Need to know: Employment law matters for Housing Associations

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Kimberley WallaceThis article takes a look at forthcoming employment legislation, risk areas for you to be aware of as an employer and reflections on how a potential exit from the EU could affect you should the EU referendum deliver a Leave result.

These are important employment law matters that employers should be aware of, considering the longer term impact for your organisation.

  • Grandparental Leave: the Government has announced intentions to extend Shared Parental Leave to include Grandparents. This is a further family friendly process that will enable a greater work-life balance for employees and is expected to be brought in by 2018. The legislation would mean that working Grandparents would be eligible to apply for leave from work in order to look after their grandchildren. Within the housing sector, 40% of workers are aged 50 and over, so our sector could potentially see a significant take up of Grandparental Leave.

 

  • Immigration: In May 2014 the civil penalty for employing illegal workers was increased up to £20,000 per illegal worker. In 2015 there was an increase in the number of penalties issued, and the last quarter of 2015 saw 539 civil penalties issued, with a value of over £10 million. With more scrutiny on immigration, housing associations should ensure they have the correct right to work documentation in place for their employees. Employers should check that immigration checks are completed before the employee starts their first day of employment. Using the Right to Work checklist on the Gov.uk website is quick, easy and will save you being liable for a large penalty.

 

  • Equal Pay reporting: the Government is making it a mandatory requirement for employers with more than 250 employees to publish their gender pay gap. This requirement was pushed back, but is now likely to come into force from October 2016. Larger housing associations will need to use reference data from 30th April 2017 and will then have until 30th April 2018 to publish their equal pay report. Preparation for this mandatory requirement is key and employers would be wise to carry out a test equal pay audit in advance of April 2017 to better understand any gender pay gap present. . Should an audit reveal any significant gaps, employers will still have the opportunity to correct the situation and can develop an equal pay action plan in advance of the April 2017 reference date. This may include the introduction of a job evaluation framework (where not already in place) to mitigate the risk of inequalities in pay developing. This will ensure that housing associations employees are receiving equal pay.

 

  • Brexit: a big topic, but let’s take a moment to also consider the impact on employment legislation if we were to leave the EU. A large amount of UK employment law derives from EU directives (e.g. The Working Time Directive 1998, The Equality Act 2010, Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2014 to name but a few) which affects workers’ rights from equal treatment at work, annual leave, working time and family friendly policies. Should we leave the EU, it is possible that the Government would want to opt out of key EU employment law directives. However repatriation of employment law powers to the UK would not happen overnight and legislation would go through a transformation period including reviewing or repealing any legislation that derives from the EU and consultation. The process to untangle our laws would be likely to take significant time so it is possible that we wouldn’t see any change to UK employment law for a number of years.

So plenty of confirmed and potential changes in legislation to keep your eyes on.

Altair provides HR and Organisational Excellence consultancy services for housing sector clients across the UK and Ireland.

For employment support or to carry out an Equal Pay test assessment, please contact the Organisational Excellence team at Altair or contact Kimberley Wallace direct on: kimberley.wallace@nullaltairltd.co.uk / 07585 954 218.