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Employment Law - What to expect in 2017

View profile for Danielle Lister
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2017 looks set to be another busy year for Employment law.  The following are some of the main topics which will impact significantly on Employment law, and which we can expect to hear more about throughout the course of 2017:

Brexit: We can expect the Supreme Court’s judgement on whether an Act of Parliament is required to trigger Article 50, which is the Article that begins the Brexit process.  Whilst seemingly not a direct issue of Employment law, Brexit will undoubtedly have significant implications for Employment law in the UK over the coming years.  Teresa May has announced plans to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017, assuming that this is permitted, but there is still significant uncertainty about the UK’s plans and intentions regards any Brexit deal and what the terms and detail of our exit from the EU will actually look like.  This issue is likely to have a considerable impact on UK Employment law in 2017 and beyond. 

Employment Tribunal Fees: The issue of Employment Tribunal Fees is still firmly on the table for 2017.  Whilst the government is said to be concluding a post-implementation review of fees, this is significantly overdue and remains unpublished.  The latest indication given by the government as to a publication date was that this will be published “in due course”, leaving considerable uncertainty as to when this is likely to happen.  In addition, the ongoing case of R (UNISON) v Lord Chancellor, in which UNISON challenge the Employment Tribunal fee regime on the grounds that it is discriminatory and obstructs access to justice, is scheduled to be heard in the Supreme Court in  March 2017.

Gender pay gap reporting: This is a key development in 2017, as the trigger date for employers to capture their first set of gender pay gap data commences in April 2107.  Large private and voluntary sector employers will not be required to produce their reports until April 2018, but the requirement to capture data as of April this year is a significant change for those employers effected and is part of the government’s initiative to attempt to close the pay gap between men and women in the UK. 

The gig economy: This relatively new phenomenon will continue to be an increasingly popular issue in Employment law in 2017.  Modern businesses with new operating and employment models, such as Uber and Deliveroo, have contributed to the debate around this topic.  From an Employment law perspective, the debate centres on worker’s employment status and protection of employment rights when work is undertaken in a flexible and ad-hoc manner, often being described as ‘self-employed’ but with many of the hallmarks of employment status.  Currently, there are three government and independent reviews underway looking at the changing nature of the workplace and how employment rights can be protected.  The issue of employment status will also be examined further in January 2017 in the forthcoming case of Pimlico Plumbers Limited v Smith.

Key Cases: In addition to the cases already mentioned, there are a number of cases to look out for in 2017.  Here are just a few:

  • Achbita v G4S Secure Solutions NV and Bougnaoui v Micropole Univers – Judgements are expected on both cases after differing Advocate Generals’ opinions have been given on whether it amounts to direct discrimination on the grounds of religious belief for an employer to ban the wearing of a Muslin headscarf in the workplace.

 

  • Harrod v Chief Constable of West Midlands Police and others - The Court of Appeal is scheduled in January 2017 to hear whether the requirement for police officers to retire compulsorily can be objectively justified and therefore should not be considered indirectly discriminatory on the grounds of age.

     

  • Donelien v Liberata UK Ltd – This case will consider the position where an employer took reasonable steps to determine whether an employee was considered disabled under the Equality Act 2010, but not every step possible.  In particular, the court will decide whether the employer in question did enough to avoid having constructive knowledge of a disability in relation to a disability discrimination claim.

     

  • The Sash Window Workshop Ltd and another v King – This is another holiday pay case following a steady stream of cases relating to holiday and holiday pay in employment.  In this particular case, the ECJ will decide whether workers are entitled to carry holiday over to the next year where they are unable to take their holiday for reasons beyond their control.

For further information on any of the above issues, or to discuss any Employment law concerns, contact the Chattertons Employment Law team.

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