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Employment Law 2021 – Look Ahead

Published: 27 January 2021
Time to read: 4 mins

We hope 2021 will see a return to something closer to normality for businesses, with more to talk about than the CJRS and its ever-changing forms. In the short term, the UK’s departure from the EU should not cause any major changes to obligations and entitlements under current employment law. In the meantime, we will endeavour to keep you up to date with major developments and are available to assist with any employment related queries.

While the CJRS and any possible further variations will continue to be part of our lives until at least the end of April 2021 (for now), please click here for a summary of how 2020 finished up and a detailed look at what we can expect in 2021 including:

  • That from January HMRC will publish details monthly of employers who have made claims under the CJRS;
  • In March that there will be the second reading of The Pregnancy and Maternity Bill, which if passed will see an extension of redundancy protection; and
  • That there will be increases to the National Minimum Wage in April.

Some other things to look out for in employment law this year are:

  • The Employment Bill intended to implement further aspects of the Good Work Plan was deferred from 2020 and so may be introduced this year. Recommendations of the Good Work Plan that may be introduced in 2021 include, but are not limited to, the entitlement to leave for neonatal care, default flexible working unless there is a good reason for the employer not to, ensuring tips go to workers in full and the right to request a more ‘predictable’ contract.
  • It is hoped the Supreme Court will publish their long awaited judgement in the case of Uber BV and others (Appellants) v Aslam and others (Respondents) following a two day hearing last summer. Uber are seeking to overturn the Court of Appeal’s decision that Uber drivers are workers and are therefore entitled to certain statutory rights including the right to be paid the NMW and the right to take paid holidays. Uber’s position is that their drivers enter into individual contracts with customers to provide driving services and are not considered workers. The judgement will be significant as Uber have 1000 claims stayed pending the decision. It will also have an impact on wider gig-economy business models.
  • Other hotly awaited decisions include Asda v Brierly, determining whether the supermarket’s predominantly female retail employees and male distribution employees should receive equal pay; Royal Mencap Society v Tomlinson-Blake which concerns payment of employees for ‘sleep-in’ shifts; and Harpur Trust v Brazel in which the Supreme Court will hear an appeal on how holiday pay should be calculated for ‘part-year’ workers. Another holiday pay claim, Flowers v East of England Ambulance Trust, which will consider whether voluntary overtime should be included in calculating holiday pay, will be heard in June 2021.
  • An appeal has also been lodged in the matter of Davies v Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service which relates to disability discrimination arising out of conduct caused by the symptoms of menopause.
  • Although no date has been confirmed, Parliament is set to hold a debate on mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting after a petition calling for introduction passed 130,000 signatures. There is already mandatory gender pay gap reporting which, unless the government announces otherwise, will be obligatory for employers with more than 250 employees again this year. 2019/2020 reports were not mandatory as a consequence of the Covid-19 outbreak in March 2020.
  • It remains to be seen whether there will be an increase in dismissal cases relating to redundancy, furlough and furlough fraud, whether we will see any disputes relating to returns to workplaces and ongoing health and safety concerns, or even whether any cases emerge involving a requirement to vaccinated. There may be a number of issues that arise in respect of the vaccination and while the answer is still typically ‘no, you cannot require employees to get a vaccine’, we will continue to watch that space.

If you would like to discuss your own circumstances, please get in touch.

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