No changes to employment law says the Secretary of State for BREXIT
The Secretary of State for BREXIT – David Davis – has suggested that UK employment law will not be radically changed after the UK leaves the European Union.
He said in a blog for Conservative Home that ‘Britain has a relatively flexible workforce, and so long as the employment law environment stays reasonably stable it should not be a problem for business’. Mr Davis further added that ‘There is also a political, or perhaps sentimental point. The great British industrial working classes voted overwhelmingly for BREXIT. I am not at all attracted by the idea of rewarding them by cutting their rights’.
In the meantime we have no idea when Article 50 will be triggered or what will be negotiated in the interim period as a price for the UK to have access to the EU single market. This could for example include the retention of minimum employment law standards affecting TUPE and the Working Time Regulations. Currently everything appears to be uncertain and up in the air and the next couple of years are going to be interesting as BREXIT is negotiated with our EU neighbours and implemented.
New Prime Minster promises worker representation on UK Boards
The UK’s new Prime Minister Theresa May in her opening speech as conservative party leader has promised that her government will serve the many and not the privileged few and was at the service of ordinary working people.
As part of that pledge Mrs May has also vowed to ensure that there is worker representation on the UK’s Boards of major companies as well as consumer representation. Her words have also pleased the Trades Union Congress where its General Secretary Frances O’Grady said that ‘Workers have a clear interest in the long-term success of their companies and deserve a bigger say’.
Currently some EU countries take worker representation seriously including Germany, Sweden and Denmark. It now look as though the UK will now follow.
New immigration laws on employing illegal workers come into effect
New laws came into effect on 12 July 2016 which impose tougher penalties and sanctions for employing illegal workers which are designed to create a more hostile environment for undocumented migrants. The focus and impact will hit employers with heavy fines and imprisonment for those individuals who hire illegal workers.
Historically it has been an offence to knowingly employ a person who is not authorised to work in the UK and employers faced a penalty of £10,000 per illegal worker that they employed. This penalty increased to £20,000 as a result of the Immigration Act 2014, however from this month new tougher penalties come into effect.
The bench mark has now been lowered so that not only employers who knowingly employ illegal workers will be caught but also those who have ‘reasonable cause to believe that the employee is disqualified from employment by reason of the employee’s immigration status.
Any breaches of the new laws could result in a maximum period of imprisonment of up to five years for Directors and business owners.
Employees are also targeted in the new legislation where those found to be working illegally could face imprisonment of up to 51 weeks and/or a fine in England and Wales, and imprisonment of up to six months and/or a fine in Scotland and Northern Ireland. An illegal worker’s salary can now also be seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Immigration Officers also have new powers now to search an employer’s premises and to confiscate any evidence of illegal worker activity and offences.
There are also proposals to close premises for up to 48 hours where a company is found to have employed illegal workers but these have not yet been implemented.
It is strongly recommended that employers protect themselves by obtaining the employee’s original right to work documentation from the Home Office’s prescribed list before allowing a worker to commence employment and to question the validity of the document with the employee in person. Employers are also advised to keep clear copies of the documentation and to mark the date that the documents were checked and if possible to get this witnessed and verified.
There is also a new skills charge of £1,000 for employees who are sponsored to work in the UK and who come from outside the European Economic Area, which comes into effect in April 2017. These provisions may well be diluted or abolished once we have a timetable in place for BREXIT.
Employment Tribunal Judgments can soon be viewed on-line
Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service has confirmed that future employment tribunal judgments will be made publicly available on-line from the autumn.
Their database will allow a search of all first instance decisions across the UK.
This will be a welcome development as the only way of accessing these decisions at the moment is to attend the Central Employment Tribunal offices at Bury St Edmunds for decisions made in England and Wales and Glasgow for Scottish decisions.