The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
The GDPR will be one of the challenges facing employers in 2018 as they will be required to comply with new rules governing the processing of personal data from 25 May 2018. The new rules will build upon current privacy regimes including the Data Protection Act 1998 and aims to strengthen an individual’s rights with regard to their personal data. Whilst many of the GDPR’s main concepts are the same as the existing Data Protection Act, there are new elements and significant enhancements, so there will be new principles that businesses will have to grapple with for the first time.
Any business found to be in breach could face significant fines of up to €20m or 4% of the organisation’s global annual turnover, whichever is higher – a significant increase on the current maximum of £500,000 for a data breach.
The UK government intends to replace the Data Protection Act 1998 with a new Data Protection Act, currently being debated in Parliament.
Following our well-attended GDPR Business Briefings last year, we are running follow-up GDPR Business Briefings on 20 February at Lancaster House Hotel and 22 February at Rheged, where we will explore the latest guidance from the Information Commissioner’s office and discuss what businesses should be doing to get ready. Click here for more information.
The gig economy
The employment status and rights of those working in the gig economy will continue to dominate the news throughout 2018. Employers will likely see an increase in cases on employment status. In February, ongoing landmark cases such as Pimlico Plumbers Ltd v Smith will be examined by the Supreme Court.
In November, we also have seen the hot topics of holiday pay and the gig economy come together in King v The Sash Window Workshop Ltd, as the Court of Justice of the European Union gave its ruling that a worker who is not permitted to take their annual leave (even where it is wrongly believed they are self-employed contractors) must be permitted to carry over, accumulate and on termination claim a payment in lieu of their European holiday entitlement going back to 1996, when the European Working Time Directive was introduced.
If your business has relationships with ‘self-employed’ contractors who provide services to the business on a regular basis, it may be worthwhile reviewing the arrangements that are in place and also conducting an audit of all persons providing services to your business who are not employees to ensure that appropriate contractual arrangements are in place.
Gender pay gap reporting
The first gender pay gap reports for large private and voluntary sector employers (those with 250 employees or more) are due by 4 April 2018. Large public sector employers must report by 30 March 2018. Employers should have captured their first set of gender pay gap data in April 2017.
In July, the Supreme Court found that the Government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced employment tribunal fees. The Government promised to reimburse all tribunal fees if it was found to have acted unlawfully. The Government is therefore facing a bill of approximately £32million to repay fees.
This was a significant decision which has already led to more Employment Tribunal claims and this upward trend is likely to continue into 2018.
It is difficult to predict exactly how the UK’s employment laws will be affected by Brexit in the long term; however, employers are unlikely to have to deal with an avalanche of changes immediately. The Government has triggered Article 50 that gives 2 years’ notice of the intention to leave the EU and withdrawal agreements are now being drafted. This will allow time to determine what laws will stay and what will go. It is likely that the Government will take a piecemeal approach to introducing any changes.
The current aims of the UK government and the EU institutions could change during the course of 2018. There will be a continuation of negotiations on withdrawal issues, including those not yet addressed in the first phase of negotiations. Article 50 negotiations are expected to conclude by October 2018.
This alert does not provide a full statement of the law and readers are advised to take legal advice before taking any action based on the information set out above. If you would like specific advice in relation to any employment law or HR related issues please contact Joanne Holborn, Tom Scaife or Caroline Rayner on 01228 552600 or 01524 548494.