Hot Topics for 2019

Happy New Year to all our readers!

As 2019 looks set to be a busy year for employment law, we look forward to what’s in store!


The Government’s ‘Brexit deal’ will be debated in the House of Commons from 09 January 2019 and a vote is expected on 15 January 2019.

Even in the event of a no deal exit from the European Union on 29 March 2019 it is unlikely there will be a dramatic change in employment laws, at least in the short term. However whether the UK can depart from current EU requirements in the medium to long term will depend on the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Work Plan

Published on 17 December 2018, the Good Work Plan has been lauded as the biggest package of workplace reforms for over 20 years. It takes forward 51 out of 53 recommendations made by Matthew Taylor in his review of modern working practices.

It attempts to enhance the rights of workers identified as being vulnerable and lacking adequate job security, such as zero hour, agency and gig-economy workers. The headline points are:

  • The introduction of ‘a naming and shaming’ scheme for employers who fail to pay employment tribunal awards.
  • Extension of the time required to break a period of continuous service from one week to four weeks.
  • Increase of the maximum level of penalty an Employment Tribunal can impose in instances of aggravating conduct by employers from £5,000 to £20,000.
  • Giving all workers a right to request a more stable contract with a fixed working pattern after 26 weeks of working a non-fixed pattern.
  • Workers will have the right to be given a written statement of rights on their first day of employment and to be given information such as eligibility for sick leave and pay, as well as details of other types of paid leave.
  • Agency workers will be given the right to specific information such as the type of contract they are employed under, the minimum rate of pay, how they will be paid, if they will be paid by a third party company, any deductions that will be taken and an estimate of how this impacts their net pay.
  • Repeal of the Swedish Derogation which currently allows agency workers to be employed on cheaper rates than permanent counterparts.
  • Extension of the holiday pay reference period from 12 weeks to 52 weeks to cover atypical workers.

Impact of Autumn 2018 Budget 

From 06 April 2019 both the National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates will increase. The minimum hourly rate for workers over 25 will increase from £7.83 to £8.21, for workers between 21-24 the hourly rate will increase from £7.38 to £7.70, for workers between 18 -20 the hourly rate will increase from £5.90 to £6.15, and for those over compulsory school age who have not yet turned 18 the hourly rate will increase from £4.20 – £4.35. The minimum hourly rate for apprentices will increase for £3.70 – £3.90 if the apprentice is under 19, or if 19 or over but in the first year of their apprenticeship.

Supermarket equal pay claims

We are expected to receive decisions on separate tribunal cases on equal pay claims which involve Tesco, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsburys.  Predominantly female shop workers feel they are unfairly paid less than predominately male warehouse staff, despite carrying out a similar role. This will provide more clarity on the issue of equal pay and, depending on the result, may pave the way for further claims from staff working in other sectors

CEO pay gap reporting

Under The Companies (Miscellaneous Reporting) Regulations 2018, which will come into force in 2019, companies with more than 250 employees will be required to publish their executive pay gap. Companies will be under a duty to calculate the figures throughout 2019 to show the gap between the total amount paid to their CEO and the average pay for an employee. The first reports are expected in 2020.

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.

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