March Legal Roundup

With the new tax year on the horizon, the government has announced increases to statutory rates, tribunal award caps, and NI thresholds. In the courts, a self-employed plumber has been found to be a worker, and an appeal to the Supreme Court in the Lock holiday pay case is rejected.

Statutory rates

There is to be an increase to the statutory pay rates for family friendly leave next month (last year the rates remained at 2015 levels).

Statutory maternity, paternity, adoption and shared parental pay will rise from £139.58 to £140.98 a week from 2 April 2017. Statutory sick pay will also increase from £88.45 to £89.35 per week.

Tribunal compensation limits

The limits on tribunal awards will rise on 6 April 2017. A week’s pay, used for calculating redundancy and basic unfair dismissal awards, will go from £479 to £489, and the cap on the total that can be awarded in these cases rises from £14,370 to £14,760. The cap on the compensatory award for unfair dismissal rises from £78,962 to £80.541.

Tax and NMW

National Insurance contribution thresholds will also increase for the new tax year beginning in April. The lower earnings limit for Class 1 contributions will go from £112 to £113 per week, and the upper earnings limit will rise from £827 to £866.

The National Living Wage, paid to workers aged 25 and over, will increase from £7.20 to £7.50 an hour from 1 April 2017, while for workers in the 21-24 age group, the National Minimum Wage will increase from £6.95 to £7.05 an hour.

Gender pay gap reporting

The 6 April 2017 is also the enforcement date for the new gender pay gap reporting requirements for organisations with 250 and more employees, coming in under the Equality Act 2010. Equivalent duties for public sector organisations in England (control of these bodies is devolved in Wales and Scotland) are in force from 31 March 2017.

Zero hours

According to a Resolution Foundation analysis of the latest Labour Force Survey from the Office for National Statistics, the number of workers on zero hours contracts is at a record high of 910,000. The figure has grown on average annually by 15 per cent since 2015, however, this rapid rise tailed off during the last six months of 2016, when growth was only 0.8 per cent, compared with a 7.7 per cent increase in 2015. Commentators are attributing the growth reversal to the bad publicity surrounding the use of these contracts and skills shortages in the labour market.

Case law

The employer in the long-running holiday pay case, Lock v British Gas Trading, has been refused permission to appeal the case to the Supreme Court. This means that the Court of Appeal judgment on it, which held that holiday pay must include an element representative of results-based commission, will now stand. However, law firm Lewis Silkin pointed out that this is not the end of the road for the case, which will now return to the original tribunal, possibly this month. 

In the latest employment status case, Pimlico Plumbers v Smith, the Court of Appeal has found that a plumber described as “self-employed” was actually a worker, entitled to holiday pay and protection against discrimination.

« Back to News