At the start of the year, we set out our five HR and employment law priorities for employers. Now as 2018 draws to a close, we look back at what happened with those topics, and what may be on the horizon.
It was almost impossible to escape the barrage of emails asking you to “review your privacy settings” back in May, as every business suddenly became very aware of the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules surrounding the use of personal data.
This was more than likely a result of businesses being ‘better safe than sorry’ and asking for consent to keep people’s data. Although there hasn’t yet been a wave of convictions relating to data protection, many organisations seemingly still have work to do in order to abide by the legislation.
The Independent reported that half of business owners surveyed are still confused by the new rules, while high profile cases such as Morrisons proved that huge payouts for data breaches are indeed possible.
Employment tribunal fees
The July 2017 ruling that employment tribunal fees are unlawful is still in place. It has led to a huge increase in claims being made, with the National User Group (NUG) reporting a 165% increase in single claims compared to last year. They also revealed that some employment tribunal claims may not be heard until 2020.
Some believe that this will not continue, and it has been speculated that tribunal fees may return at some point in the future. The Ministry of Justice stated that it may seek to reintroduce “progressive” fees to help to fund the court system, but whether that happens remains to be seen.
Back in January, we mentioned the government’s industrial strategy to improve Britain’s slow rate of productivity compared with nations such as France and the US. One of the key areas of their strategy was people, which is where employee engagement comes in.
While it’s difficult to measure the success of the industrial strategy – especially with the Brexit situation being as uncertain as ever – employers are still considering employee engagement to be a priority. Cascade HR reported that 40% of respondents to a survey pinpointed it as a major issue for 2019, showing that there’s room for improvement.
Learning and development
We identified eLearning as a priority, and indeed many employers have actively sought to ‘futureproof’ their workforce. The UK L&D Report 2018 shows that even in the current economic climate, 94 per cent of the best performers surveyed say learning and development is critical to success. As a result, they enjoy the lowest turnover of staff.
Almost two-thirds of companies with increased turnover in the past year rate leadership and management development as their top priority. Those with decreased turnover are twice as likely to say their staff members do not prioritise learning.
Organisations as diverse as McDonald’s, Thames Water and the Met Office have even been using virtual reality to train employees.
Flexible working has been flagged up in many articles over the year that describe “what employees want”. A BBC News article reported that only 6% of people in the UK now work the traditional 9am to 5pm hours, with that figure coming from a YouGov survey.
The influence of flexible working is almost certain to continue into the 2019, as it is an important element of employee engagement. It is also a contentious issue regarding discrimination, with older workers and women potentially being unable to take roles that do not offer flexible working.
In the upcoming days we’ll be revealing our top five priorities for 2019, so be sure to check back soon.