Paula Bailey: Preparing for a year of landmark employment law reform in 2019

This year is set to be an eventful one in the world of employment law. The recurring theme is pay, which is likely to dominate the employment law agenda for 2019.

Firstly, itemised payslips are on the agenda. From 6 April 2019, the legal right to a payslip will be extended to workers as well as employees. Employers will also be obliged to include the total number of hours worked on payslips for workers whose wages vary depending on how much time they have worked.

There is also more for employers to do around pay reporting. As of 1 January 2019, new laws have come into force requiring UK listed organisations with more than 250 UK employees to report annually on the pay gap between its chief executive and its average UK employee. The first reports of this kind are to be published in 2020.

Furthermore, ethnicity pay gap reporting is on the cards. Following a consultation which closed on 11 January 2019, we are likely to see further proposals regarding ethnicity pay reporting this year.

The national minimum wage should also be on employers’ radar. Following the 2018 Budget, on 1 April 2019 there will be increases to the national minimum wage rates, including increases to the national living wage; this will rise from £7.83 an hour to £8.21 an hour for employees aged 25 and over.

It will be crucial for employers to work with their payroll departments to ensure the correct procedures are in place ahead of the 2019 deadlines. In recent years, we have seen a number of cases involving employers being named and shamed for their failure to comply with national minimum wage obligations.

Following the robust approach taken by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) against retailer Iceland’s operation of a Christmas saving scheme, employers should ensure that they review their pay rates, benefit schemes and other deductions they are making from pay, to ensure they do not fall foul of national minimum wage legislation.

Paula Bailey is an employment law partner at Howes Percival