Black Mountain quarterly newsletter - September 2017 (UK)
THE GENERAL DATA PROTECTION REGULATION (GDPR)
Although the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) does not come into force until May 2018, the scope of the changes under the new Regulation means that preparing for the GDPR will be high priority for employers in 2017.
Employers will need to carry out audits of employee personal data that they collect and process to ensure that it meets GDPR conditions for employee consent.
New governance and record-keeping requirements mean that employers will also have to create or amend policies and processes on privacy notices, data breach responses and subject access requests.
As the GDPR will come into effect before the UK exits the EU, organisations that are not compliant by May 2018 risk fines of up to 4% of annual turnover.
Detailed guidance is expected to be published by the Government soon.
WILL BREXIT IMPACT ON UK EMPLOYMENT LEGISLATION?
There is some uncertainty amongst employers about the impact that Brexit will have on UK employment legislation and practices. This is because a significant proportion of both the individual and collective rights that UK employees currently benefit from have arisen either directly or indirectly from EU Directives.
For individual rights, this includes legislation on working time, annual holiday entitlement, atypical working and a number of family friendly issues, such as maternity leave/pay and parental leave, as well as some anti-discrimination legislation. As far as collective rights are concerned, this includes legislation on information and consultation rights, European Works Councils, collective redundancies and transfers of undertakings.
So what will happen now that the Government has started Brexit negotiations with the other Member States? In the short term, almost certainly nothing will change. This is because, until the UK leaves the EU and ceases to be a Member State, all UK legislation implementing EU Directives remains in place. Only at the end of this period can the Government make changes without being in breach of EU legislation. Moreover, the Government has committed to maintain employee rights and the family friendly practices which have been implemented in recent years, so there is nothing to suggest significant or imminent change.
What happens in the long-term though will depend in part on the Brexit terms that the Government agrees with the other Member States, but also prevailing public and socio-economic opinion at the time.
We will continue to update you as decisions are made in this area.
TRIBUNAL COMPENSATION LIMITS
New limits on tribunal compensation awards have been implemented.
Guaranteed payments limit. £27
Week’s pay limit. £489
Maximum basic award for unfair dismissal £5,970
Maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal £80,541
Minimum compensation for exclusion/expulsion from a trade union
TRIBUNAL FEELS RULED ILLEGAL
In July 2017 the UK Supreme Court ruled that tribunal fees of up to £1,200 were unfair and an obstacle to justice. The Government has therefore been forced to take immediate action and stop charging tribunal fees, as well as starting the process of refunding those workers who had paid the fees since they were introduced in 2013.
CHANGES TO RULES FOR EMPLOYING FOREIGN WORKERS
Employers sponsoring foreign workers with a tier 2 visa are now required to pay an immigration skills charge of £1,000 per worker (£364 for small employers and charities). The immigration skills charge will be in addition to current fees for visa applications.
The minimum salary threshold for “experienced workers” applying for a tier 2 visa has also increased and is now £30,000. New entrants to the job market, and some health and education staff will be exempted from the salary threshold until 2019.
TRADE UNION BALLOTING CHANGES TO BE IMPLEMENTED
The Trade Union Act 2016 introduces changed the way that Trade Unions must ballot members over industrial action. It came into force in March 2017.
Key provisions are:
Under the rules, a successful vote for strike action will require a 50% minimum turnout and a majority vote in favour of industrial action.
Industrial action in important public services will require a strike vote of 40% of all eligible voters.
A minimum of 14 days advance notice of any strike is now required.
The Union must appoint a picket Supervisor.
Restrictions apply to the mandate for post-ballot industrial action.
In 2016 the Government announced provisional plans to extend shared parental leave and pay to grandparents by 2018. Grandparents would have to be working. But no further concrete announcements have been made yet.