UK: Diversity Developments – presentation of pay gap data, proposals on parental leave and dress code guidance

  • The Government Equalities Office has published the findings of a commissioned study (here) concluding that the clearest and most accessible way of presenting gender pay gap figures is to display them visually as coins or as the amount which women earn for every £1 men earn (rather than percentages). The latter approach has now been added to the data on the government’s pay gap website, which also now includes bar charts to show the gender split by pay quartile and displays an employer’s data all on one page. The study also found that benchmarking improved comprehension, so may lead to pressure on the government to add visual benchmarking to the published data in future.

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UK: no direct discrimination in failure to enhance shared parental leave pay to match maternity pay; indirect discrimination claim to be reheard

Many employers who enhance maternity pay have chosen not to mirror this for shared parental leave, pending clarity as to whether this could be direct or indirect sex discrimination. The EAT has now given its first rulings on the issue. In Capita v Ali, the EAT ruled that a failure to mirror enhanced maternity pay was not direct discrimination, at least where the enhancement is only for the first part of maternity leave (at least the first 14 weeks, possibly 26 weeks). In its view, the purpose of this part of maternity leave is to protect the health and wellbeing of the mother during pregnancy and following childbirth, and therefore this leave is not comparable to shared parental leave, the purpose of which is to care for the child. Continue reading

UK: April 2018 changes to statutory benefits, tribunal compensation, minimum wage

From 6 April 2018, the cap on the unfair dismissal compensatory award increases from £80,541 to £83,682 and the cap on weekly pay (used to calculate the unfair dismissal basic award and statutory redundancy pay) increases from £489 to £508. This gives a maximum unfair dismissal award of £98,922. Note that since 29 July 2013 there has been an additional cap on the compensatory award of 12 months’ pay.

The bands for injury to feelings awards have also been increased for claims presented on or after 6 April 2018;  the lowest band starts at £900, the middle band at £8,600, and the highest band starts at £25,700 with a cap of £42,900 (save in exceptional cases).

From 6 April 2018 the weekly rate of statutory sick pay increases to £92.05 per week (from £89.35) and from 1 April 2018 the weekly flat rate of statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay increases to £145.18 per week (from £140.98).

The national minimum wage rates increases from 1 April 2018. Workers of 25 years and older will be entitled to be paid a minimum national living wage of £7.83 per hour (increased from £7.50).

UK: tribunal rules that failure to enhance pay for shared parental leave is sex discrimination

A tribunal has ruled that an employer’s failure to enhance pay for shared parental leave (SPL) to the same level as enhanced maternity pay is direct sex discrimination.

Employers who enhance maternity pay but not shared parental pay should be aware of a first instance decision that, if upheld on appeal, could require them to change their approach.  The tribunal in Ali v Capita Customer Management Limited has upheld a father’s direct sex discrimination claim in relation to his employer’s refusal to pay him 12 weeks’ full pay during shared parental leave, when a mother taking maternity leave would have been entitled to 12 weeks’ full pay (in addition to 2 weeks’ fully paid compulsory maternity leave).

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UK: April 2017 changes – apprenticeship levy, tribunal compensation limits, national minimum wage, statutory benefits and immigration skills charge

From 6 April 2017 UK employers with an annual pay bill of or over £3 million will be required to pay an apprenticeship levy at a rate equivalent to 0.5% of their payroll costs, subject to an offset allowance of £15,000. Employers in England that pay the levy will be able to access funding through a digital service which is expected to open from 1 May 2017. Updated guidance is available here. The offence of wrongly advertising work as a statutory apprenticeship also came into force on 1 April 2017.

From 6 April 2017, the cap on the unfair dismissal compensatory award will increase from £78,962 to £80,541 and the cap on weekly pay (used to calculate the unfair dismissal basic award and statutory redundancy pay) will increase from £479 to £489. This gives a maximum unfair dismissal award of £95,211. Note that since 29 July 2013 there has been an additional cap on the compensatory award of 12 months’ pay.

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UK: Shared parental pay – care needed when handling grievances or changing policy on pay

Employers should have effective processes in place to handle any grievances challenging their parental leave pay policies.  If the policy is revised, transitional provisions should make clear whether the new policy applies to parents who have already given notice of intention to take shared parental leave under the old policy, but not yet requested or taken specific periods, or who subsequently give notice to vary the period(s).

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UK: Budget 2016 – key announcements for employment law

The 2016 Budget delivered by the Chancellor on 16 March includes the following:

  • From April 2018, the Government will tighten the scope of the income tax exemption for payments on termination of employment "to prevent manipulation" and will also align the rules so employer National Insurance contributions are due on those payments above £30,000 that are already subject to income tax. The first £30,000 of a termination payment will remain exempt from income tax and the full payment will be outside the scope of employee NICs. The Government will undertake a technical consultation on tightening the scope of the exemption.

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UK: Employment law changes in October

On 1 October 2015 the following changes came into force:

  • New national minimum wage rates, the adult rate increasing from £6.50 to £6.70 an hour.
  • Employment tribunals have lost their power to make wider recommendations for employers to take remedial action in successful discrimination claims; they can now only make recommendations that would benefit the particular claimant (and therefore not where the claimant has left the job).
  • Sikh workers now have the right to wear a turban instead of a safety helmet in most workplaces (subject to various exceptions).
     

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