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24 February 2020

223: And finally a look forward to what’s happening in employment news for March 2020

The Ministry of Justice has released its Employment Tribunal quarterly statistics for July to September 2019. These indicate that the number of claims is continuing to rise. Compared to the same period in 2018, single claim receipts, disposals and outstanding caseload all increased (by 38%, 4% and 40% respectively). For multiple claims, receipts decreased over the same period by 10%, while disposals and outstanding caseload increased by 77% and 7% respectively. During this quarter, 33% of disposals were dismissed after being withdrawn; 19% were settled through Acas; 17% were withdrawn, 13% were struck out; and 9% were successful at hearing. The most common jurisdictional complaint disposed of was unauthorised deductions from wages.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published a consultation asking for views on its draft guidance on subject access requests. Subject access, a fundamental right of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), allows individuals to find out what personal data is held about them and to obtain a copy of that data. The new draft guidance explains in greater detail than the current ICO guidance the rights that individuals have to access their personal data and the obligations on controllers. It contains advice on how to recognise a request, the special rules involving certain categories of personal data, how to deal with requests, manifestly unfounded requests, exemptions, special cases, dealing with information about third parties, and enforcement. The consultation also seeks views on the experiences of organisations in dealing with subject access requests since the GDPR came into force in May 2018. The consultation closes on 12 February 2020.

HMRC has amended its Employment Income Manual to include an updated formula for calculating Post-Employment Notice Pay (PENP) where employees are paid by equal monthly instalments. This is to correct unintended outcomes with the previous formula where an employee’s contract provides for payment periods in months, but they have a notice period expressed in weeks or days. In these circumstances, the previous formula for calculating PENP gave different results depending on when in the year notice was given. An alternative calculation, as set out in HMRC’s Manual, may now be used which removes the uncertainty created by the original drafting.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published a report, ‘Disability pay gaps in the UK: 2018’, which states that the disability pay gap in the UK is 12.2%, with a narrower gap for women (10.1%) than men (11.6%). The pay gap differed depending on the type of disability suffered. Workers with a mental impairment, including depression, anxiety and mental illness, suffered the largest pay gap of 18.6%. Workers with a physical impairment, such as problems with hearing or speech, suffered a pay gap of 9.7%. Workers with ‘other impairments’, including progressive illnesses such as cancer and HIV, had the smallest pay gap, at 7.4%. The ONS report suggests that around a quarter of the difference in mean pay could be accounted for by factors such as occupation and qualification, leaving three quarters of the gap unexplained. The widest disability pay gap was in London (15.3%) with the narrowest in Scotland (8.3%). As part of its national disability strategy, which includes reducing the disability pay gap, the government has announced that it will be introducing measures to encourage employers to retain workers with disabilities and long-term health conditions.

Reforms to the off payroll working rules are due to come into force in April 2020 to make medium and large organisations in the private and third sectors responsible for determining the tax status of their contractors. On 7 January 2020, the government announced a review of these proposed changes in order to address concerns about how they will be implemented. This review will be completed by mid-February 2020. Evidence from affected individuals and businesses will be used to determine whether improvements are required. This will include assessing whether any additional support is needed to ensure that self-employed contractors, who are out of scope of the rules, are not impacted. The government will also evaluate the enhanced HMRC Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool and public sector bodies’ experience of implementing the reform to the off payroll working rules in 2017. Despite this review, which fulfils a manifesto commitment, it is expected that the government will continue with implementation of the new rules in April 2020.

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