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Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings

We attach for, your enjoyment, an end of year Quiz. This has nothing to do with employment law (we all need a break) other than that it was written by one of our employment lawyers: answers in the New Year.

We attach for, your enjoyment, an end of year Quiz.  This has nothing to do with employment law (we all need a break) other than that it was written by one of our employment lawyers: answers in the New Year.

For those of you itching to plan for 2017 our Annual Planner event is on Wednesday 25 January 2017 (London) and Tuesday 31 January 2017 (Birmingham).

By way of a sneak preview here are some potential highlights for 2017:

1. Challenge to tribunal fees – UNISON's challenge to the introduction of Tribunal fees is due to be heard by the Supreme Court on 27 and 28 March 2017.

2. Industrial relations – parts of the Trade Union Act 2016 are expected to come into force making it even more difficult for unions to bring industrial action and requiring greater supervision of picketing. 

3. Union recognition – there may be growing pressure on demand economy providers to recognise unions – see for example, the request by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain for recognition is respect of Deliveroo riders.

4. Review of modern employment practices – independent review of modern employment practices, including zero-hours contracts and the gig economy.  The review will take six months and will consider, amongst other things: security, pay and rights; progression and training; and achieving a balance of rights and responsibilities for new business models.  With home ownership by 25-year-olds having halved in 20 years, there are urgent questions over whether the modern economy is delivering for everyone.

5. IR35 – a new duty on public sector organisations to deduct tax and national insurance contributions (NICs) for all short-term assignments where the relationship is similar to one of employment is expected to take effect in April 2017.  Changes may then follow in the private sector.

6. Gender pay gap reporting – mandatory annual reporting of gender pay gap data for large employers will come into force.  The first gender pay gap reports will be due by April 2018.  Employers will have the option to include an explanation of any pay gaps and set out what action they plan to take to close them.  This is where we expect the real action to be.

7. Improving board diversity (ethnicity) – the Parker Review Committee consultation concludes on 28 February 2017 and final recommendations are expected to follow shortly afterwards.

8. Improving board diversity (gender) – there have been calls for a European directive to address the lack of female non-executive directors in listed companies and public sector bodies.  Whether or not any such directive comes into force commercial pressures are likely to keep this issue in the news.

9. Impact of the Autumn Statement – the Chancellor's Autumn Statement was, like the November weather, gloomy. Government finances are predicted to be £122bn worse off by 2020 than expected before the EU referendum, with the Brexit vote accounting for an extra £58bn of borrowing.  There were also a number of specific announcements about the next tax year (and beyond) that will be of interest to employment law practitioners including:

• The personal allowance, the threshold after which income tax begins to be paid, will rise from £11,000 to £11,500 for the 2017-18 tax year and the 40% higher-rate threshold will increase to £45,000.

• The national living wage will rise from £7.20 an hour to £7.50 from April 2017.

• The exemption from income tax and NICs for the first £30,000 of a termination payment survives. However, as announced in the 2016 Budget, from April 2018 termination payments over £30,000 will be subject to tax and employer NICs.

• Abolition of the tax advantage for new employee shareholder status schemes.

10. Whistleblowing – in June 2017, the Court of Appeal is due to consider the meaning of the words ‘in the public interest’, which were added to the whistleblowing legislation by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. To be protected, a disclosure made by a worker now has to be in the public interest.

So, only one mention of Brexit and none of Trumponomics.  Whatever 2017 holds it won't be quiet.  Thankfully there are a few duvet days between now and then to recharge batteries.  Happy holidays everyone.

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