125: And finally a look forward to what’s happening in employment news for November 2018
Since the abolition of fees in the Employment Tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in July 2017, the number of claims submitted has risen by 100%. HM Courts and Tribunals Service has written to Tribunal User Groups to explain how this increased workload is being addressed. Capacity will increase in 2019 with the recruitment of new judges, non-legal members, and administrative staff, as well as centralised judgment uploading and the introduction of paperless hearings in certain centres.
The Home Office has launched an independent review of the Modern Slavery Act. This will assess how the Act is operating in practice; how effective it is; and whether the current legal framework is fit for purpose, taking into account any significant political, economic, social and technological changes since the Act was passed in 2015. Particular issues for consideration will include how to ensure compliance and improve the quality of modern slavery statements; legal remedies for victims; and ‘future-proofing’ the Act. The review will gather evidence from relevant stakeholders and is due to present its report to the Home Secretary before the end of March 2019.
The Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee has launched an inquiry into the enforcement of the Equality Act 2010. This follows a number of inquiries by the Committee on specific issues, including pregnancy and maternity discrimination, workplace dress codes and sexual harassment, which revealed problems with the enforcement of Equality Act rights. The Committee is collecting evidence on the public’s understanding of enforcement; the effectiveness of remedies and penalties; the effectiveness and accessibility of Tribunals, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), and other enforcement mechanisms; and potential improvements. Previous recommendations made by the Women and Equalities Committee include longer time limits for pregnancy discrimination and sexual harassment claims, increased financial penalties, and increased intervention by the EHRC and other regulators.
Since the introduction of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018, the Information Commissioner’s Office has seen a 160% increase in complaints about potential data breaches. This includes complaints from individuals alleging that their personal data was shared without permission, as well as companies self-reporting incidents where data was accessed. Over 25% of the complaints relate to organisations which hold sensitive information in areas such as financial services, local government, education and health. Under the GDPR, there are two levels of fines for data breaches, depending on the extent of the infringement: up to 10 million Euros or 2% of global annual turnover, whichever is higher; or up to 20 million Euros or 4% of global annual turnover, whichever is higher.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the High Pay Centre have published a report on CEO remuneration within FTSE 100 companies, covering salaries, bonuses, long term incentive plans and benefits. Since publication of the previous report in 2017, average CEO pay has increased by 23% and median pay by 11%, due largely to strong stock market performance. The new pay ratio reporting requirement, which comes into force from January 2019, will require companies to detail the pay differentials between the CEO and workers at each quartile of the pay distribution. The CIPD report recommends that employers publish an accompanying narrative, for example, on whether the company believes the median ratio is consistent with its wider policies on employee pay, reward and progression. It also recommends that regulators and professional associations issue improved guidance to help ensure consistency in the information provided, and that policy-makers and companies should consider whether the content of existing remuneration reports could be simplified to improve their value to stakeholders.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published a research report on measuring and reporting on disability and ethnicity pay gaps. This indicates that a lack of data collection on representation in the workforce acts as a barrier to the progression of ethnic minorities and disabled people. The research shows that although 77% of employers class workforce diversity as a priority, only 44% collect data on whether staff are disabled, 36% collect data on ethnicity, and 23% collect data on pay and progression as regards ethnic minority and disabled workers. Over half of employers stated that collecting this type of data would be too intrusive or onerous. The EHRC recommends extending the requirement for employers to report on the gender pay gap to include data on ethnicity and disability in recruitment, retention, and progression by April 2020.