This year, the government is making a range of Employment Law reforms that will affect almost all employers in the UK. The reforms have been considered controversial, but as an employer you need to ensure that you’re following the law. And, as an employee, that your employer is following the new rules. That’s why our experts here at We Talk Law have put together this guide – to tell you what the changes are and how they will affect your business or employment in the coming months.

Gender pay reporting

As of the 26th March 2016, large employers (those with 250 or more employees) will have to publish information about their gender pay gaps. This means that it will be compulsory for organisations to make public information about the difference in pay between men and women. This also includes any gap in bonus payments.

The government has yet to disclose further information, such as what needs to be provided and where the information should be published. It’s not a need to panic, as it’s expected that employers will be given a grace period to get to grips with the new legislation.

Introduction of the National Living Wage

The biggest Employment Law change in 2016, especially for lower paid workers, is the introduction of the National Living Wage, which comes into effect on the 1st April 2016. For the first time in the UK, employers will have to pay staff aged 25 and over the National Living Wage. This effectively works like a new top rate for the National Minimum Wage.

For those aged under 25, lower national minimum wage rates will still apply. The government has set the Living Wage at an initial £7.20 per hour. One important change to pay attention to is that the penalty for paying staff the mimimim wages will also double as the Living Wage comes into effect.

Frozen statutory parental pay and sick pay

The annual increase in the weekly rate of statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay and statutory shared parental pay will not happen in 2016. Normally, the rates increase each year, however due to the UK’s recent financial difficulty, the change is not likely to happen until 2017. Statutory sick pay rates will also remain the same.

Public-sector exit payment restrictions

For people who work in the public sector, you need to be aware that exit payments will now be capped at £95,000 in 2016. There is no date set for the implementation of this change. The idea behind this change is to limit excessive exit payments for staff leaving the sector.

Public sector repayments

As of the 1st of April, should an employee leave the public sector, they will have to repay their exit payment when they return to work in the same part of the sector within 12 months. This will only apply to employees earning over £100,000.

Exclusivity clauses

Employees will now be given power to seek redress when their employer purposefully ignores the ban on exclusivity clauses in zero hours employment contracts. These clauses, which prohibit employees from working with other companies. were banned in 2015. As of January 2016, employees now have the right to complain to an employment tribunal if they have been let go or treated unfairly following a breach of an exclusivity clause.

Protected apprenticeships

The government has now banned organisations from using the term “apprenticeship” when it is applied to a scheme that is not actually a statutory apprenticeship, for example in an advert for a job.

Updated laws on employing foreign workers

There will also be Employment Law changes for foreign workers. These are:

    • making it an offence to work illegally.
    • requiring all public-facing public-sector employees to speak English fluently
    • and introducing an immigration skills charge for employers that use foreign workers.

If you’re an employer or employee and you want to know more about the upcoming changes to Employment Law, or want to get expert legal advice, then give our friendly experts a call on 01273 696962. You can also message us at We specialise in all areas of Employment Law, and have helped dozens of people over the years.