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Sunday, 25 January 2015 15:10

Employment Law - What to expect in 2015

Written by  Innes Clark
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May 2015 will, of course see a general election and in the run up to that the various parties will be setting out their manifestos which will include their views on how UK employment law should develop moving forward. It will make for an interesting debate.

In addition to this, the following legislative changes are expected in 2015:

  • The new system of shared parental leave (SPL) will be available to parents of children due to be born or placed for adoption with them on or after 5 April 2015
  • The requirement for 26 weeks' service before employees become entitled to adoption leave will be removed on 5 April 2015.
  • A new right for both single and joint adopters to attend adoption appointments will come into force on 6 April 2015.
  • The Shared Parental Leave and Paternity and Adoption Leave (Adoptions from Overseas) Regulations 2014 and the Statutory Shared Parental Pay (Adoption from Overseas) Regulations 2014 come into force in April 2015. These aim to include couples who are adopting a child from outside the UK in the right to shared parental leave and pay.
  • The right to take unpaid parental leave will be extended to all parents of children up to the age of 18 years. This type of leave is currently only available where the child is under the age of 5 or 18 if they are disabled. This form of parental leave should not be confused with shared parental leave which is referred to above. This is due to come into force on 5 April 2015.
  • The provisions of the Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2014 will come in to force as at 6 April 2015. These will extend current rights to adoption leave contained in the Paternity and Adoption Leave Regulations 2002 to individuals fostering a child under the "Fostering for Adoption" scheme.
  • The annual index linked change to the Employment Tribunal compensatory award cap will take place with effect from 6 April.
  • The 'Fit for Work' service which will provide occupational health assessments and assist employees to return to work who have been absent for four weeks or more is expected to be fully operational throughout the UK by the end of May 2015.
  • From 1 July the two year cap on backdated holiday pay claims raised in the Employment Tribunal will come into force. This cap will apply only to claims raised on or after the 1 July 2015.. In addition, the draft regulations provide that regulation 16 of the Working Time Regulations 1998 does not provide for a contractual right to paid leave. This legislation was introduced as a direct result of the Bear Scotland decision.
  • National minimum wage rates are likely to change in October 2015.
  • A draft order to outlaw caste discrimination is expected to be introduced later in 2015.

Various changes were expected in 2015 as a result of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill. However, due to the timing of the general election it is unlikely that these changes will come into force before parliament dissolves.

In addition to the legislative changes referred to above, the following important court decisions are expected in 2015:

Calculation of Holiday Pay

Lock v British Gas Trading Limited and others

The case dealt with the question of whether a worker, whose pay comprises basic pay and sales-related commission, should receive holiday pay of more than just basic pay. The European Court of Justice considered that the holiday pay of such workers should comprise both their basic salary and an amount that reflects the commission, or other regular variable component, previously earned over a representative period.

This case has been returned to the Tribunal by the European Court of Justice to consider whether the domestic legislation can be interpreted in line with the European Court of Justice's decision and, if it can, the level of holiday pay to which the Claimant was entitled. It will also, hopefully, provide guidance on the reference period that should be used when making the calculation.

The Tribunal Hearing is expected to take place on 4 February 2015.

Collective consultation

USDAW v Ethel Austin Ltd (in administration) and another

On 5 February the Advocate General's opinion in the Woolworths case will be issued. This will not be binding on the Court of Justice of the European Union but very often the Court will follow the Advocate General's opinion. The EAT approached Section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Consolidation Act by deleting the words "at one establishment" because it thought that Section 188 did not previously give full effect to the Directive. This means that if an employer was proposing 20 or more redundancies across the workforce then they are required to collectively consult prior to implementing the redundancies. The Advocate General will issue his opinion on 5 February.

Judicial review of new fees regime

R (Unison) v Lord Chancellor and another [2014] EWHC 218 (Admin)

On 7 February 2014 the High Court dismissed the judicial review proceedings brought by Unison. The decision of the High Court in relation to the second judicial review based on more up to date evidence was issued on 17 December 2014 but again proved unsuccessful for UNISON. However, this is not the end of the matter as UNISON have been granted permission to appeal this second decision. The parties will no doubt be back in court in 2015.

Judicial review of the unfair dismissal compensation cap

R (on the application of Compromise Agreements Ltd) v Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

The Court of Appeal's judgement is awaited in this case in which Compromise Agreements Ltd argued that the statutory cap of one year's salary in unfair dismissal cases is indirectly discriminatory on the ground of age because older workers are more likely to be out of work for a longer period and therefore eligible for more compensation without the application of the statutory cap.

In addition to the cases mentioned above we will also see numerous decisions from the Employment Appeal Tribunal (and other courts) dealing with a significant variety of employment issues. This will ensure that, despite the reduction in legislative changes, employers (and employment lawyers) will be kept on their toes.

Last modified on Monday, 26 January 2015 20:42
Innes Clark

Innes Clark

Employment Lawyer
Morton Fraser Solicitors 

Website: www.morton-fraser.com/blog/employment E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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