The key changes in Employment Law taking place in 2018
Fit for Work Scheme Ends
The government announced the scrapping of the ‘Fit for work’ assessment scheme in December 2017.
Launched three years previously, the scheme consisted of a free information service – providing advice on health, work, and managing sickness absence – and a free occupational health assessment service for employees who had reached, or were likely to reach, four weeks of sickness absence. Most referrals were expected to be made by GPs, but employers were also able to refer employees off sick for more than four weeks.
Employers, employees and GPs will still be able to use the ‘Fit for work’ helpline, website and web chat service, but the assessment service will close in England and Wales on 31 March 2018, and in Scotland on 31 May 2018.
Changes to the National Living Wage
From 1 April 2018:
Workers aged 25 and over: £7.83 an hour (National Living Wage)
Workers aged 21 and over: £7.38 an hour
Development rate for workers aged 18-20: £5.90 an hour
Young workers rate for workers aged 16-17: £4.20 an hour
Apprentice rate: £3.70 an hour
Gender Pay Gap: First reports required
Private and voluntary sector employers with at least 250 employees will be required to publish information about the differences in pay between men and women in their workforce, based on a pay bill ‘snapshot’ date of 5 April 2017, under the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017. The first reports must be published by 4 April 2018.
Similar reporting requirements apply to larger public sector employers from 31 March 2017 and the first reports are due by 30 March 2018. For more information see our Guide to gender pay gap reporting.
Family Friendly Payments and Statutory Sick Pay
Statutory maternity (SMP), paternity (SPP), adoption (SAP) and shared parental pay (ShPP) will rise from
£140.98 to £145.18 a week from April. Usually the rate increase would be from 1 April, but the statement to Parliament announcing the new figures suggests the date this year may be Monday 9 April 2018.
Statutory sick pay (SSP) is due to rise this month from £89.35 to £92.05.
The lower earnings limit will rise from £113 to £116.
The government has confirmed it will be implementing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which applies to all EU Member States from 25 May 2018, even though the UK is leaving the EU
Changes to the General Data Protection Rules
The new rules give individuals:
- easier access to their own data
- a ‘right to be forgotten’
- a right to know when their data has been hacked
Organisations will benefit from having:
- a single set of data protection rules across the EU and
- one supervisory authority, rather than the current 28. Notifications to supervisory bodies are also being scrapped. But companies may be required to:
- pay a fine of up to 4% of global turnover if they breach the new rules
- appoint a data protection officer in certain circumstances
- Exemptions apply for SMEs for whom data processing is not a core business activity, and these employers may also charge a data access fee where requests are ‘manifestly unfounded’ or ‘excessive.’