The Supreme Court has refused permission to appeal in Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police v Hextall. This means that the law remains as set out in the Court of Appeal's judgment, which stated that failure to enhance pay for shared parental leave was neither indirect discrimination nor a breach of equal pay rights.
The proposed IR35 reform represents the biggest change to employment tax for decades. Until now, businesses have been able to engage contractors using personal services companies (or other intermediaries) without having to give much thought to the individual contractor's status for tax purposes. The proposed changes mean that businesses must review how they engage with contractors ahead of April 2020.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published substantial new guidance on sexual harassment and harassment at work, setting out detailed recommendations that employers should consider following to prevent and deal with such behaviour. The guidance puts the onus on employers to be more inquisitive about what is going on in their workplace, rather than simply having policies and dealing with complaints.
Confidentiality clauses or non-disclosure agreements have become a topic of significant interest because of how they can be used to prevent employees from reporting allegations of sexual harassment or other similar misconduct. The government recently published its response to a consultation on the regulation of confidentiality clauses, which sets out a number of proposals for new legislation in this area.
The government is committed to cracking down on disguised employment. In order to achieve this, the IR35 rules will change from April 2020. The IR35 rules apply where contractors personally provide services via an intermediary. However, if the contractor is directly engaged, they would be considered an employee or office holder for tax purposes. The changes will also apply to more complex labour chains, so an early understanding of the labour supply chain is critical.
In an emphatic judgment, the Court of Appeal has ruled that it is not direct discrimination, indirect discrimination or a breach of equal pay rights to provide enhanced pay for maternity leave and statutory pay only for shared parental leave (SPL). This judgment is good news for employers, as it sends a clear message that it is lawful to enhance maternity pay but provide statutory pay only for SPL.
The government recently published a consultation paper extending protection from redundancy for pregnant women, women who have returned to work after maternity leave and new parents. The paper seeks views on whether protection should be extended throughout pregnancy and for a period after a woman returns to work and whether this should also apply to parents who have taken other types of leave.
The Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill recently received royal assent to become the Parental Bereavement (Leave and Pay) Act 2018. The act entitles employed parents who have lost a child to take statutory paid leave to allow them time to grieve. The new rights are expected to come into force in 2020.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal recently indicated that enhancing maternity pay, but not pay for shared parental leave, may give rise to indirect sex discrimination claims by fathers. Indirect discrimination was always expected to prove a much greater challenge to employers paying different rates of pay to women on maternity leave and parents taking shared parental leave. Unfortunately, the tribunal's decision has not resolved this issue.
The first case regarding the amounts paid to men and women on shared parental leave has been decided by an employment tribunal in Glasgow. Following the decision, employers which have combined their family leave policies into a single family-friendly policy should seek advice, as it may be easier to justify a difference in treatment in relation to pay if that difference is reflected in different types of leave.