employee from making a protected disclosure;
Appoint a senior manager as their whistleblowers' champion (from 7 March 2016);
Present a report on whistleblowing to the board at least annually.

7 September 2016
Scottish Parliament power over employment tribunals Power for the administration and management of employment tribunals is to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament. This could give the Scottish Parliament power to change tribunal funding or abolish tribunal fees altogether. The Bill is progressing through the UK Parliament
Strikes and Industrial Action

The UK government's Trade Union Bill includes proposals for:
New ballot thresholds for industrial action;
New rules on the information that unions must include in ballot papers;
14 days' notice of industrial action to be given to employers (increased from 7 days);
Time limits on ballots, so that a new ballot would be needed after four months;
Change to the law on political donations by trade unions.

Also, the government has consulted on 'tackling intimidation of non-striking workers in relation to picketing'; ballot thresholds for strikes in important public services; and removing the prohibition on employers hiring agency staff during industrial action.

The Bill is progressing through the UK Parliament
The Scottish government has requested that Scotland be excluded from the changes

Immigration Bill

The Immigration Bill proposes:
Extending the existing criminal offence of knowingly employing an illegal migrant to apply where an employer has 'reasonable cause to believe' that a person is an illegal worker.
Requiring public authorities to ensure that public sector workers in customer-facing roles speak fluent English.

The Bill is progressing through the UK Parliament
Scottish public bodies: diversity The Scottish government published a consultation in October 2015 on improving the diversity of board appointments to public authorities and lowering the employee threshold for publishing gender pay gap information and equal pay statements from 150 to 20. Expected in 2016
Recruitment agencies The government consulted on (1) the regulation of employment agencies and employment businesses; and (2) banning recruitment agencies from recruiting work-seekers solely from overseas EEA countries without advertising to domestic work-seekers. Response expected February 2016
Tax-free childcare A new tax-free childcare scheme will be introduced. Eligible working families will be able to claim 20% of qualifying childcare costs for children under 5 (and children with disabilities under 17). Early 2017
Apprenticeship levy An apprenticeship levy will be due by employers across all sectors in the UK at 0.5% of pay bill. All employers will receive an annual allowance of £15,000 against the levy, meaning that fewer than 2% of employers will actually pay any levy. April 2017
European Union referendum There is to be an 'in-out' referendum on EU membership by the end of 2017. A vote to come out of the EU could have significant implications for employment law. By end 2017
Grandparent leave The government intends to extend shared parental leave and pay to working grandparents. By 2018
Human rights The government intends to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights. A consultation on the proposals has been delayed. Not yet known
Penalties for non-payment of tribunal awards The government may introduce financial penalties for employers who do not pay employment tribunal awards or sums due under a COT3. Not yet known
Tribunal postponements

The government intends that:
A party will generally only be able to apply for a maximum of two postponements in an employment tribunal case;
If a request for postponement is made less than seven days before a hearing, or at the hearing, it will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. Costs may be awarded.

Not yet known
Volunteering leave The government is proposing to introduce a new right to up to three paid days off per year to carry out voluntary work. The right would apply to public sector employees and those working in companies with more than 250 employees. Not yet known
Taxation of termination payments

The government has consulted on simplifying the tax and national insurance treatment of termination payments. The proposals include:
Removing the current distinction between different types of payment;
Aligning the income tax and NICs treatment of termination payments, so that any amount subject to income tax is also subject to NICs.
Replacing the flat £30,000 exemption with one that only applies in cases of genuine redundancy; only kicks in when an employee has two years' continuous service; and increases proportionately with length of service (up to a maximum);
Introducing new exemptions for payments in connection with wrongful or unfair dismissal; and for tribunal awards made as compensation for discrimination.

Not yet known
Consultation closed in October 2015

Collective redundancy and insolvency On 20 November 2015, the Insolvency Service published the responses to the call for evidence on the Collective Redundancy Consultation for Employers facing Insolvency. The responses highlight the conflicts between employment and insolvency law. Not yet known
Rapid resolution scheme The government has previously indicated that it plans to introduce a 'rapid resolution scheme' for low value claims in employment tribunals. There have been no recent developments and it is unclear whether this will proceed. Not yet known
Reform of public sector employment The government has announced plans to review sickness absence in public sector workforces, followed by a consultation on how best to reduce its impact on public service delivery, considering legislation where necessary. Not yet known
Sickness absence / disabled workers The government announced in the Autumn statement that it wants to improve links between health services and employment support to help employees return to work quicker. It intends to expand the Fit for Work Service and to publish a White Paper in 2016 setting out reforms. Not yet known
Annual leave and sickness absence The government consulted in 2011 on amending the Working Time Regulations 1998 to reflect European case law permitting unused leave to be carried forward to the next leave year if it has not been used due to sickness absence / family leave. The government also proposed allowing employers to 'buy out' 1.6 weeks' annual leave, or require employees to carry it forward if there is a genuine business need. The government does not appear to be taking these proposals forward just now