Employment law – 2018 changes in a nutshell

Time for some New Year’s resolutions? As an employer, you’ll need keep on top of the forthcoming changes to employment law if you are to avoid claims or damage to your reputation. To help you prepare, I’ve listed some of the key changes that are likely to affect your business in 2018. Read on to find out more.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Let’s start with the biggest and most anticipated: the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, endearingly referred to as the GDPR, will come into force on 25 May 2018. The key points are:

• Nearly all businesses will have to update are their privacy notices.
• When processing employees’ data, it would be unwise now to rely on consent – many employment lawyers already advise against that under the Data Protection Act 1998.
• Data processors, as well as data controllers, will have direct obligations.
• Some organisations will have to appoint a Data Protection Officer.
• Fines for non-compliance are expected to increase.

Immigration

There’ll be some immigration law changes on 11 January 2018. Overall these are thought to be favourable for both the workers and their employers. Perhaps the most beneficial change for employers is that they’ll be able to sponsor a foreign student as soon as they complete their studies, rather than waiting for their results to be published.

These changes aren’t to be confused with the new Immigration Bill, which is due to have its first reading in January but is focused on establishing a post-Brexit immigration policy.

And, as usual, a number of changes will take effect in April 2018. Notably:

Gender pay gap reporting

By 4 April 2018, any business employing at least 250 employees must publish their first gender pay gap report. This must include specified information relating to the difference between pay of the males and females in their business.

And what will happen if you fail to publish your report? The Equality and Human Rights Commission is consulting on that issue right now. If you wish to have your say, the deadline’s 2 February 2018.

Taxation

Taxation of termination payments will be changing. In particular:

• For taxation purposes, all notice pay will be treated as earnings. That means they must be taxed as earnings, irrespective of the £30,000 threshold for taxation of termination payments – currently, a somewhat confusing distinction is made between contractual and non-contractual notice pay.
• Note that, a year later in April 2019, treatment of tax and of secondary National Insurance contributions of termination payments is set to be aligned. That means that NICs will be due on termination payments above £30,000. (You may have read that this change would also take effect in April 2018, but it has been postponed.)

Statutory rates

As usual, statutory rates for numerous matters will increase in April. For example, the National Living Wage will increase to £7.83/hour and Statutory Maternity, Paternity and Shared Parental Pay will increase from £140.98 to £145.18/week (or 90% of average earnings if lower).

Tax-free child care

As you’re probably aware, the Government recently introduced a new system of tax-free childcare. Consequently, the childcare voucher system is being phased out and will be closed to new entrants on 6 April 2018.

Changes to be decided

Of course, there’ll be further changes during the year which are not yet fixed. In particular, there’ll be court judgments that may change the law. A few important ones are:

• Definition of a ‘worker’

In February 2018, the Supreme Court is due to consider the case of Pimlico Plumbers v Smith, which, following a tumultuous 2017, may clarify the meaning of ‘worker’ – i.e. that class of people that are neither truly self-employed nor employed under the Employment Rights Act 1996. The Court of Appeal ruled that Gary Smith was a worker, but the Supreme Court may disagree. And sometime later in the year, the Court of Appeal will consider Uber’s appeal about the status of two of its taxi-drivers and the Government is expected to provide a response to the Taylor Review on the same subject.

King v Sash Windows: this case should now return from the ECJ to the UK’s Court of Appeal to apply to UK law. From the ECJ’s judgment, we know that if you incorrectly classify a worker as self-employed, then over several years they may accrue copious annual leave for which they must be paid in lieu if their employment with you ends. What we need clarification on is whether this conflicts with the UK’s two-year limit on claims for past holiday pay and the rule that a three-month break between periods of holiday means that early periods cannot be claimed for.

• Parental leave

Do you pay mothers on maternity leave more than the statutory minimum? And what about fathers taking shared parental leave? If you answered yes to the first question and no to the second, employment tribunals have given conflicting judgments on whether that’s legal. We’re hoping that Employment Appeal Tribunal decisions early in 2018 will iron out inconsistencies.

• Equality Act

And, on 1 May 2018 the ‘gay cake case’ will be heard by the Supreme Court, sitting in Northern Ireland for the first time. The question they’ll be considering is – is it against the Equality Act 2010 to refuse to serve a cake that endorses gay marriage? The question can be extended to other products and other concerns that are related to characteristics protected by the Equality Act.

Raphael Prais is a content lawyer at Epoq Legal Ltd.

If you would like more information about our legal advice and document services for SMEs, please email us or call on 020 8731 2424.

Epoq Legal’s 2017 Activity Round-up

As 2017 draws to a close, we’re pleased to provide a round-up of Epoq’s research, whitepapers, articles and other activities which you may have missed during the year. Just click on the links below to read more. And, if you’d like to discuss any of the services or topics featured, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2018!

Whitepapers

Legal wellbeing: the missing piece of a fully-rounded wellbeing programme?

Wellbeing programmes have become central to the benefit schemes of many employers today and are designed to increase employee engagement, productivity and loyalty. But is there a missing piece to a fully-rounded wellbeing programme?

Download the paper here

The FCA’s transparency at renewal rules – a threat or an opportunity?

In April 2017, the FCA introduced new measures to increase the transparency of information provided to policyholders at renewal. In our whitepaper, we discuss the impact of the new rules and suggest ways in which insurers can respond and benefit in the longer term.

Download the paper here

Research

Experience of consumer rights problems in the UK

Consumer rights problems can occur during a number of everyday activities – renovating a property, shopping or going on holiday. Often not covered by insurance, these problems can result in stress and financial losses. Our survey revealed the range and frequency of problems consumers face.

Read the findings here

What benefits do employees value in the most?

In May 2017, we engaged research company, Opinium to survey the benefits most highly valued by employees. In all, 2002 people completed the survey and the results indicated a high-level of need and appreciation by employees of protection insurance and legal services.

Read the findings here

Who’s made a Will?

As part of our employee benefits survey, we also asked the respondents if they had made a Will. The results revealed that a worrying number of people are putting the financial security of their families at risk by not having a Will.

Read the findings here

Webinar

Legal wellbeing: the missing piece of a truly holistic wellbeing programme?

Presented by Andrew Walker, commercial director at Epoq in May and September 2017.

Download the presentation here

Guides & Demos

During 2017, we produced some new guides and video demonstrations of our products and services. Click on the links below to access them.

Making a Will with Legal for Life

Are you at risk of legal disputes? Take the Legal for Life Health Check

Legal for Life – a guide for insurers

A guide to online legal document and advice services for SMEs

Epoq in the News

Below are links to some press coverage achieved during 2017.
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Whitepaper: What’s missing in today’s employee wellbeing programmes?

Wellbeing programmes have become central to the benefit schemes of many employers today. Often including health insurance, medical services, counselling and gym membership, these programmes are designed to increase employee engagement, productivity and loyalty.

But are there any additional services that could be included to create a more rounded wellbeing programme?

In our latest whitepaper, we explain how a legal services benefit could enhance a wellbeing programme and give greater value to employees and their families. We also reveal the findings of our research into the benefits employees value the most.

Download the paper now

If you’d like to know more or discuss any of the issues the paper raises, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Looking to extend your range of employee benefits in 2018?

If so, visit us on Stand 814 at Employee Benefits Live, where we’ll be showcasing our innovative online employee benefit, Legal for Life.

We’ll also be giving away copies of our latest whitepaper, which includes findings from our survey of the benefits most valued by today’s employees.

If you’d like to book at time to meet our product experts at the stand, just email us with a suggested time. Otherwise, please just come along when it suits you.

If you’re not going to the exhibition, but would like to find out more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Research findings: 90% of adults aged 35 to 44 don’t have a Will leaving their families vulnerable to hardship and legal disputes

Our recent survey of just over 2000 UK adults revealed a worrying gap in legal protection, especially amongst people aged under 65.

Only 41% of those surveyed said they had made a Will and of those, 45% were aged 65 or over. This means that a significant number of people in the age groups most likely to have both assets and dependents don’t have a Will.

In particular, 90% of people aged 35 to 44 and 83% of those aged 45 to 54 don’t have a Will. Not having a Will in place when you die means that intestacy laws will determine how your assets are distributed, regardless of what your wishes may have been. This can lead to delays in getting matters sorted, causing stress and hardship for the people left behind and sometimes even legal disputes.

Interestingly, the same survey asked which employee benefits were valued the most and help with preparing legal documents, such as Wills was rated as valuable by 83% of respondents. This suggests if employers were to provide a Wills service as a benefit, more adults would make one and so protect the interests of their loved ones.

Read the full findings here.

For more information about our Wills preparation service, please don’t hesitate to call 020 8731 2424 or email emma@epoq.co.uk

Press release: Employees value health policies and legal advice ahead of gym membership

New research by Epoq Legal indicates that employees welcome benefits that support individual responsibility

Over 80% of employees value pension, health, legal and protection services, way ahead of the arguably ‘softer’ benefits such as gym membership (62%) and childcare vouchers (41%), according to Epoq’s new research.

This was the case across all age groups, aside from the 18 – 24-year-old category where gym membership appears in joint second place at 92% alongside critical illness insurance. The research was carried out by Opinium on Epoq’s behalf (May 2017) and surveyed 2,002 nationally representative UK adults.

Epoq Commercial Director, Andrew Walker, commented: “Our findings indicate that the majority of employees are looking to employers to offer the kind of benefits strategy that educates, enables and empowers them to protect their future wellbeing.

“Against this backdrop, giving individuals access to the type of benefits that will help them protect their interests – such as pensions, health, protection, legal advice and documents – will clearly be a welcome move.”

Legal advice is typically offered via an Employee Assistance Programme although it is increasingly being combined with online legal document services and offered as an added value service on health and protection products.

With regard to legal documents, the survey also found that access to – and help with – legal documents, such as a Will, also featured highly (83%) in the overall list of most valued employee benefits.

Andrew Walker adds: “The need for such support is clearly there and would likely be highly valued, especially when you consider that the majority of respondents indicated that they had not yet made a Will. Legal advice should include not just helplines, but also online access to tools such as document templates that help people to take action and protect their interests.”

59% of adults don’t have a Will

The survey took a deeper look this aspect and found that only just over two-fifths of respondents (41%) have a Will, the majority of whom (45%) are in the 65+ age bracket.

The ages at which most people are most likely to have a mortgage and dependants also represent the age brackets least likely to have a Will (9% in the 25 – 34 age bracket and 10% in the 35 – 44 age bracket).

“Clearly there’s a need here and if employers were to provide a Wills service as a benefit, it stands to reason that more adults would make one and so protect the interests of their loved ones.” says Mr Walker.

– Ends –

See an infographic of the complete findings here.

For more information about this research or our services, please call us on 020 8731 2424 or email emma@epoq.co.uk

 

What benefits do employees value the most? Read the results of our survey

Recent research from Epoq Legal indicates that employees look to employers to help them protect their interests should things go wrong

As a provider of online legal services, Epoq is used by organisations from a number of sectors to help them give more value to their customers, clients, members or employees.  Our services are most often provided as an addition to a core product such as an insurance policy, but we have seen more interest from employers who are keen to enhance their employee benefits and wellbeing programmes.

In order to find out what sort of services today’s employees value the most, we commissioned Opinium to conduct a survey on our behalf in May 2017. In all, 2,002 UK adults were questioned online and asked to rate the value of services from a list of twelve commonly offered benefits. They were also asked if they had made a Will.

Pensions (95%) and flexible working (91%) most valued benefits

The results show a clear winner with a pension being rated as valuable by 95% of respondents; a rate that was consistent across all age groups.

Flexible working followed a close second at 91%, with 25 to 34 (94%) and 35 to 44 (91%) year olds valuing it the most – perhaps unsurprisingly as these age groups are more likely to have young dependent children. However, the age group 18 to 24 also rated the benefit highly at 90%, suggesting that the younger generation of workers are looking for a less rigid approach to working hours. The age groups valuing flexible working the least were 55 to 64 (85%), 65+ group (87%) and 45 to 54 (89%).

Employees want help to protect their interests

Health insurance was most valued by the 65+ age group (93%), but also by 35 to 44 (92%) and 25 to 34 (91%), which again may be as a result of having young families. Overall, 89% of respondents valued health/medical insurance.

Employees’ desire for help with protecting their interests when things go wrong was further highlighted by the fourth most valued benefits, which were jointly life insurance and legal advice (87%), followed by critical illness insurance (86%) and income protection insurance (85%). Clearly, employees are increasingly aware and worried about the risks to their livelihoods of illness or dying unexpectedly and are keen ensure they and their families are protected.

59% of adults don’t have a Will

Help with preparing legal documents, such as Wills was valued by 83% of respondents, particularly the groups aged 25 to 34 (88%) and 35 to 44 (87%). This finding is correlates with the response to the question of who had made a Will, where shockingly 90% of 35 to 44 year olds and 91% of 25 to 34 year olds do not have a Will. This suggests if employers were to provide a Wills service as a benefit, more adults would make one and so protect the interests of their loved ones. Overall, only 41% of adults have a Will and most of those (45%) are aged 65+.
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Legal wellbeing – the next step for holistic employee wellbeing programmes?

Our recent survey* of 2000 adults in the UK told us that:

•    93% have experienced a consumer rights problem
•    54% of problems are left unresolved
•    43% of people feel frustrated; 36% feel angry
•    59% do not have a Will

What can employers do to help employees deal with legal issues and minimise stress and absences from work?

Download a copy of our recent webinar presentation to find out how a legal services benefit can play an important role in the provision of more holistic wellbeing programmes that are relevant to employees of all ages.

Would like to know more?

Email emma@epoq.co.uk or call us on 020 8731 2424.

* Epoq survey of 2,002 consumers conducted by Opinium, May 2017

Legal wellbeing – the missing piece of a truly holistic employee wellbeing programme

Our survey* of 2000 adults in the UK told us that:

•    93% have experienced a consumer rights problem
•    54% of problems are left unresolved
•    43% of people feel frustrated; 36% feel angry
•    59% do not have a Will

What can employers do to help employees deal with legal issues and minimise stress and absences from work?

Find out during our latest 20-minute webinar when we will explain how a legal services benefit can play an important role in the provision of more holistic wellbeing programmes that are relevant to employees of all ages.

Date: Wednesday 7th June 2017
Time: 10:00
Duration: 20 minutes
Presenter: Andrew Walker, Commercial Director, Epoq

Register here and we’ll be in touch with further information.

Can’t make it, but would like to know more?

Email emma@epoq.co.uk or call us on 020 8731 2424.

* Epoq survey of 2,002 consumers conducted by Opinium, May 2017

93% of adults in the UK have experienced a consumer rights problem, but 54% of problems are unresolved

Epoq has been providing online legal document services for many years and aims to make access to legal help as easy as possible for people. Typically, our services are used to prepare quite complex documents like wills, powers of attorney, divorce applications and tenancy agreements.

However, there are many other less complex, but aggravating legal matters that affect people as they go about their daily lives and which can often be easily resolved with the appropriate letter, document or form.

To find out more about the sorts and frequency of consumer problems experienced by people in the UK, we commissioned research agency Opinium, to conduct a survey on our behalf. In all, 2,002 adults were questioned online and asked to indicate if they had experienced any of a range of problems, from faulty products and bad service, to noisy neighbours and undeserved parking fines.

The results reveal a high incidence of common consumer problems, with 93% of respondents saying that they had experienced at least one of the problems listed (see below). It’s also clear from the results that UK consumers are prepared to stand up for their rights and complain, with 71% taking steps to get the problem resolved.  However, overall 54% of problems experienced are left unresolved, either because consumers are reluctant to complain in the first place (29%) or when they do complain, their appeal for recompense fails.

The most commonly experienced and complained about problem was a faulty product bought either online or from a shop. 71% of people experienced the problem, 92% of them complained and 90% managed to get the problem resolved. This suggests that retailers are taking the Consumer Rights Act seriously and compensating consumers when appropriate as required by the law.

Bad service or food from a restaurant was the second most commonly experienced problem (69%), with 80% of people who complained indicating that the problem was resolved. The ability to complain there and then might explain the high incidence of resolution for this complaint.

The third most experienced problem was noisy or inconsiderate neighbours (57%). However, it appears that while consumers are prepared to take on retailers and service providers, they are reluctant to challenge their neighbours, with less than half (47%) of people experiencing a problem neighbour complaining. And, when they did complain, the problem was resolved in only 56% of cases.
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