2017 Trends: What You Need to Know
With the new year now well and truly underway, we have been thinking “big picture” and asking ourselves what trends* we think HR professionals need to be aware of.
* Sadly, being employment lawyers we have constrained ourselves to legal trends, not more exciting things like whether fluro leg warmers will make their long-awaited comeback (anytime now, anytime now).
Here’s our top 7 predictions:
1. The Gig Economy cases.
Bored of them yet? We will surely be hitting saturation point in the press soon, so if you are getting over it then we understand. But we still think that everyone in HR should take a little time to get on top of the main legal issues, even if you don’t hire car drivers (like Uber) or bicycle couriers (like City Sprint). Why? The reason is that, although the cases seem to only apply to certain specific workforces, they may in fact impact independent contractor arrangements more broadly. If you want to know more, see our article on the latest Employment Tribunal decision elsewhere in this newsletter.
2. Brexit, Frexit, Nexit, IndyRef2 … and beyond.
All of sudden everyone wants to break up! But, as Neil Sedaka, the Four Seasons and the Partridge Family all predicted years ago (as well as many others), breaking up is sure hard to do. Just look at the state of the pound!
So how, specifically, does this make our 2017 list? Two ways. First, nobody can tell us what the ultimate impact will be on UK employment laws – watch this space. But, more immediately, there is one community that is already feeling the strain. In a word: expats. We think 2017 could signal a bumpy ride for our globetrotting friends, both in the UK and elsewhere. Immigration could become an issue (with or without a Mexican Wall), as well as expat compensation & benefits. Now is the time to look at your expat arrangements, including any policies for an early return home.
3. Endless industrial action.
Based in London? If so, by now this is probably the by-line to the story of your life. It sure feels it.
When will it all end? Will it ever end? We don’t know, but what we do know is that if you haven’t already done it you should probably think about reviewing and updating your policies dealing with absence caused by strike action. If you can actually get into work to do it.
4. The gender pay gap.
Yes, yes, yes. We have all heard it all before. But, seriously, if you are not yet prepared for the impact of gender pay reporting – especially the PR angle - you should jump on it.
5. Private sector Equal Pay claims.
Thought equal pay drama was a “publicsectorproblem” Well, think again. The last year or two have shown us that unions are increasingly prepared to bring claims in the private sector. And big ones, at that (just look at Asda and its £100m battle in 2016). If you work in HR for a large unionised organisation, this is one area of employment law you should definitely brush up on.
6. Corporate Social Responsibility.
Corporate WHAT, we hear you ask?
Trust us, it’s going to be bigger than Pokemon Go was for six months. In the next year or two, we think this will be all the rage. And as many CSR initiatives involve labour issues (like complying with the UK’s Modern Slavery Act), it has a habit of reeling-in some poor unsuspecting HR professional to be the local champion. If you haven’t looked at it before, now is the time if you want to dazzle your colleagues with your knowledge later on.
7. Employment Tribunal Fees
Should they stay or should they go now? Not technically a “trend” as such, but we couldn’t pull together a list of our faves without mentioning that this year is likely to see the resolution of another epic clash (pun intended).
Unison has been fighting to challenge Employment Tribunal fees ever since they were first brought in, back in 2013 and their latest appeal is meant to be heard in March. Separately, the government is also currently reviewing the fees to determine whether they are worth keeping. So keep your eye on this: if the fees are scrapped, expect an increase Employment Tribunal cases.