Key legislation and case law developments of 2016


1. January – Zero tolerance for exclusivity clauses

From 11 January 2016, legislation gave workers on zero hours contracts the right to complain to an employment tribunal where they are dismissed or suffer a detriment for working for another employer or asking their employer for permission to do so.

2. February – Bonus Schemes

Case law has shown that the courts have become willing to find that bonus schemes expressed to be non-contractual may give rise to contractual rights. Employers need to exercise care when drafting bonus clauses and making decisions about whether bonuses are to be paid. We consider the position in our employment alert 19 February

3. March – Modern Slavery

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 includes a requirement for large businesses, with a turnover of £36 million or more, to publicly state each year the action they have taken to ensure that their business and supply chains are slavery free. The obligation to publish a slavery and human trafficking statement applies in each financial year ending on or after 31 March 2016.

4. April – New National Living Wage

The National Living Wage came into force on 1 April 2016 and applies to workers aged 25 and over. The current rate is £7.20.

5. May – It’s all kicking off

Employers should always treat employees in accordance with their contract of employment to avoid claims for breach of contract. We consider the up to date position in our employment alert 6 May

6. June – The Referendum

On 23 June 2016 the UK voted to leave the EU. The effect to employment law is likely to be limited. Although a significant proportion of UK employment law is derived from the EU, it is unlikely that there will be wholesale changes following Brexit. However, the government may take the opportunity to amend some areas to reduce regulatory burden on companies, including:

  • Amending or repealing the Agency Workers Regulations 2010.
  • Introducing a cap on compensation for discrimination similar to that for unfair dismissal.
  • Amending TUPE to make it more business friendly (for example, by making it easier to amend terms following a TUPE transfer).
  • Addressing the issue of whether employees accrue holiday while off sick.
  • Removing the cap on maximum weekly working hours.

The greatest practical implication for employers is the likely change to the right of freedom of movement following Brexit.

7. July – Pre-termination negotiations

The Employment Appeal Tribunal handed down the first decision on the protection offered by the legislation on  pre-termination negotiations. We considered the case in our employment alert 7 July

8. August – Holiday pay – voluntary overtime?

An employment tribunal found that voluntary overtime should, in some situations, be included in the calculation of holiday pay. See our employment alert on 26 August

9. September – First UK company order to pay compensation to victims of modern slavery

A UK company has been found to be civilly liable for victims of human trafficking and highlights the need for businesses which fall within the ambit of the Modern Slavery Act to take action to comply and ensure that modern slavery is not occurring in any of its supply chain. We considered the first case in our employment alert on 16 September

10. October – Taxi for Uber

An employment tribunal found that the Claimants in this case were workers, giving them the right to receive minimum wage, holidays and breaks. See our employment alert on 28 October

11. November – Rest breaks

The Employment Appeal Tribunal found that an employer has a duty to provide a worker with a rest break, regardless of whether it has been requested. We consider the case in our employment alert 18 November

12. December – The perils of the Christmas party!

Whilst Christmas should be a time of peace and goodwill, it can present challenges for employers, which remain the same every year, we consider these in our employment alert 2 December

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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