Equal Pay Legislation

Just after the start of 2016, early indications suggest a mix of promoting equality and restricting it. On the plus side, bureaucratic as it may be for employers, the pay gap including bonus payments between genders will have to be reported by employers of more than 250 from some time in 2016. There would be no need for this if they had abided by equal pay legislation which has been in force for many a long year, so my sympathy is limited! The national living wage of £7.20 will have to be paid to all employees over the age of 25 from 1 April. After much debate about the pros and cons of zero hours contracts (they are not all bad), employers will longer be able to use exclusivity clauses, where they can prevent a worker taking up work elsewhere when they have themselves cannot provide work – and workers now have the right to redress if they are subjected to them. Exit payments to public sector staff will be capped at £95,000 in these straitened times, and anyone paid over £100,000 will be required to repay such payments if they return to work in the same sector within 12 months of leaving it. Entirely appropriate for these times of slashed public spending, in my view. Planned legislation tightening up on the employment of non EU immigrants may provoke mixed feelings: in essence, workers themselves can now be prosecuted for illegal working, employers will have to pay for employing non EU workers, and all public-facing employees will have to speak English fluently – a test which could be usefully applied to some British/EU public-facing employees now, in my experience! On the other side of the balance sheet, Trades Union activity is being restricted in terms of strike action: higher voting percentages, particularly in the public sector, shorter intervals after any ballot and an increase required notice period to employers. More routinely, and not surprisingly, there is to be no increase in rates of SSP or maternity, paternity or shared parental leave rates in 2016.

Charlotte Obolensky HR
February 2016

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