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Earlier this week the Prime Minister announced a comprehensive package of measures to transform mental health support, focussing on schools, workplaces and communities. Whilst the details has not been provided, she proposes a new partnership with employers to improve mental health support at work.

Starting with a review on how best to ensure employees with mental health problems are enabled to thrive in the workplace, practical help to employers is also to be offered to assist with employee well-being and metal health.

This announcement may herald a year of protectionist policies for the benefit of employees and help to employers to implement those policies. So what else might 2017 have in store?

Following the 2016 judgment on Uber drivers, the issue of the employment status of workers in the so-called gig economy i.e. those who take on one task, or gig, at a time for a business is likely to be a hot topic in 2017. If protectionism is to be the watch word of the year, then we might expect more judgments bringing workers under the protection of the employment umberella. The first Court of Appeal case of the year on this subject takes place this month.

Many employers and employees would welcome clarification on the law on holiday pay and what constitutes a week’s pay for the calculation of holiday pay. Workers should not have been underpaid, but employers do not want the continued risk of huge retrospective payments. If the protectionist trend is to be followed then expect more decisions including overtime, bonus payments and the like in the calculation.

The review of tribunal fees has now been concluded and publication of the report is awaited. The fees are thought to have resulted in a huge drop in tribunal claims. If the fees are reduced or even abolished, might employers expect a resurgence of claims to pre-2013 levels? The Supreme Court is due to hear a legal challenge to the fees in March, so watch this space.

On the equality front, despite the fees issue, equal pay claims look set to continue. The first set of gender pay gap reports is not due until April 2018 but employers covered by the legislation will need to gather the first set of data this April. Further afield, the European Court of Justice is expected to issue a judgment on the wearing of a Muslim headscarf in the workplace.

…and then there’s Brexit to contend with as well. We wish all of our employer clients a happy and interesting year.

If you need employment advice speak to Ramsdens Employment team, we're here to help you and your business.