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In the Pipeline - September 2021

In the Pipeline - September 2021

Overview

A guide to future employment and immigration law.

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Employment

Legislation

  • Gender Pay Gap Reporting

    5 October 2021

    • Employers with 250 or more employees are required to publish their gender pay gap report for the period 5 April 2019 to 4 April 2020. (The requirement to report for 2018/2019 in April 2020 was suspended due to the pandemic.)

    • The deadline for reporting for 2019/20 was originally 4 April 2021 but this was delayed to 5 October 2021, although employers are encouraged to report earlier if possible.
  • Data Protection

    21 October 2021

    The Information Commissioner is updating its guidance on data protection and employment practices and is seeking views on what should be included in the revised guidance, through a survey which is open until 21 October 2021.

  • Kickstart Scheme

    November 2020 to December 2021

    • The Government has created a scheme to fund six month job placements for young people (aged 16 to 24) who are on universal credit and at risk of long term unemployment.

    • Employers may apply for funding to pay the national minimum wage for up to 25 hours per week, as well as £1,500 for training and set up costs, provided they, either alone or in conjunction with another employer (or other employers), offer at least 30 placements. Placements can start at any time up to the end of December 2021.
  • Flexible working

    1 December 2021

    • The Government has published a consultation on making the right to request flexible working available from the start of employment (currently only employees with at least six months' service have the right to request flexible working). The consultation also considers whether the reasons for refusing a flexible working request should be revised, and whether employees should be able to make a request more than once every 12 months. 

    • The consultation closes on 1 December 2021.
  • Financial Services Regulation

    1 January 2022

    Under the new Investment Firms Prudential Regime (IFPR) firms will be required to introduce rules relating to pay for employees who are "material risk takers", including the ability to apply malus or clawback to bonuses in certain circumstances.

  • Statutory Sick Pay

    April 2022

    The rate of statutory sick pay increases every April. The current rate is £96.35 per week.

  • Statutory Maternity, Paternity, Adoption, and Shared Parental Pay

    April 2022

    The rates of statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay increase every April. The current rate is £151.97 per week.

  • National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage

    April 2022

    • The hourly rates of the national living wage and the national minimum wage increase in April each year. The new hourly rates from 1 April 2022 will be:

      • £9.50 (rising from £8.91) for workers aged 23 or over
      • £9.18 (rising from £8.36) for workers aged 21 to 22
      • £6.83 (rising from £6.56) for workers aged 18 to 20
      • £4.81 (rising from £4.62) for workers aged under 18
      • £4.81 (rising from £4.30) for apprentices). 
  • Unfair Dismissal and Statutory Redundancy Pay

    April 2022

    • The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal increases every April. The current maximum award is the lower of £89,943 and a year's pay.

    • The maximum amount of a week's pay for calculating the unfair dismissal basic award and statutory redundancy pay increases every April.  The current maximum amount is £544. 
  • Employment Status

    No date

    • Following the publication of the Independent Review of Employment Practices in the Modern Economy (known as the Taylor Review) in 2017, the Government published the Good Work Plan in 2018, setting out a number of reforms aimed at improving the position of workers including:
      • a right for zero-hours workers to request a more stable contract
      • refining the employment status test and developing an online employment status tool
      • making it easier for casual workers to establish continuity of employment (by increasing the gap required between contracts for breaking continuity from one week to four weeks).

    • The Government has consulted on specific measures to improve protection for zero hours workers including proposals for compensation for cancelled shifts, minimum notice of working hours and the right to move onto a fixed hours contract.

    • The Government has also consulted on extending the ban on exclusivity clauses in employment contracts (which currently only applies in relation to zero hours contracts) to low-paid workers (those earning under £120 per week), so that they could not be prevented from seeking work elsewhere.

    • The Government has not given a date for when the above changes are likely to be introduced.
  • Restrictive Covenants

    No date

    The Government is consulting on proposed changes to non-compete covenants. There are two options under consideration: (i) requiring that the employer pays part of the employee's salary during a non-compete period or (ii) banning non-compete covenants altogether. The consultation closed on 26 February 2021 and the Government's response is awaited.

  • Changing terms

    No date

    In 2020, the Government asked Acas to investigate the practice of using "fire and rehire" to change employees' terms and Acas published its report in June 2021. Fire and rehire involves terminating an employee's employment and offering employment on the new terms to start immediately, and this practice has recently been subject to some criticism. The Government has stated that it will work with Acas to produce clearer guidance for employers on changing terms.  

  • Sexual Harassment

    No date

    • In spring 2018, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published a report, Turning the tables: ending sexual harassment at work, which made a number of recommendations to strengthen the protection for victims of sexual harassment.

    • The Government has committed to develop a statutory code of practice on sexual harassment and in 2019 consulted on further measures to address sexual harassment at work.

    • In July 2021 the Government responded to the sexual harassment consultation and confirmed that it will introduce a new duty for employers to prevent sexual harassment and third party harassment in the workplace and will consider extending the time limit for claims from three to six months.  These changes will be subject to further consultation on the detail.
  • Discrimination

    No date

    • In July 2021 the Women and Equalities Committee launched an inquiry into current legislation and workplace practices in relation to the menopause, to seek views on whether employers should be required to put in place a workplace menopause policy. The inquiry closes on 17 September 2021.

    • In July 2021 the Government published a National Disability Strategy aimed at improving the lives of disabled people, in which it states that it will consult (by the end of 2021) on proposals for workforce disability reporting by employers.
  • Diversity Reporting

    No date

    • In August 2018, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published a report on disability and ethnicity pay gaps and progression. The EHRC plans to produce guidance for employers on collecting, using and reporting data on employee ethnicity and disability.

    • The Government has also consulted on ethnicity pay gap reporting and this is likely to be introduced in the future although no date has been given.
  • Settlement and Confidentiality

    No date

    • In 2019, the Government consulted on the use of confidentiality provisions in settlement agreements in discrimination and harassment cases. The Government has responded to this consultation and stated that it will legislate to:
      • ensure that settlement agreements will not prevent disclosures to the police or healthcare or legal professionals
      • require confidentiality clauses in employment contracts and settlement agreements to set out their limitations clearly
      • require individuals to take legal advice on the confidentiality provisions in a settlement agreement.
  • Redundancy and Pregnancy/Maternity Leave

    No date

    • Employees who are made redundant during maternity leave must be offered a suitable alternative vacancy if there is one.

    • Following a consultation in 2019, the Government confirmed that it will extend this redundancy protection so that it begins when the employee notifies the employer of the pregnancy and ends six months after the end of the maternity leave. The equivalent redundancy protection for adoption leave will be extended until six months following the end of adoption leave, and similar extensions will apply in relation to shared parental leave.
  • Maternity/Adoption/ Shared Parental and Parental Leave

    No date

    • The Government has consulted on measures to support working families including:
      • how to improve paternity and shared parental leave and pay, including the possibility of dedicated "pots" of leave for each parent
      • requiring employers with 250 or more employees to publish their family related leave and pay policies on their website.

    • The Government's response to the consultation is awaited.
  • Neonatal leave and pay

    No date

    The Government is to introduce a new entitlement to up to 12 weeks' neonatal leave and pay for parents of premature babies. No date has yet been given for when this will come into effect.  

  • Carers' leave

    No date

    • The Government consulted in 2020 on a new form of unpaid statutory leave for employees with unpaid caring responsibilities, such as care of an elderly relative.

    • The Government has published its response to the consultation which confirms that it will introduce a new right for carers to take unpaid leave of one week per year, to help manage their caring responsibilities. There is no date yet for when this will come into effect. 
  • Listed companies

    No date

    The Government has consulted on audit and corporate governance reforms for listed companies and larger private companies which include new directors' duties relating to risk management, and proposals to claw-back directors bonuses if the company collapses or there are serious director failings within two years of the bonus payment. The consultation closed in July 2021.

  • Enforcement of employment rights

    No date

    The Government has announced that it will create a single enforcement body for employment rights which will enforce national minimum wage, labour exploitation and modern slavery, holiday pay for vulnerable workers and statutory sick pay. The timing for this change has not been specified.   

Immigration

  • Use of EEA or Swiss national ID cards to be phased out

    1 October 2021

    EEA or Swiss national ID cards will no longer be valid for entry to the UK from 1 October 2021 and a passport will be required unless certain exceptions apply.

  • Entry requirements for business visitors

    6 October 2021

    • Business visitors from outside the UK and Ireland (including EU and Swiss nationals) are required to qualify for entry under the visitor rules, with activities subject to strict limits, including a prohibition on undertaking productive work.

    • Confirmation of the purpose, duration as well as funds and accommodation available for business trips may be checked at UK border control.

    • Changes to the UK business visitor rules from 6 October aims to provide clarity on when employees of overseas manufacturers or suppliers can come to the UK as visitors, to install, maintain, service or advise on equipment, software or hardware, without the requirement for a work visa. Our interactive map shows the rules which apply in different European countries.
  • Expansion of Youth Mobility Scheme visa route

    11 October 2021

    • The Youth Mobility Scheme visa route allows 18 to 30 year olds to come to the UK to work in any role for a two-year duration.

    • From 11 October, the route will cover eligible applicants from Iceland and India, in addition to Australia, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

    • Applicants from India must hold a degree level qualification or have a minimum of three years' work experience in a skilled role.
  • Changes to the Global Talent route

    October 2021 onwards

    • The Global Talent route is aimed at individuals with exceptional talent or exceptional promise who can apply for work visas in the UK without needing a job offer or employer sponsorship. Instead, applications are supported by an endorsement by a designated competent body (e.g. Tech Nation, UK Research and Innovation, Royal Academy of Engineering) as a recognised or emerging leader or under the UK Research and Innovation endorsed funder option.

    • The Global Talent visa reforms will allow for automatic qualification (without the requirement for an endorsement) for holders of international prizes, individuals who win scholarships as well as those on programmes for early promise. 
  • End of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Concessions to UK visa applicants and visa holders

    Late 2021 onwards

    • Various concessions were introduced to assist UK visa holders and visa applicants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic including the 'exceptional assurance' for individuals who were not able to leave the UK prior to their visa expiry date.

    • Some of these concessions will be coming to an end in a phased way, starting from 30 September 2021 onwards.
  • Immigration sponsorship reforms

    Late 2021 onwards

    • Following Brexit, European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens (referred to here as "EU nationals"), and their family members who were not resident in the UK prior to 31 December 2020 are now subject to UK immigration controls in the same way as non-EU nationals.

    • A new points-based immigration system was introduced in December 2020, which extended to cover EU nationals who arrive in the UK after 1 January 2021. Employer sponsorship under the Skilled Worker and Intra Company Transfer visa categories are key routes for work visas under the new regime.

    • The Government has set out its plan to make changes to the sponsorship system in its sponsorship roadmap policy paper published in August 2021.

    • The planned changes include increasing processing speed for sponsor licence applications and enhancing immigration sponsorship compliance systems.
  • Introduction of new Elite points-based visa and new Global Business Mobility visa routes

    March 2022 onwards

    • A new 'elite points-based visa' route will be introduced which will include a “scale-up” stream for fast-track visas for individuals with a job offer from a recognised UK scale-up.

    • A new Global Business Mobility visa will be introduced by spring 2022 to allow overseas businesses to establish a presence or transfer staff to the UK.
  • Electronic Travel Authorisations and digital immigration system

    Ongoing – phased programme to 2025

    • EEA applicants granted status under the EU settlement scheme, Skilled Worker or Intra Company Transfer visa routes are issued digital status, rather than a physical passport endorsement or a residence permit.

    • Applicants must access their UK immigration status online and will be able to share limited access to this portal with prospective employers or landlords as evidence of their right to remain in the UK.

    • This is part of the streamlining and digitisation of the UK's visa system, with a move towards a digital immigration system.

    • UK visa applicants currently submit physical passports for endorsement as part of their visa application process, and in future, it is intended that visas will be issued electronically.

    • The Government plans to introduce a universal ‘permission to travel’ requirement which will require everyone wishing to travel to the UK (except British and Irish citizens) to seek permission in advance. An Electronic Travel Authorisations (similar to the US ESTA) system will be introduced for visitors.
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