Posted: 11th February 2019
Here is a summary of important areas likely to impact HR and employment within small businesses.
It will be important to equip managers and employees with the skills and strength to cope with employment changes associated with Brexit. Supportive well-being programmes and resilience training integrated into overarching people strategies will benefit not just employees, but the productivity of whole organisations.
The UK government has stressed that the rights of EU citizens will stay protected regardless of the Brexit deal/no-deal outcomes and the Migration Advisory Committee has strongly advised that any post-Brexit immigration system must be less bureaucratic and less expensive for employers. Businesses should ensure that they maintain open and honest communications with their EU workers and help them understand Settled and Temporary Status.
There may be some longer term post-Brexit UK reforms of employment protection laws regarding holiday accrual and pay, discrimination compensation and agency worker regulations. However, certainly in the short term, the government is far more likely to support the ‘non-regression’ of employment law standards and may continue to be tied to EU employment laws as part of any negotiated trade agreements.
The hype around GDPR might have lessened, but businesses are still being advised to remain vigilant regarding the way they and their people access, store and secure personal data. The ICO is likely to continue focusing its attention on larger organisations, but all businesses should keep their staff briefed and trained, as ‘employee negligence’ is still the biggest data breach risk to most companies.
Employee, worker and freelancer terminology will continue to be problematic for many organisations in 2019. There is unlikely to be any consensus regarding clearer worker definitions this year. Implementation of the widely criticised IR35 reforms will now be pushed back to April 2020 in the private sector and only apply to large and medium sized businesses. This is a welcome administrative reprieve for smaller employers.
The Good Work Plan
The government has responded to the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices with its Good Work Plan, likely to be implemented in 2020. Key commitments include: giving zero hour workers the right to request more stable contracts; giving all workers a day one right to a statement of their terms and conditions; producing new legislation on defining employment status; lengthening the reference period for calculating holiday pay from 12 weeks to 52 weeks and abolishing an agency worker loophole called the Swedish Derogation.
Automation and Artificial intelligence
The pros and cons of automation and artificial intelligence will be explored within more business areas. Exponents argue that technology will enrich jobs and make them more enjoyable, removing boring and repetitive tasks. However, critics suggest automation will create widespread job losses and a ‘big brother’ future of microchipping and control. The legal and ethical issues of employee monitoring will continue to be debated this year.
Watch this space for more developments over the coming weeks and months!