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Samantha Hulson from Birch HR gives us an insight into some of the most challenging HR issues which could affect your business in 2019….

Working in HR consultancy is always interesting, challenging and very busy and it looks as though this year is not going to be the exception. It’s always useful to take the time to take stock of employment law and some HR issues on the horizon. Best to be prepared.

It appears that pay will be the dominant force in 2019 according to employment law expert Paula Bailey, who predicts that a gender pay gap report will be high on the agenda.  New laws came into play in January this year that requires UK listed companies that employ more than 250 UK staff to prepare a report that highlights the difference in pay between chief executives and their average UK worker, with the aim of highlighting pay discrepancies.

Employment rights will also be brought to the fore with promises that from April 2019 maximum tribunal fines will be increased for serious breaches of employment rights, specifically around zero-hour contracts and agency employees.   This means that employers will need to provide wage slips to ‘workers’ as well as their employees on zero-hour contracts that state how many hours they’ve worked where pay is variable.

Following on from the #MeToo campaign from last year which centres around sexual harassment in the workplace, 3 independent reports have been compiled which have recommended to the Government that employers need to have a legal duty placed on them to prevent such harassment happening. There is also the need to provide more support to victims who both raise concerns and make tribunal claims. HR can certainly help with this.

Also worth noting that European workers currently living in the UK will be able to apply for settled status this year which will grant them access to indefinitely remain after the end of Brexit’s transition period. But those that are eligible must give evidence that they have been living in the UK for five years, by the time they send in their application.

The National Minimum Wage, including the National Living Wage, is due to increase this April, and HMRC has promised to be more proactive in ensuring that companies comply with the new rise. For workers aged 25 or over, this means an increase from £7.83 per hour to £8.21.  The standard rate for those under 25 will rise from £7.38 to £7.70.

More equal pay tribunals are gaining momentum too, which include Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsburys, led by female staff who feel unequal with regard to pay compared to male staff.

Yes, there really is talk about microchipping employees to improve security, this will be fascinating to see how a court decides to rule on this given the potential of GDPR implications and privacy rights. We understand that UK firm BioTeq, offers this service to businesses and individuals, they have already fitted 150 implants in the UK, in the flesh between the thumb and forefinger.

And finally, the Good Work Plan, which sets out proposals for achieving ‘fair and decent’ work with a realistic scope for development and fulfilment’ for all UK workers.  Proposals suggest that the maximum tribunal fines that can be issued to employers for serious breached of employment rights be raised from £5,000 to £20,000.

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