There are a number of important developments due to take place during 2008. The following is a summary of the ones most likely to be of interest to employers.
For dismissals with effective dates on or after 1 February 2008, a week’s statutory redundancy pay will increase from £310 to £330, and the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal will increase from £60,600 to £63,000.
Amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 were due to be made on 1 October 2007 following the Equal Opportunities Commission’s successful challenge that the Employment Equality (Sex Discrimination) Regulations 2005 which amended the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 did not properly implement the Equal Treatment Directive. The Government has stated that it intends to implement the amendments by February 2008.
From 6 April 2008, the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004 will apply to employers with at least 50 employees. These employers must establish a framework for consultation with their employees about economic and employment-related matters if a valid employee request is received. Also on this date the obligations to consult before making changes to occupational and personal pension schemes will be extended to cover undertakings with more than 50 employees.
On 6 April 2008 the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007 will come into force. It creates a new offence of corporate manslaughter which replaces the common law offence of manslaughter by gross negligence. It will apply to corporations, companies, partnerships, Government departments and other public bodies, trade unions and employers associations. An organisation will be guilty of an offence if the way its activities are managed or organised causes a person’s death and amounts to a gross breach of a relevant duty of care owed to that person. A substantial element of the breach must relate to the way an organisation’s senior management managed or organised its activities.
A decision from the ECJ is expected shortly in the case of Coleman v Attridge Law, the first UK reference to the ECJ in connection with community law on disability discrimination by association with a disabled person.
The Court of Appeal’s decision in the case of James v London Borough of Greenwich is due to be delivered imminently. The case is of importance because it focuses on the rights of agency workers and the circumstances in which they may or may not be considered to be employees. All cases on the employment status of agency workers have been stayed pending the outcome of the Court of Appeal’s decision on this point.
The Advocate General’s opinion in HM Revenue and Customs v Stringer (formerly Commissioners of Inland Revenue v Ainsworth is due to be delivered on 24 January 2008. This will give employers some guidance on the previously uncertain issue of whether an employee on sick leave can choose to take paid holiday.
The House of Lords will hear the appeal in Bolton School v Evans on the question of whether the protection from detriment given to workers under section 47B of the Employment Rights Act 1996 applies only to the disclosure of the relevant information itself and not to the worker’s actions and behaviour in connection with that disclosure. The Hearing date is not yet available but is expected to be during 2008.
The Employment Bill was published on 6 December 2007 and is expected to receive Royal assent in the summer. The Bill will repeal the statutory dismissal and grievance procedures. However it is unlikely that the Bill will come into force until 2009.